FP: Morton Klein, welcome to FrontPage Interview.
Klein: It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you and Frontpage, one of the most important and influential sites in America.
FP: So what stance has the ZOA had on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Klein: From the day the Oslo Accords were signed on September 13, 1993, the ZOA said that Israel should make no concessions of land until the new Palestinian Authority under career terrorist Yasser Arafat shows clearly that he has changed by fulfilling his Oslo obligations to fight and prevent terrorism against Israel, to arrest terrorists, put Israel on the Palestinian Authority (PA) maps and most importantly to stop promoting hatred and murder of Jewish Israelis in PA textbooks, TV, radios, newspapers, official speeches and sermons and the 90 PA-run children’s camps, and stop glorifying and honoring terrorists and suicide bombers by naming streets, schools and sports teams after them while plastering hero-like posters of them throughout schools, universities and towns.
ZOA also demanded that Arafat and his associates should begin making speeches promoting peace with Israel and acceptance of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. Not only did virtually none of this happen, but surprisingly leaders in the Israeli government, the U.S. government and major Jewish organizations attacked ZOA and me personally as warmongers, anti-peace, and attack dogs of the thought police. Incidentally, I would never refer to this situation as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It should be more accurately referred to as the Arab war against Israel. Israel has been willing to make peace from day one; the Palestinian Arabs never have.
We believe to this day that the Palestinians Arabs should receive no concessions until they’ve fulfilled all of their commitments under Oslo, Oslo II, the Hebron Agreement, the Wye Agreement, the Roadmap and so on. Neither Arafat nor Abbas, nor Hamas have fulfilled anything. As Winston Churchill once said, “Those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last.” Professor Donald Kagan, distinguished professor of classics and history at Yale, wrote a book whose theme was that, throughout history, appeasement has always failed. The Arabs must learn that if they don’t change their actions, their agenda will go backwards, not forward.
FP: What have been some achievements of the ZOA?
Klein: The ZOA is the first and only major Jewish organization to expose Palestinian Arab non-compliance as an issue through our writings, lectures, position papers, TV and radio appearances, and lobbying. We initiated the Specter-Shelby-Lowey Bill which highlighted and put more pressure on the issue of Palestinian compliance. ZOA was a major player in getting the Jerusalem Embassy Bill passed. We have also been successful in helping to remove those who are hostile or unsympathetic to Israel’s plight from important posts. Most notably, Dr. John Roth who was named Director of Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Museum; Joe Zogby, who was a top aide to Martin Indyk in the State Department; Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who had been named to the U.S. congressional commission on terrorism. Many people have also credited ZOA’s campaign with preventing Strobe Talbot, a harsh and relentless critic of Israel, from becoming US Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration.
The ZOA was the only group that highlighted the fact that rewards were not being offered by the U.S. Government to capture Palestinian Arab killers of at least 30 Americans, while rewards were being offered for capturing non-Palestinian Arab killers of Americans. After a 3-year ZOA campaign, the State Department announced that rewards would be offered. We also initiated and passed the Koby Mandell Act, which established an office in the Justice Department to pursue Palestinian Arab killers of Americans.
The ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice recently filed a complaint under Title VI that Jewish college students were being harassed and intimidated by outrageous anti-Israel propagandists. After we testified with others before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, a report was issued that promoted new rules to protect Jewish students, including a statement that anti-Zionism is frequently a camouflage for anti-Semitism.
FP: What is the ZOA’s position on the recent Lebanon war? What, for instance, do you make of UN Resolution 1701?
Klein: We, at ZOA, were disappointed that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not conduct the war to achieve his own stated objectives of retrieving the three kidnapped soldiers and disarming the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group. We were also disappointed with the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which was supposed to deal with Hezbollah’s illegal invasion of Israel. This resolution rewarded Hezbollah terrorism, both by putting back on the table the Shabaa Farms territory dispute after the UN had earlier stated that this was not Lebanese territory, and by raising the issue of Lebanese prisoners in Israel, calling for its resolution while ignoring the issue of the three Israeli kidnapped soldiers in the operative portion of the resolution.
This resolution provided no timetable or program for disarming Hezbollah and even fails to call for a ban on giving arms to Hezbollah. It calls on Israel to provide maps of its landmines in Lebanon, but makes no such demand of Hezbollah. It also ignores the fact that Lebanese leaders and many of its people have expressed full support for Hezbollah’s actions. Remarkably, while calling for financial and humanitarian assistance for Lebanon, it does not do so for Israel. This resolution is a victory for Hezbollah and strengthens the belief of jihad supporters that their side is winning.
FP: What do you make of Mahmoud Abbas?
Klein: One of the extraordinary blind spots of contemporary Middle East history is the obsession of calling Mahmoud Abbas, whose nom de guerre or war name is Abu Mazen, a peace-loving moderate. If it were only true. However, the facts are that Mahmoud Abbas was not only Yasser Arafat’s deputy for 40 years, he also co-founded with him the terrorist group Fatah, masterminded the Munich massacre and wrote a PhD thesis and book denying the Holocaust. He has completely failed as PA president to honor the Oslo Accords and other signed agreements, including the 2003 Roadmap peace plan by fighting arresting, extraditing and jailing terrorists and confiscating their weaponry and ending the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds it. When the PA opened its own Rafah border crossing in Gaza last year, he named it after the terrorist killer Al-Moayed Bihokmillah Al-Aqha, who was killed in December 2004 carrying out a terrorist attack that killed five Israelis.
Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly spoken of the importance of “implementing the principles of Yasser Arafat” (Haaretz, January 3, 2005). He has praised the Lebanese Islamist terrorist group, Hizballah, for its hostilities with Israel, saying that it is a source of pride and sets an example for what he termed the “Arab resistance” (Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2006). He calls Israel the “Zionist enemy” (CNN.com, January 7, 2005). He condemned Israel’s killing of four Palestinian terrorists in a military operation as a “barbarous slaughter” (Voice of Palestine, May 30, 2006). He sometimes criticizes Palestinian terrorism only on tactical grounds, because “It harms the Palestinian interests” (New York Times, October 26, 2005).
Although it is an explicit Palestinian commitment under the Oslo agreements and the Roadmap peace plan, he calls dismantling terrorist groups a “red line” that must not be crossed (Washington Times, January 3, 2005). But then what would you expect from someone who has said of Palestinian terrorists that “Israel calls them terrorists, we call them strugglers” (Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2004) that “Allah loves the martyr” (Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2005) and that wanted Palestinian terrorists are “heroes fighting for freedom” (The Age [Melbourne], January 3, 2005). When President Bush asked Abbas to announce that he supports Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, he refused. Lastly, it should also not be forgotten that Mahmoud Abbas heads the Fatah Party, a movement whose Charter to this day calls for terrorism against Israel and its destruction. Mahmoud Abbas has never even amended the Charter of his own party, let alone provided moderate or courageous leadership for the Palestinian Arabs. Someone with so blatant a record of extremism should not be thought of as a moderate or peace maker but only as Yasser Arafat in a suit.
FP: Morton Klein, thank you for joining us.
Klein: Thank you.
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