WASHINGTON (JTA) — A pro-Israel group called on a leading Jewish congressman to rescind comments blaming both Israel and the Palestinians for the "downward spiral" in the Middle East.
The Zionist Organization of America called the remarks of U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee, at a Feb. 12 hearing inaccurate, hurtful and counterproductive.
Ackerman said "the downward pressure" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "comes from terrorism and the march of settlements and outposts, from the firing of rockets and the perpetration of settler pogroms," while adding that he was not trying to draw a moral equivalence between Israeli hard-liners and Palestinian terrorists, "but they are all part of the same destructive dynamic."
Ackerman "makes a false moral equivalence between Jews in Judea and Samaria and Palestinian terrorists, and then goes on to blame both for the lack of peace," said Michael Goldblatt, the ZOA’s board chairman. "It is illogical to say one does not mean to engage in moral equivalence between Jews in Judea and Samaria and Palestinian terrorists, and then go on to blame both for the lack of peace.
"Moreover, to label the rare occurrence of non-lethal violence committed by individual Israelis against Arabs to a pogrom, which occurred only after Arab provocation, is simply inaccurate," he added. "The definition of a pogrom is a government-sanctioned and sponsored campaign of murder and rape against people, usually Jews. Nothing even resembling this happened here to Arabs."
"We urge Rep. Ackerman to rescind his unfortunate and deeply hurtful and counterproductive remarks."