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  • 13 Mar 2023 3:42 PM | Anonymous

    As Democrats, we are greatly alarmed by the potential harms to Israeli society by Israel’s new governing coalition, the most right-wing in its history.

    The values of the California Democratic Party (CDP) are clear. The CDP’s 2022 Platform states its support for Israel’s future as a secure democratic Jewish state and provides Israelis and Palestinians the right to live with independence, sovereignty, and dignity within their own viable states free from persecution, terror, or incitement.

    Consistent with our values and those of the Democratic Party, we continue to support the right of Israel to live securely as a Jewish and democratic state, as it has since 1948.

    As we have seen in the rise of other right-wing nationalist governments in Hungary, Poland, Turkey and Italy, the recent elections in Israel have veered the country sharply to the right and away from the democratic principles espoused by its founders — principles that have placed the Jewish state among other western democratic nations.

    When Donald Trump was elected President, millions of Americans mobilized to oppose his policies, but they did not advocate for the end of the United States. They mobilized because they loved their country. As American Jews, we are not citizens of Israel, but we recognize that Jewish identity remains intertwined with Israel’s existence.

    Criticism of harmful Israeli policy that bears on its democratic character is appropriate as long as it does not embrace antisemitism or seek to delegitimize Israel’s existence. The way to support Israel and its democratic values is to stand with the more than 200,000 Israelis regularly coming out to protest the current government's attempts to undermine its democratic principles. Indeed, as Democrats and as Zionists, we express great alarm at the current government’s proposed policies and stand in solidarity with Israelis of all religions and orientations who seek to protect a democratic Israel.

    We stand in solidarity with a democratic Israel because the current far-right government is advancing a proposal to eliminate independent judicial oversight, which would enable members of the government to refuse to comply with the law whenever they choose. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is standing trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust while leading a campaign to destroy the very judicial system responsible for his criminal prosecution, dismantling the separation of powers, eroding the independence of Israel's judges and giving politicians unfettered control.

    To accomplish this requires extremist alliances. Enter Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich and others, who seemingly have no qualms about dismantling Israeli democracy, disregarding the rights of the LGBTQ community, women, secular Israelis, Reform and Conservative Jews, and other minority groups. This extremist coalition government is ignoring the concerns of the millions in Israel who oppose this anti-democratic judicial overhaul, and members of this extremist coalition government have refused to slow the process and sit down and negotiate reforms that would be acceptable to the vast majority of the Israeli public.

    Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be wiped out because a terrorist shot and killed Israelis at a settlement nearby. Shortly thereafter, a mob of settlers attacked and torched the town. Further, another member of the coalition government objected to the arrest of Israeli settlers who are connected with the attack. Ben-Gvir has been convicted of incitement to terrorism on multiple occasions. He is a follower of the late rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of Kahanism: a violent, extremist ideology that advocates for and has inspired acts of terror. He and his disciples were rightly banned from Israel's legislature in 1988 on the grounds that their ideology is “racist and undemocratic.” As recently as November 2022, Ben-Gvir attended a commemoration ceremony for Meir Kahane.

    We stand in solidarity with a democratic Israel because Israel’s ruling coalition seems bent on imposing radical change to Israel’s political system. We Democrats in the United States have witnessed how a rightward shift of the Supreme Court has impacted the rights of immigrants, expanded Title 42, and reversed Roe v. Wade. A majority of our U.S. Supreme Court Justices have also signaled a readiness to challenge voting rights, election law, and affirmative action. The erosion of minority protections in our own country is deepening and, as noted by Israeli legal experts, the proposed dismantling of the checks and balances of an independent Israeli judiciary would have a similar effect. Democracy is not the power of a temporary, thin legislative majority to permanently —without recourse — oppress and remove the rights of its citizens. We cannot stand by quietly as democratic protections are eroded in both Israel and the United States.

    We stand in solidarity because we are concerned for the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people, who desire their own viable, independent state living in peace next to Israel. We are particularly concerned with a guiding principle of the new coalition, which seeks to greenlight unilateral annexation, making a two-state solution virtually impossible and making the establishment of a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians equally impossible. Worse, the goals of this coalition government would normalize a unilateral form of Jewish hegemony from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, creating no options for consenting Palestinians to retain basic human rights of self-determination and taking away the option of their own state. The ruling coalition is in contravention of the national Democratic Party platform, which expressly supports a two-state solution and opposes unilateral actions by either party—whether it be Israelis imposing a single state via annexation or Palestinians attempting to force Israelis into a single-majority Palestinian state through an international campaign of delegitimization and a wildly overbroad interpretation of right of return laws.

    As Democrats, we stand in solidarity with those seeking a democratic Israel by standing in opposition to the extreme proposals of Israel’s current coalition government, which are in stark contrast to our party platform and the values enshrined in Israel’s founding Declaration of Independence. Israelis are raising a clear and broad voice to oppose these proposed policies. These voices cannot be ignored.

    We stand with the will of the Israeli people to find solutions that benefit all Israelis, protect democracy, and work for a sustainable peace.

    ● Democrats for Israel California, a council of Jewish Democratic clubs
    ● Progressive Zionists of California
    ● Democrats for Israel Los Angeles
    ● Jewish Democratic Club of Silicon Valley
    ● Jewish Democratic Club of Solano County

  • 24 Oct 2022 11:40 AM | Anonymous


    Los Angeles, CA October 24, 2022. Democrats for Israel California, the California Democratic Party chartered voice of the Jewish community to the California Democratic Party called out GOP Candidate Lanhee Chen for using antisemitic tropes in a co-written 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing “progressive proselyting” for why Jews and Asians vote Democratic titled “The Mystery of Jewish and Asian-American Democratic Loyalty.”

    The article, co-written with former Bush Deputy HHS Secretary Devi Troy, encourages young voters to vote Republican, stated that because Jews and Asians make more money they should vote Republican and then repeats the falsehood that only the Republican party supports Israel, arguing that for both selfish economic reasons and out of a loyalty to Israel, young Jews and Asian-Americans should vote Republican and would do so but for the “proselyting” of teaches and academics, following a recent trend of anti-intellectualism in the Republican party.

    DFI-CA President Andrew Lachman made the following statement:

    “It is ant-semitic to imply that the American Jewish community is part of some economic elite.  There are large segments of both the Jewish and Asian-American community that experience poverty and they both share a long history of experiencing discrimination that Chen seems to have forgotten such as the educational quotas and immigration restrictions in place well into the 1960s.

    Notwithstanding the fact that Democrats continue to overwhelmingly support the democratic Jewish state of Israel, for Chen to imply that American Jews should forfeit their duty as American citizens to uphold their values because of Israel is very similar to former President Trumps recent claims that the American Jewish should hold a greater loyalty to Israel than their support for the American democracy he and his supporters tried to overthrow on January 6, 2021. Both Asian Americans and Jewish Americans are frequently targets of the dual loyalty trope and for these two to play right into the same arguments shows how the Republican party set the table for the white supremacy of Charlottesville a long time ago. 

    It is because Republicans like Trump and Chen do not share the same values as American Jews that they vote Democratic, as 75% of them did in 2020.  In light of the rise in antisemitism and anti-Asian violence under the most recent Republican administrations, we call on Chen to apologize for this article and the insulting implication that young voters are not capable of critical thought.”

    In the June 15, 2016, Wall Street Journal op-ed, Troy and Chen criticized Jews for supporting Obama, noting that “78% backed Barack Obama in 2008, and 70% did in 2012, and then falsely claiming that this took place “despite a foreign policy that at best could be described as rough on Israel.”   The op-ed also implies that Jews are “disproportionately represented” at elite schools and blames academic influences at these schools for why young Jewish (and Asian) voters despite “socioeconomic factors that might suggest greater support for conservative causes and candidates.”  The only “socio-economic factor mentioned in the op-ed, is the claim that Jewish and Asian-Americans have higher incomes.  The op-ed’s closing paragraphs imply that money (and Israel) should be the only reasons to vote Republican with the ominous warning “…it’s not too soon for Jewish and Asian freshmen to start thinking about where their long-term interests lie.” 


    Source:  (full reprint from Hudson Institute -

  • 6 Mar 2022 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    Democrats for Israel California, the California Democratic Party chartered organization for outreach to the Jewish community issued the following statement in reaction to the California Democratic Party's passages of the Platform.

    California Democrats did an exceptional job of standing up for Israel and the Jewish community standing, against antisemitic boycotts and attacks, as well as supporting Israel's right to exist as a secure, Jewish democratic state and supporting stronger language on Iran than in the 2020 Platform.

    "Democrats for Israel applauds the Calfornia Democratic Party's passage of platform language that reiterates 2020 language supporting a Two State Solution with Israel as a Jewish Democratic State. The Middle East was the most touched-on topic during the public comment process with over 150 Democrats presenting testimony on this topic with 80% of the testimony supporting the 2020 language in some form. In addition, over 500 Californians signed a petition calling for support of the current platform language on Israel without a floor fight With this strong statement, anti-Israel activists found it nearly impossible to argue their position was a majority position, no attempts were made to bring changes to the floor.

    The California Democratic Party heard those concerns and we applaud their support for the Jewish community, including making sure that the section on refugee rights, asylum and sovereign protections under Article 13 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights was crafted in a way that excluded the complexities of the Israel-Palestine situation until a peace treaty is concluded. Anti-Israel activists repeatedly argued that the proposed language was inadequate to address their position and the CDP Platform committee unanimously disagreed.

    We also applaud additions that oppose attacks against groups of people based on their nationality, race or religion in response to the acts of a foreign government, (drafted in response to anti-Asian and antisemitic violence on the rise this country) and clarifications of the right to criticize (including boycotts) individuals or governments in a manner that perpetuates discrimination based on religion or race is not acceptable. This was a rebuke of the BDS movement, which seeks to target the Jewish community.

    Finally, we support the plank calling for the appointment of an international Islamophobia monitor, backing legislation supported by a large number of Jewish legislators.

    DFI-CA wishes to thank all the Democrats who stepped forward to ensure that they heard the concerns of the community, including our five Jewish Democratic Clubs (Democrats for Israel Los Angeles, Democrats for Israel Orange County, Democrats for Peace in the Middle East (San Diego), Jewish Democratic Club of Silicon Valley and Jewish Democrats of Greater Sacramento), Progressive Zionists of Calfornia, the Israel Campus Coalition.

    DFI-CA is especially appreciative of the leadership and resources of Democratic Majority for Israel, the California Jewish Legislative Caucus and the California Democratic Congressional delegation that were critical to ensuring our voices were heard.



    • [N]o collective group of persons in the United States, regardless of their nationality, religion, race or ethnicity should be attacked, vilified or held responsible for the acts of a foreign government.

    Support the right of individuals to criticize persons, corporations or government, but not for reasons of racial, religious, ethnic, gender identity, or sexual orientation discrimination;


    Proactively seek durable peace in the Middle East, including ending support for the Saudi-United Arab Emirates aggression in Yemen, opposing Turkish repression and aggression against Kurdish civilians in Northern Syria which has undermined years of cooperative security work to stop ISIS and Syrian from terrorizing innocent citizens and rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (2015 Iran nuclear agreement) with the ultimate goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon or a mechanism for delivery of nuclear weapons, and discourage the further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, encourage democratic forces in Iran, and strive to restore normal U.S.-Iran relations;

    • Continue to work toward a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict directly negotiated by the parties that guarantees equality, security and democracy for all; recognizes Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders; and, provides Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity;

    • Support efforts among representatives of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank to de-escalate tensions through good faith negotiations that recognize Israel’s future as a sovereign, secure, and democratic Jewish state and that can lead to security and independence for Palestinians.

    • Recognize that Israelis and Palestinians deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement and respectively should be free to govern themselves, each in their own viable states in peace and dignity;

    • Continue to support an end to the teaching and use of antisemitism and Islamophobia in discourse throughout the Middle East and beyond;

    Support pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13, the right of individuals to leave and return to their own country consistent with negotiated treaties and pursuant to Article 14, the right to seek asylum and be free from persecution;


  • 23 Sep 2021 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    Democrats for Israel California strongly supports Iron Dome funding.  Iron Dome is an anti-missile system which is a critical defensive measure against Hamas' rockets. After the most recent Hamas attacks of nearly 2,400 rockets, President Biden pledged to replenish the amounts in a supplemental appropriation. The attempt to pull it from the Debt Ceiling/Continuing Appropriation will not prevent the funding as Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro has already introduced legislation to provide the funding and unlike the Debt Ceiling (which Republicans repeatedly try to turn into a partisan issue and it always backfires), the DeLauro bill will have strong bipartisan support as Israel has enjoyed for decades and will continue to do so.

    It is telling that the Congressmembers who opposed Iron Dome funding are choosing a defensive tool that protects against a Hamas and Hezbollah attack tactic that has been repeatedly cited as violating international law. Unlike JDAMs (guided missiles that explode underground to target bunkers and tunnels), Iron Dome is a purely defensive weapon and U.S. security aid is a critical part of Israel's military advantage. This year's total US security assistance to Israel is about equal to approximately 4% of Israel's total annual budget.  It is also telling when any member of Congress puts this sort of issue ahead of funding the U.S. government.

    At the end of the day, this is meaningless empty action, as are Republican attempts to politicize the issue as they oppose the Debt Ceiling Bill either way and have already voted against appropriations bills funding Israel three times year.

  • 15 Sep 2021 10:50 AM | Anonymous

    DFI-CA and its 7 Democratic clubs were proud to help fight the Recall that resulted in a blowout against Republican efforts. 

    DFI-CA club members donated thousands to the official anti-recall efforts and club members participated in phone banks run by county Democratic organizations, Jewish Democratic Council of America and the Grassroots HQ.  The SoCal Jewish News published an op-ed opposing the recall by DFI-CA President Andrew Lachman.

  • 4 Sep 2021 8:45 PM | Anonymous

    Why Jews should oppose the California gubernatorial recall

    Andrew Lachman

    Republicans nationwide spent millions to push California to spend $215 million on the Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom. Just because outside interests can pay professional signature gatherers to prompt a ballot initiative or a recall election doesn’t necessarily mean their efforts are wrong or misguided. But examining how California is faring compared with the rest of the country, and the candidates running to replace Newsom, there don’t appear to be many reasons to support his recall.

    There are a multitude of reasons the Jewish community should vote “no” on the recall, and not only because the effort was run by activists with ties to militia groups that frequently use Nazi imagery to promote their campaign. Nor should Jews simply vote “no” because the candidates running to replace Newsom are a scary bunch — including a group of Trump sycophants: 2018 failed gubernatorial candidate John Cox (who was served with a subpoena during a live public debate on Aug. 17), bombastic talk show host Larry Elder and reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner. Other dubious candidates include far-right Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, and Kevin Paffrath, a “Democrat” with no actual Democratic Party support.

    Rather, Jewish voters should vote “no” because Newsom is actually doing a decent job representing us and our values. COVID-19 Delta variant cases have skyrocketed throughout the South and devastated “no mask” states such as Texas and Florida, which have more new cases per day than California. California’s new cases per capita are below the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control, California has had fewer cases per 100,000 residents than all the West Coast, Southwest and Southern states. The state boasts the highest vaccine utilization rates with more than 80% of Californians having received at least one vaccination dose and, during the pandemic, California and cities within the state have provided rent support and help for small businesses. Masks, vaccines and smart health policies are working and our economy is still the fifth-largest in the world.

    Newsom is a strong ally for the Jewish community. When far-left extremists tried to implement an ethnic studies program in 2020 that was far more expansive in scope than the legislation required and contained multiple antisemitic sources, Newsom vetoed the bill and worked with the Jewish Legislative Caucus along with other groups to demand a more inclusive curriculum that focused on African Americans, Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. The amended curriculum also expunged Jewish stereotypes, antisemitic references and included lesson plans around antisemitism and the Ashkenazi, Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish experience.

    Newsom also is a strong defender of the Jewish community and Jewish institutions. He immediately denounced an attack on several Jewish diners by apparent Palestinian supporters in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles in May, which occurred during Palestinian-Israeli hostilities in the Mideast. As the Jewish Legislative Caucus has noted, Newsom has made major investments in the Jewish community, including $65 million for the state’s nonprofit Security Grant Program to keep synagogues safe; $13.5 million for Jewish museums and libraries, including the L.A. Museum of Tolerance and the Holocaust Museum LA; $23 million to repair Jewish day camps damaged by the 2018 Woolsey and the 2017 Tubbs fires; $14.8 million for the Multipurpose Seniors Program; and $5.7 million for Jewish Family Service LA’s SOVA food bank program.

    As the Jewish Legislative Caucus has noted, Newsom has made major investments in the Jewish community, including $65 million for the state’s nonprofit Security Grant Program to keep synagogues safe and $13.5 million for Jewish museums and libraries, including the L.A. Museum of Tolerance and the Holocaust Museum LA.

    Newsom also appointed Alex Padilla to the U.S. Senate — a longtime, ardent supporter of Israel. And if California’s other Senate seat becomes vacant, Newsom would appoint a pro-Israel Democrat to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein, thus maintaining the Democratic majority in the Senate.

    Newsom also has fought for our values, for protecting the environment, responding to climate change, helping protect working Californians and seniors, and keeping us safe and healthy during these uncertain times. Not a single gubernatorial candidate has proposed policies around these issues.

    The Jewish community has an ally in Newsom. We cannot afford to lose his leadership and trade it in for any of these unpredictable, far-right candidates that are out of sync with our values. Recall ballots are due Sept. 14, after Rosh Hashanah and right before Yom Kippur. Reflecting on how far we’ve come during these trying times and what is at risk, we should send our ballots to vote “no” before the Sept. 14 deadline.

    Andrew Lachman is a technology attorney, a Truman security partner and president of Democrats for Israel California, an alliance of six Jewish Democratic clubs in California.

  • 1 Sep 2021 5:33 PM | Anonymous

    Jewish voters and activists are joining Democrats across the state to fight this Republican-funded recall.  Governor Newsom's leadership has shown as our Delta-variant COVID cases have not skyrocketed the way Florida and Texas has. The stakes are too high and Governor Newsom's record is closely aligned with Jewish community values. 

    • Jewish groups praised Governor Newsom's leadership for his veto of the 2020 Ethnic Studies Bill until antisemitic content was removed.
    • Governor Newsom has continued to build close relationships with Israel to increase trade and share water conservation technology.
    • Newsom has made major investments in the Jewish community such as:
      • $65 million authorized for the Nonprofit Security program to keep synagogues safe.
      • $13.5 million for Jewish museums and libraries such as the LA Museum of Tolerance, the LA Museum of the Holocaust and the Tauber Holocaust Library operated by Jewish Family Services in the Bay Area
      • $23 million to repair Jewish day camps damaged by the Woolsey and Tubbs fires.
      • $14.8 for the Multipurpose Seniors Program
      • $5.7 million for LA Jewish Family Services SOVA food bank program
      • $8 million for the Enhanced Service Program for Asylees which was a top priority for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

    We can not afford to lose Governor Newsom's leadership and trade it in for the multitude of Trump loyalists running to replace him, especially if something happens to Senator Feinstein, but also because of this leadership on the environment, education and keeping the state on track fighting COVID.

  • 13 Jun 2021 10:43 PM | Anonymous


    Democrats for Israel California congratulates the eight-party coalition that has voted to replace the 12-year rule of Benjamin Netanyahu and Yariv Levin as Knesset Speaker. We congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on this momentous occasion. We No longer will we have a government that demonizes or eschews Democrats, Palestinian/Arab Israeli citizens, an independent court or any other group that questions the government, or seeks greater inclusion. Unlike the previous governing coalition, this leadership does not seem focused on undermining of multiple democratic institutions such as the courts and a free press.

    Under the terms of the coalition agreement between center, left and right parties, we see a commitment to compromise and restoring democratic and inclusionary policies to help heal Israel and revive its standing in the world. The inclusion of Arab Knesset parties in the government for the first time since 1977 and the first appointment of three Arab and Druze ministers is a return to decency and inclusive values. Living up to the inclusive values Israel was founded on strengthens its Jewish identity by creating a more secure Israel for all of its citizens. Bennett and Lapid's commitment to restoring these values are demonstrative of the strength of a democracy and the never-ending quest to live up to those values.

    We call on all Democrats to redouble our dedication to working with our democratic partners on the ground on our shared vision of a peaceful and inclusive Israel.

    Below are some highlights of the coalition deal, which is signed into law, along with the pledge that both Bennett and Lapid will each serve two years as Prime Minister:

    • Checks and balances that gives leaders (Lapid and Bennett) the ability to veto non-consensus policies.
    • Votes to reform the "Nation-State" law that diminishes the value and voices of Israel's Druze and Arab/Palestinian populations.
    • Education reform to standardize basic curriculum topics (e.g. history, science, math) and funding for all three Israeli education tracks.
    • Greater civil rights protections for women, LGBT and Arab-Palestinians (including freezing home demolitions in the Negev and the "Kaminitz law" that requires the Israeli government to demolish unpermitted improvements (the Israeli government makes getting such permits very difficult - 93% of such applications in Israel and East Jerusalem are rejected).
    • Increased funding for Arab/Palestinian communities.
    • 8-Year Term limits for Prime Ministers
    • Creating a more democratic and inclusive structure to appoint rabbis for conversions and kashrut (kosher certifications).
    • The creation of binding greenhouse gas emission regulations.

  • 7 Jun 2021 9:32 PM | Anonymous
    This week, Jewish-Americans were stopped at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles, asked if they were Jewish and attacked by Pro-Palestinian activists.  In San Francisco, Manny's a Jewish-owned business in the Mission was defaced with Anti-Israel and Antisemitic propaganda.  This business was targeted because the owner was Jewish.

    The owner Manny Yekutiel, has served as member of the Democratic State Central Committee and is known for hosting free events for a number of progressive San Francisco community organizations.

    While 92% of US Jews support the right of Israel to exist, it is inherently Antisemitic to hold any individual Jew responsible for the acts of Israel, much less to harass, assault, harangue or vandalize their property.  The ADL has noted a sharp uptick in Antisemitic acts (over 17,000), ranging from offensive tweets like #Hitlerwasright to outright acts of vandalism in violence.  Just as violence against Asian American Pacific Islanders increased as US tensions with China rose, so too have acts of violence against Jews risen in the past two weeks.  

    DFI-CA appreciates the support of those in the community that have stood against these despicable and cowardly acts. We stand with Manny and the thousands of other Jews targeted by hate. Senator Bernie Sanders called for toning down the rhetoric and focusing on bringing people together, we urge others to follow that lead.

  • 10 May 2021 10:41 PM | Anonymous


    Like many communities around the world, the Jewish Democratic community in California is following the events unfolding in Sheikh Jarrah. Whatever the complex history, we know that these evictions are unjust and do not reflect our values as Democrats, especially when there are readily available avenues by the court and the government to resolve these matters. What is clear - justice, reform and confrontation of untruth are the key to healing, not re-litigating the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. A de-escalation of both the violence and rhetoric will also be helpful in getting on this path, including stopping Hamas from firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, which has now led to civilian fatalities and damage to Israeli Jewish and Arab-populated cities and villages. Hamas' involvement only makes the damage, death and destruction worse.

    Sheik Jarrah is not about gentrification; this situation has amplified greater issues around the abuses of the Israeli Right who push to turn Israel from a Democracy with Jewish character (as Bernie Sanders described it) away from democratic and inclusive structures and institutions, toward a less inclusive vision. To that end, we believe a Knesset review and update to the laws around expropriation of land subject to claims may be in order, to avoid future injustices perpetrated by right wing groups while protecting the rights of individuals to live in and purchase a home in Israel.

    Democrats for Israel California welcomes thoughtful discussion about a path forward that focuses on justice, stands up to the extremists, and de-escalates the conflict. Democrats for Israel California also calls for direct confrontation to the falsehoods around this conflict and engagement in dialogue amongst our American counterparts to find common ground.

    There is a path forward, but the parties must work together to find pathways to focus on justice and stand up to the extremists in the conflict. Democrats for Israel California has reached out to members of the Pro-Palestinian community to engage in those discussions and we look forward to meaningful dialogue.


    Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood north of the Old City of Jerusalem, consisted of a Jewish and Muslim quarter for well over a hundred years. As of 1905, the neighborhood had 167 Muslim families and 97 Jewish families that lived close to the tomb of “Simeon the Just,” an ancient high priest that bears the name for the quarter where Jews lived since several rabbis purchased the land in 1875 for their organizations, seeking to provide opportunities to live in the community. As a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jews fled parts of East Jerusalem and Jordan drove out remaining Jews from East Jerusalem, including Sheikh Jarrah, and with UNRWA gave the homes in Sheikh Jarrah to Palestinian families displaced from West Jerusalem (this is not unusual, Israel did the same thing throughout Israel after the war creating their own absentee property laws).

    When Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, Israel passed a law allowing displaced landowners to recover the land and the religiously-affiliated organizations and families sought to recover the land. In 1982, the issue went to the Israeli Supreme Court which upheld the law and the claims but worked a deal for families to stay in Sheikh Jarrah and pay rent. Not all the tenants paid rent, and some made improvements to their properties without permits (Jerusalem is notorious for refusing building permits to Palestinians). These residents have the right to vote in Jerusalem municipal elections, but Palestinian activists strongly discourage this sort of participation, which would give them input to fight this sort of discriminatory behavior.

    At the same time, Israeli religious right-wing groups have purchased the rights to these properties from the original Jewish families and groups that owned the properties prior to 1948, and are seeking to move Jewish families into the neighborhood. Further, aggressive policies have resulted in Israelis literally moving into and occupying part of a home already occupied by Palestinians for decades. In 2019, the Israel Supreme Court again revisited the issue, and rather than remunerate the absentee landowners and settle ownership once and for all, the Court held that religious right-wing organizations that purchased the rights to these properties from the original landholders could evict not only the four families fighting eviction, but the ruling could also open to the door to evict any residents in these properties, affecting more than 300 families.

    While this may seem like a simple legal issue, it is not. As with everything in the region, there are layers of complexity, including deep income disparities, neglect of Jerusalem’s Arab residents and a focused campaign by the Israeli Right to, through both legal and illegal means, push Arabs out of Jerusalem, even in the middle of a pandemic. These issues and a long outmoded set of laws that were once intended to reunite Jewish landowners with their properties, are being increasingly abused 70 years after the conflict by the Israeli Right to push Arab families out of the West Bank and Jerusalem. As such, this has created a tinder box of resentment by the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian community, making Sheikh Jarrah a symbol of a larger struggle than the legal issues presented. The Jerusalem Institute, a non-profit organization focusing on urban sustainability, urban planning and economic justice, presented a solution in 2010 recommending possible solutions that would keep Palestinians in their homes such as expropriating the homes from these organizations.

    Justice, Reform and Confrontation of Untruths Are the Key to Healing.

    Whatever the complex history, we know that these evictions are unjust and as Democrats we do not support them, especially when there are readily available avenues by the court and the government to resolve this dispute, which has been ongoing since 1982, and the Israeli Supreme Court and government can take these steps. Just because the Israeli government can enforce long outdated laws to displace a minority indigenous population with a majority indigenous population does not mean that they should or that it is the right thing to do. The Israeli Government and Supreme Court should take such steps to allow these families in their homes and demonstrators, and both Palestinian and Israelis, should take steps to refrain from violence or provocation.

    Just as Democratic Pro-Israel advocates and Pro-Palestinian advocates agreed on resolutions calling for all countries - including Israel - to share COVID-19 vaccine surpluses and and opposed Israeli Annexation of the West bank, supporting a country's right to exist does not mean it is without grounds for criticism (US, Israel or anyone else) even when uncomfortable as is the case here. That also means directly confronting the falsehoods and intentional confligrations that are being propagated by extremists and not encouraging the violence that has affected both Israeli and Palestinians..

    Democrats for Israel California is usually not inclined to involve itself in domestic affairs of Israel. While our member clubs expressed reservations about the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ahead of the peace processes, we supported the right of Israel to determine its capital. We have only spoken out against domestic policy on the attempts to deny women access to the Western Wall and the involvement of Kahanists in the Israeli governing coalitions of Netanyahu.

    It is clear that Israel must prioritize justice for all of its residents. It must consider both the Jerusalem Institute recommendations and review its laws around land expropriation, which may have made sense in 1967, but are being used more and more by right-wing nationalist groups to push Arab/Palestinians out of homes they have been in for 70 years or more.Organizations and corporations buying up rights of families to land lost decades ago in the West Bank and Jerusalem has led to countless abuses and fraud. Perhaps, non-transferable remuneration by the state to Jewish families with claims to properties in Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, not return, should be the key for resolving ownership claims and avoiding displacement of families.

    Democrats for Israel California also calls for direct confrontation to the falsehoods around this conflict and engagement in dialogue amongst our American counterparts to find common ground. Palestinian operatives continue to spread lies that Israeli police teach American police how to kneel on suspect’s necks and attack and have used the conflict to attack civilians or declare every act of private Israeli citizens is a war crime, or that Israel's very existence or broad brush statements that Zionism in every form is a racist endeavor). Similarly, the Israeli Right has sought to characterize the entire conflict as an Arab invasion and make it sound like the case involves only four families when the decision can have a direct effect on over 300 families in Sheikh Jarrah. We understand why the disputes over Sheikh Jarrah are reflective of greater issues facing Palestinians and Israelis, but the path to avoid further conflagration and violence is through dialogue.

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