The JTA article you published online (“These Jewish Groups are Fighting…Behind the Scene” May 16, 2018) about ZOA criticizing some Jewish groups for their troubling policies and positions had many inaccuracies. (1) In fact, ZOA legitimately criticized National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) for signing a letter demanding that people stop “smearing” Linda Sarsour. It was not a “smear” for ZOA to expose Israel-basher Linda Sarsour’s support for anti-Israel boycotts, and to expose Sarsour’s praise of Arab terrorists convicted of murdering Jews, and Sarsour’s litany of extreme, hateful statements. ZOA did not criticize NCJW for NCJW’s concern about alleged threats to Linda Sarsour (even though the alleged threats seemed to be limited to a non-specific Facebook statement which the author subsequently apologized for). (2) ZOA likewise legitimately criticized ADL for praising the extremist group J street, and for disseminating pro-BlackLivesMatter materials to schools around the country, and for other specific troubling policies. Interestingly, ADL made some changes in its educational materials following ZOA’s criticism of them – thereby demonstrating the appropriateness of ZOA’s criticisms. (3) ZOA legitimately criticized HIAS for bringing to America unvettable Syrian Muslims, who may well have hostile views toward Israel and Jews. It was similarly a legitimate concern that ADL and HIAS signed joint letters together with anti-Israel groups, including unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas funding trial CAIR and MPAC – which seeks to end Israel’s existence. (4) In the article, an ADL spokesman claimed ADL “investigated” ZOA lawyer Liz Berney’s report that ADL Director Jonathan Greenblatt physically assaulted her – and ADL wrongly called Berney’s report “baseless.” Notably, ADL never talked to the victim Liz Berney, or to others whom we know of who are familiar with the incident. In contrast to what appears to be a sham ADL investigation, the JTA article’s authors spoke with six individuals who confirmed Ms. Berney’s contemporaneous accounts of the incident to them. It is not possible to undertake a legitimate and proper investigation without speaking to the victim and other knowledgeable parties. ADL thus appears to be sweeping this serious incident under the rug, while maligning the victim.
ZOA remains concerned about all of our justified criticisms, and earnestly hopes that ADL, HIAS and NCJW will alter their policies and actions.
Morton A. Klein, President, Zionist Organization of America