Discussion of the Israeli lobby and its influence in Washington tends to center on AIPAC, the largest Israel-centered lobbying group currently operating in the US. The oldest continually operating such lobby group, however, the Zionist Organization of America, was for decades one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country, helping to shape American policy toward the formation of Israel. Its members have been connected to illegal Israeli smuggling rings of both conventional and nuclear weapons technologies. And it is currently embroiled with the American government in a fight over its tax-exempt status. Find out more in this week's edition of the BoilingFrogsPost.com Eyeopener report. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), founded in 1897, was one of the first official Zionist organizations in the United States, and, especially early in the 20th century, the primary representative of Jewish Americans to the World Zionist Organization, espousing primarily Political Zionism. Today, the ZOA continues to exist as a prominent pro-Israel group in the United States, with 30,000 current members. The ZOA was initially founded in 1896 as the Federation of American Zionists (FAZ), an amalgam of Hebrew societies, Chovevei Zionists and Jewish nationalist clubs that all endorsed the Basle programme. The FAZ was established at a Baltimore conference where the constitution was adopted by the delegates with Richard Gottheil elected as president and Stephen S Wise as honorary secretary. The ZOA was founded to support the founding of the 'Jewish National Home in Palestine'. Along with its sister organization Janadava, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, and the Labor Zionist Po'ale Zion parties, and the Religious Zionist Mizrachi, the ZOA served as one of the key voices in early American Zionism. Their voice was limited however, since most American Jews and the organized American Jewish Committee were initially strong opponents of the Zionist movement, and worried, with their assimilationist views, about charges of 'dual loyalty', a common antisemitic canard. The demographics of Jewish Americans were changing rapidly around the turn of the 20th century and by 1920 and the Jewish population of America had increased by over ten times. When the secular "people's lawyer" Louis Brandeis became involved in the movement in 1912, just before the First World War, Zionism started gaining significant support. By 1917, Brandeis' leadership had increased American Zionist membership ten times to 200,000 members, and "thenceforth became the financial center for the world Zionist movement," greatly surpassing its previous European base of support. In addition early in the war years, he and others established the American Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs, to run Zionist affairs on behalf of the worldwide Zionist Organization, which had been rendered largely impotent because its members were divided by allegiance to the different sides in the conflict. The Zionist Organization of America was instrumental in mobilizing the support of the U.S. government, Congress, and the American public for the creation of Israel in 1948. Former ZOA presidents of the period included Louis D. Brandeis, Louis Lipsky, Daniel Frisch, Rabbi Wise, and Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver. In 1949 the Federal bureau of investigation (FBI) investigated the ZOA under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act after the organization solicited supporters to accelerate technology transfers to Jews in Palestine. On February 25, 1948 the ZOA was ordered to register as a foreign agent. After a series of conferences with the US Attorney General, the ZOA changed its constitution and "affected a change in the constitution of the World Zionist Organization in an effort to remove itself from agency status. As a result all attempts to procure the registration of the subject organization were dropped." Following the founding of Israel, and to unify Jewish representation with the executive branch of US government, the ZOA became a charter member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
JAMES CORBET: The Zionist Organization of America - Foreign Agents [The Eyeopener Report]
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