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  • 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.

  • 17 Mar 2021 11:30 AM | Anonymous


    Democrats for Israel California stands in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and against hate and racial violence that claimed eight lives last night. The Jewish and AAPI communities share a long history of being targeted and attacked by right-wing hate groups. While the targeting of APPI individuals has been going on for some time, but under the Trump Administration, anti-AAPI rhetoric from the very top filtered down with the inevitable result -- a tragic and sharp uptick of violence against members of the AAPI community.

    After the Tree of Life Synagogue attack, more than 100 AAPI organizations spoke out and came to support of the Jewish community. Today, we too state that an attack on any one group is an attack on all Americans, whether it was the shootings at synagogues in Poway and Pittsburgh, escalating violence against Asian Americans punctuated by yesterday's shooting in Atlanta, the Muslim travel ban and attacks in Christchurch, the attacks on Sikhs in Stanislaus and Sacramento, the long history of anti-Black violence in this country or the far-Right march in Charlottesville and insurrection in Washington that targeted us all. These acts have no place in America. Elected officials and law enforcement must move quickly to address and provide concrete results to combat racism, discrimination and violence against our Asian Americans and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters. It's on all us us to #StopAAPIHate.

  • 14 Mar 2021 11:25 PM | Anonymous

    - Andrew Lachman - Since the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s (IHRA) “Working Definition of Antisemitism” was adopted by President Obama’s State Department in 2010 and then by parties and leaders on the right and left, by over 31 countries and by educational institutions from California to London, there’s been a great deal of debate over it.

    The definition itself has elicited few objections:

    Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

    But the accompanying “Contemporary examples of antisemitism,” which focus on speech about Israel and the right of Jews to self-determination, have elicited pushback from some pro-Palestinian and progressive Jewish groups who are concerned that the examples can be abused or politicized to stifle discussion about Israeli policy. Jewish identity is strongly intertwined with Israel’s existence, but that said, while any guideline can be abused, the guidelines might actually help set a useful precedent to limit the abuses critics are concerned about.....  MORE

  • 25 Feb 2021 11:00 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to more than 70 DFI-CA members and supporters who were elected to to Assembly District level delegates to the California Democratic Party Democratic Central Committee., joining the over 100 other members who are elected official appointees or elected county committee members.

    AD 14 - Susan George

    AD 54 - Naomi Goldman, Elina Antoniou, Steve Bartlett 

    AD 19 - Michael Sweet, Martin Rawlings-Fein

     AD 66 - Amy Howorth, Tony Hale, Andrew DeBlock, Susan Goodlerner

    AD 29 - Glenn Glazer

     AD 68 -  Lee Finik, Ted Perle
    AD 38 - Jodie Cooper, Brandon Zavala AD 71 - Tom Lemmon, 

    Kenya Taylor

    AD 42 - Patrick Weiss

     AD 72 - Stephen Einstein
    AD 44 - Josh Donner  AD 73 - Alan Fenning, Lori Fromme
     AD 45 - Kiyomi Kowalski, Renay Grace Rodriguez, Doris Dent, Victoria Solkovits, Michelle Fowle, Yasmine Pomeroy, Micha Liberman, Gregg Solkovits, Cary Brown, CJ Berina

    AD 74 - Bethany Webb, , Lauren Johnson-Norris, Kev Abazajian

     AD 46 - Lauren Fishman Perotti, Samantha Dorf, Steve Pierson

    Daniel Tamm, Lester Aponte, John Alford, Michael Swords

    AD 76 - Kevin Sabellico, Al Goodman, Cecily Resnick, Robert Howard, Kathy Rallings

    AD 50 - Aura Vazquez, Tamara Levinson Meltzer, Jackie Pepper, Sepi Shyne, Caroline Torosis, Jon Kat, Steve Bott, Scott Epstein, Brian Kolker

    AD 77 - John Finkelman, Jason Bercovitch

    AD 78  - Janessa Goldbeck, Jess Durfee

  • 5 Nov 2020 5:33 AM | Anonymous

    Democrats for Israel California elected its first Executive Board, with three clubs initially affiliating - Democrats for Israel Los Angeles, Democrats for Israel Orange County and San Diego's Democrats for Peace in the Middle East.   Over 40 delegates attended to elect officers from Solano, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

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