The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a right-wing Jewish organization, expressed reservations on Wednesday regarding the potential nomination of Jack Lew as the US Ambassador to Israel, highlighting several concerns.
Lew, a former US treasury secretary is the leading candidate to be the new US ambassador to Israel and could be nominated in the coming weeks, the Axios media organization reported on Sunday, citing three people familiar with the matter.
Axios said there was a sense of urgency about US President Joe Biden's choice for the post because the White House was pushing for a diplomatic mega-deal with Saudi Arabia that could include a normalization agreement between the Saudis and Israel.
Lew, 67, is one of the few Orthodox Jews to have served in the US cabinet. He speaks Hebrew, has relatives in Israel, and is an active member of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in the Bronx, in New York City.
1. Lew's track record on policies:
During his tenure as Chief of Staff, Lew drew criticism from the ZOA, which labeled the administration as “the most hostile-to-Israel US president ever.” They emphasized his support for the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, asserting it “labeled Judaism’s holiest places... as 'occupied Arab land'.”
2. Contention over UNSC resolution 2334:
While many viewed this resolution as echoing US policies, the ZOA interpreted it differently. Their stance was bolstered by the Congressional condemnation through H. Res. 11. They believed Lew, given his influential position, ought to have been more vocal in his opposition.
3. Financial decisions:
Questions were raised by the ZOA about Lew's involvement in financial decisions during his term as Treasury Secretary. They specifically pointed to the action of "sending planeloads with $1.7 billion of cash to Iran.”
4. Leveraging religious identity:
The potential use of Lew's Orthodox Jewish identity became a concern for the ZOA. They hinted it might be used as a "cover to shield the administration from charges of antisemitism," especially if contrary Israeli-interest policies were advanced.
5. Reflection on past ambassadorial actions:
The ZOA had also voiced concerns about the actions of the previous US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides. They believed his term included decisions that were not in favor of strengthening the US-Israel bond.
In their concluding remarks, the ZOA had stressed that a decision to nominate Lew “might further strain the US-Israel relationship.” As a result, they expressed their opposition to his potential appointment.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), stands as a nonprofit organization in the US that advocates for Israel. Established in 1897 under the name Federation of American Zionists, it held the distinction of being the inaugural Zionist entity in the US In the early 1900s, it represented American Jews in the World Zionist Organization, mainly championing Political Zionism.
Reuters and LAHAV HARKOV contributed to this report.