Jewish organization’s internal squabble: ZOA files complaint against 14 member groups for calling leader’s remarks ‘racist’


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Zionist Organization of America didn’t like its leader being accused of making racist comments by other members of a Jewish umbrella group — and it’s lodged an official complaint.

The 114-page complaint, filed June 23 with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and obtained this week by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, names individuals leading 14 organizations of the foreign policy group as “defendants,” an unusual term considering that the proceeding is internal and not a matter for the courts.

They include several affiliated with the Reform and Conservative movements and several that advocate for the two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as HIAS, the immigration advocacy group that in May filed a complaint against the ZOA in the Conference of Presidents.

Much of the ZOA complaint focuses on claims by the named individuals that public pronouncements by its president, Morton Klein, made during the recent social unrest have at times crossed into racism.

Klein has said on Twitter that Black Lives Matter “is an antisemitic, Israel hating Soros funded racist extremist Israelophobic hate group” and “BLM is a Jew hating, White hating, Israel hating, conservative Black hating, violence promoting, dangerous Soros funded extremist group of haters.”

Calling these statements and others “racist” is false and disparaging, the ZOA complaint says.

The charges are based on a Conference of Presidents policy that constituent groups should not disparage one another. The HIAS complaint against the ZOA citing Klein’s claims that HIAS is not Jewish and has associated with terrorist-affiliated groups.

In 2019, the Conference of Presidents reprimanded the ZOA for similar attacks on HIAS and other constituents of the umbrella group.

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