On Wednesday evening, September 4, community members gathered at the home of Michael and Gila Rollhaus in Kew Gardens Hills for a Zionist Organization of America meeting focused on fighting anti-Semitism in Congress.
Deborah Peretz, Regional Director of ZOA, welcomed everyone. Then, Mr. Dan Pollak, Director of Government Relations, spoke. “We have a real problem in Congress.” He noted that people who say they only hate Israel also hate Jews. He commended Israel for stopping a potentially damaging trip to Israel by the two anti-Semitic members of Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who would have used this trip to further their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel agenda. They were planning visits to areas that would stir up controversy and propaganda. He said that Tlaib and Omar are crafty activists. Tlaib particularly thinks about everything she does. Omar is in Minnesota, which has a large Jewish population. Sadly, 80 percent supported her. She actually lied before the election, claiming she was against BDS. He spoke about an organization founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi, a former PLO official, called Miftah. Miftah promotes all the old anti-Semitic rhetoric, starting with the Elders of Zion. In 2013, they had an article on their website about President Obama’s Passover Seder. It stated that people didn’t realize that the real Seder involves the blood of Christian people. This was on their website for three weeks until they took it down and wrote an apology in English, but they never placed an apology in their Arabic version. This organization defended terrorists and supported BDS. It is funded by European governments including Ireland. Canada recently stopped funding it. They say Jews poison Arab wells.
Mr. Pollak noted that, in August, 72 members of Congress, including 42 Democrats, took a trip to Israel. This was a positive. He then spoke about Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland who is behind a resolution decrying hatred of all kinds including anti-Muslim hate. Yet he failed to mention the hatred spewed by Omar and Tlaib.
He shared that today it is hard to push through bills in Congress that used to go through easily in favor of Israel. He mentioned the pay for slay policy of the Palestinian Authority, which pays terrorists’ families more money based on the amount of Jews they kill.
The Taylor Force Act, named after an American citizen killed by terrorists in Israel, is a bill that President Trump signed, which would cut some aid to Palestinians until they end stipends for terror convicts and families of slain attackers.
He noted that if children threw rocks at cars in Maryland and caused injury or death, they would be convicted of a crime and incarcerated. So why is there a bill protecting human rights for Palestinian children. Israel is child-centered and bends over backwards to protect the rights of all children.
BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) did not pass the Senate and only Republicans signed to discharge it along with a few Democratic congressmen. This is a bill boycotting Israeli products and focused on harming Israel’s economy. It is an act of pure anti-Semitism.
He noted that it is a shame that Lee Zeldin’s resolution was not passed. His resolution stated that the entire House of Representatives, all Republicans and all Democrats, must reject the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred infiltrating American politics, college campuses, and the halls of Congress. This evil shouldn’t be elevated, empowered, echoed, or otherwise embraced. It should be condemned outright! House Democratic leadership should allow an immediate vote on House Resolution 72.
Mr. Pollak then spoke about how we can fight anti-Semitism in Congress. “All of us have the ability to be proactive and get involved in our own political scene.” He showed pictures of the size of Israel, which is actually the size of the state of New Jersey. It’s a small country. This is why problems on the borders are so concerning. He mentioned recent Hezbollah missile-firings on northern borders with missiles that have a GPS. We have to think about the Israel Defense Forces and what they are fighting. He emphasized, “ZOA opposes any bill that endorses establishing a Palestinian state. The words ‘two-state solution’ mean establishing a Palestinian terror state. We won’t accept anything like this.”
Next, Liz Berney, ZOA Director of Special Projects, asked everyone to participate in the ZOA election, which takes place from January 21 to March 11. They elect 145 delegates and they want to shift the vote in Congress from the left.
She spoke about how American campuses are the source of anti-Semitism getting into Congress. Ignorance is tremendous. A student stated that Israel stole the country. We need kids in the campus division of ZOA to step up. “A little knowledge goes a long way.”
“All of us have to get involved.” Write letters to the editor. Call it out when you see things are not balanced, like NPR having two anti-Israel people debating. She urged everyone to sign up for action alerts on the ZOA’s website. Support the Lee Zeldin Resolution.
The Zionist Organization of America is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA is dedicated to educating the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing and relentless Arab/Islamic war against Israel. The ZOA is also committed to promoting strong US-Israel relations. The ZOA works to protect Jewish college and high school students from intimidation, harassment, and discrimination, and in fighting anti-Semitism in general.
Since its founding in 1897, the Zionist Organization of America has been fighting for the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Under the leadership of such illustrious presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, and current National President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been on the frontlines of Jewish activism.
With a national membership of over 25,000, and chapters throughout the United States (including Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, North Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, South Jersey, and Washington, DC), the ZOA today works to strengthen US-Israeli relations through educational activities, public affairs programs, working every day on Capitol Hill, and by combating anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, and on campuses.
By Susie Garber