Jewish and Pro-Israel Organizations Must Not Tolerate the Bigotry of ZOA’s Morton Klein

June 11, 2020

The following joint statement was issued by J Street, the New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism, The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and T’ruah:

As progressive pro-Israel organizations and members of the American Jewish community, we are appalled and outraged by the bigotry and hatred expressed and promoted by Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), at this painful and important moment of reckoning for our country. Klein’s latest outbursts and long track record of bigotry should make him unwelcome in any mainstream Jewish communal spaces and should lead to his expulsion from organizational umbrella groups such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

In recent days, Klein has described Black Lives Matter as “a Jew hating, White hating, Israel hating, conservative Black hating, violence promoting, dangerous Soros funded extremist group of haters.” He has said that Black Lives Matter leaders and supporters are “filled with hatred against Jewish people.” He has urged that Black Lives Matter be designated as a hate group, retweeted calls for it to be designated a “terrorist organization,” and amplified demonstrably false, antisemitic conspiracy theories suggesting George Soros orchestrated recent protests.

This is far from the first time that Klein has launched vicious attacks against minorities, people of color, Palestinians or his fellow Jews — and we know it will not be the last. In recent years, he has attacked the Jewish refugee group HIAS for “resettling Muslim Jewhaters in America,” amplified an accusation that George Soros “helped the Nazi extermination system by identifying Jews” and slandered President Obama and two Muslim congresswomen as supporters of terrorism. There is nothing he will not say to malign anyone who dares to criticize Israeli government policy or support Palestinian rights. There is apparently no limit to the extent that he will go to dehumanize and otherize Muslims, Palestinians and people of color.

Our community, of course, can and must be open and receptive to a wide variety of views, with plenty of space for strong debate and disagreement. Yet the fundamental dignity of people of color and the legitimacy of their struggle for equal rights cannot be called into question. The continued presence of Klein and the ZOA in important umbrella groups is an affront to Jews of color and all people of color, and to the overwhelming majority of all American Jews. It undermines any pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy and damages the collective reputation of our community.

Together, we must meet this important moment and rededicate ourselves to the fight for racial justice. Our history and our values compel us to join the fight against systemic racism, to confront racism within our own communities, to stand in active solidarity with Jews of color and all people of color and to reject any notion that this is not our fight or that silence is an acceptable response.

If we are serious about confronting systemic racism in our nation and our community, and if we are serious about playing a constructive role in securing a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, we can start with a full-throated repudiation of Morton Klein and the ZOA.
See below for a partial list of Klein’s outrageous and bigoted statements:

Recent Statements