NEW YORK, May 19 — The Zionist Organization of America (“ZOA”) respectfully expresses disappointment and shock that during Governor Chris Christie’s speech at Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Jewish Values dinner at Cipriani’s in Manhattan last night (Sunday March 18, 2014), Governor Christie never even mentioned Israel.
The Jewish Values dinner would have been an ideal opportunity for Governor Christie to say something – anything – positive about Israel, and to make public amends for his past remarks inaccurately referring to Judea and Samaria as “occupied territories.”
Governor Christie’s silence about Israel was especially shocking because the Jewish Values Dinner was attended by pro-Israel luminaries including philanthropists Dr. Miriam Adelson, M.D., Sheldon Adelson and Michael Steinhardt, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ron Prosor, leading values advocate Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Elie Weisel, over one-hundred young people who had recently returned from Birthright Israel trips to Israel, and a strongly pro-Israel crowd. Governor Christie’s silence is especially insulting to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who invited Governor Christie to speak at the Jewish Values Dinner.
ZOA National President Mort Klein stated:
“Even a few small words of praise for Israel would have been welcome. For instance, because this was a Jewish values dinner, Governor Christie could have mentioned that Israel exemplifies Jewish values, because, among other reasons, Israel promotes women’s equal rights; provides full rights to its Arab citizens (Israeli Arabs vote, hold Knesset seats, serve as judges, ambassadors, and doctors in Israeli hospitals, and even have affirmative action preferences for attending Israeli Universities); abides by the rule of law; protects freedom of worship and holy places for all religions; and provides medical, agricultural and humanitarian relief throughout the world (such as Israel’s acclaimed, prompt, extensive medical assistance to earthquake-stricken Haiti). When Governor Christie stated during his speech that “we must always support our allies,” Christie failed to mention that Israel was one of America’s allies – although this was an opportune time to say so. Governor Christie could have of course condemned Secretary of State Kerry’s outrageous recent apartheid comment. Christie would have received a standing ovation if he had done so.”
Similar to his Jewish Values dinner speech yesterday, Governor Christie has habitually remained silent regarding Israel during his other public addresses to Jewish audiences. For instance, during Governor Christie’s prepared speech in Las Vegas in March, the Governor never mentioned Israel. This was also so during previous Republican Jewish Coalition addresses given by the Governor.
Christie’s disappointing silence during his public speeches is particularly concerning due to Governor Christie’s other activities. Shockingly, Christie kissed, embraced, and praised radical New Jersey Iman Mohammed Qatanani – a man who openly calls for U.S. funding of Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist group. (Hamas’s charter calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel). Qatanani has also proclaimed “On the 15th of May, 1948 was the greatest disaster which occurred on the face of the earth…the State of Israel was established on the land of Palestine.” Christie also designated a top aide, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna, to testify as a character witness for Qatanani.
Furthermore, in his Las Vegas speech in March, Governor Christie mischaracterized the controversy over his appointing Sohail Mohammed as a judge to the New Jersey Superior Court as “anti-Muslim bigotry.” Christie then went on to profusely praise Mohammed Sohail as a “good and great man.” (The concerns regarding Mohammed Sohail are not “anti-Muslim bigotry.” The reasons for concern regarding Sohail include that Sohail was general counsel for the American Muslim Union (which blamed Israeli commandos for the 9-11 terrorist attack) and that Mohammed Sohail defended Palestinian Islamist Jihadist Operative Sami Al Arian; Sohail said that Al Arian’s indictment was “nothing but a witch hunt.” As terrorism experts Dr. Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson wrote about the man whom Governor Christie appointed to the bench, “Mohammed [Sohail] is not only a lawyer for Islamists but is one of them.”
Governor Christie also turned a blind eye to the deeply troubling record of the people who were trying to build the Ground Zero Mosque, deriding anyone concerned about their radical statements and questionable motives as “crazies.”
Governor Christie also condemned the New York City Police Department’s surveillance of Muslim communities as possibly “born out of arrogance, or out of paranoia, or out of both” – even though the surveillance of Muslim communities was responsible for thwarting multiple attempted terror attacks on New York and New Jersey citizens.
Governor Christie’s record led Middle East expert Daniel Pipes and and terrorism expert Steven Emerson to write: “Time and again Christie has sided with Islamist forces against those safeguarding American security and civilization.”
Unfortunately, Governor Christie’s speech at the Jewish Values Dinner yesterday did nothing to change this assessment of him.