Thursday, January 27, 2005

Another embarassment for the ZOA:

The Forward found itself in the middle of this debate last week, after we published an advertisement that criticized Israeli government policy in terms that some considered beyond the pale of civility. The ad, purchased and signed by the local president of the Washington, D.C., district of the Zionist Organization of America, took on Israel's Gaza disengagement plan, which it likened to a long string of anti-Jewish persecutions from the Inquisition to the Nazi slaughter. The plan's architects were called "betrayers of Israel." Since its appearance, we've heard from more than a few community leaders who thought we were mistaken to accept the ad, arguing, as Abe Foxman writes on this page, that it was tantamount to "hate speech."

Even the ZOA's own national leadership jumped into the fray. ZOA President Morton Klein, a child of Holocaust survivors who scrupulously avoids misuse of Nazi imagery, strongly disavowed the ad and told us he had accepted the resignation of his Washington chapter president. Klein wondered why we hadn't checked with his organization before running an ad in its name.

Yes, of course, each time we publish an ad on behalf of an organization we'll be sure to check in with the organization's president first. C'mon, Mort, surely you're not that stupid, are you?

They should just shut down their DC office, this is the third time in two and a half years that there's been a significant conflict between employees in that office and the organization's president in New York. It's not like they're that effective, anyway. To compare the Israeli government to Nazis? Yes, they did that in Gaza a few weeks ago. But that was shortlived and inappopriate. It remains inappropriate now and the ZOA should know better and have a better handle on its staff. Shame on them.


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