ZOA National President Morton A. Klein responded to a White House official's explanation that the move "would complicate our ability to help Israelis and Palestinians advance toward peace and the president's two-state vision."
The refusal to move the embassy to Israel's capital "actually harms the cause of peace," Klein wrote, "by sending a message to Palestinian Arab terrorists and other Islamist terrorists that their use and threat of terrorism pays and even intimidates the United States into submission to their demands. This only encourages more terrorism, because they see it works. This policy is detrimental to our international war against Islamist terrorists."
In 1995, Congress overwhelmingly voted to mandate the embassy's move. However, it included a clause allowing the President to push off the move by six months. President Bill Clinton invoked the clause several times, and Bush has done so every six months as well.
Bush wrote in a statement Monday that his "administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem."
American-Jewish Leaders Quiet
That same evening, leaders of various American Jewish organizations - including the Orthodox Union (OU), AIPAC, Agudath Israel, JCPA, Hillel and others - participated in a menorah lighting and Chanukah party with President Bush at the White House. An OU press release noted with pride that, "For the second year, at the behest of the First Lady Laura Bush, the entire party menu was comprised of kosher food to the highest standards of kashrus."
The ZOA, on the other hand, wrote that it is "deeply disappointed that American Jewish organizations have been frozen into silence about [the refusal to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem]. We also urge pro-Israel Christian groups like Reverend John Hagee's Christians United for Israel to speak out. Such failure may send another harmful message, that American Jewry does not care sufficiently about Jerusalem as Judaism's holiest place."
Reports of the White House Chanukah party did not mention what issues of concern to Israel, if any, were raised. Mattot Arim, a grassroots pro-Land of Israel organization based in Rehovot, has written to the OU, for instance, about the "banishment of 21 Orthodox Jews [from their homes in Judea and Samaria] by the Olmert administration... We still remain in the dark as to whether or not your organization will be taking steps to intercede with the Prime Minister on behalf of these Orthodox families... Our suggestion to the OU, which remains unanswered, was that a conference call might be set up between Prime Minister Olmert and the OU leadership to determine how this annoying and entirely superfluous problem can best and most expeditiously be solved."