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Boston Jewish council votes to keep ZOA despite it ‘elevating white supremacism’

The right-wing Zionist Organization of America, lead by Morton Klein, will remain in Massachusetts-based JCRC despite allegations of racism

Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, at the American Zionist Movement Washington Forum, December 12, 2018. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images via JTA)
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, at the American Zionist Movement Washington Forum, December 12, 2018. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images via JTA)

JTA — The community council representing nearly all Jewish groups in Boston has decided not to expel a member organization whose leader was found in an internal review to have “elevated white supremacist voices.”

The Zionist Organization of America, a right-wing group that focuses on Israel advocacy, will remain a part of the 40-member Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston following a seven-month review that culminated in a vote on Tuesday night.

At issue were comments that the ZOA’s national leader, the prominent conservative activist Morton Klein, made on social media. Klein’s critics, who petitioned in September to have his group removed from the Boston council, accuse him of racism. Klein maintains that his online behavior has been appropriate and rejects the allegation that he promoted white supremacy.

The vote, by council member groups and other community members, was 40 in favor of expelling ZOA, 48 against, and 10 abstentions. A two-thirds majority would have been required for removal.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton A. Klein (Joseph Savetsky/courtesy of ZOA)

By a separate vote of 66 in favor, 10 against, and 10 abstentions, the Boston JCRC passed a resolution against comments that “legitimize or normalize” white supremacy. The resolution spells out that such comments could result in expulsion.

In a statement released following the vote, the Boston JCRC said that it is a “big tent” organization that seeks to represent a variety of viewpoints — but within certain bounds.

“We believe that it is possible for robust support for the US-Israel alliance, including vigorous advocacy, to thrive without embracing white supremacy and bigotry,” the statement reads. “Plainly said, we reaffirm that there will be no place for white supremacy, white nationalism, or related conspiracy theorists in our organization.”

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