Pro-Israel group urges California Democrats to reject anti-Israel resolutions at upcoming convention

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Gavin Newsom, who now serves as California's governor, speaking at the 2018 California Democratic Convention in San Diego. Credit: California Democratic Party via Facebook

The Progressive Zionists of California, whose members have come under anti-Semitic verbal attacks, noted that six resolutions “demonize Israel” and are a distraction from the real issues affecting Californians.

(May 30, 2019 / JNS) A group of pro-Israel activists from the Progressive Zionists of California is urging members of the California Democratic Party (CDP) to oppose several anti-Israel resolutions that were submitted to the party by anti-Israel activists ahead of the party’s convention this weekend in San Francisco.

In a statement to JNS, the group Progressive Zionists of California noted that six resolutions “demonize Israel” and are a distraction from the real issues affecting Californians.Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

“The convention this weekend in San Francisco is a time for California Democrats to come together and focus on electing new leadership for our state party, and on the issues that affect the lives of Californians—affordable housing, guaranteed healthcare, immigration reform, climate change, police brutality, free public education, protecting women’s and LGBTQ rights, and much more,” the statement said.

“These six anti-Israel resolutions divide us rather than bring us together,” it continued. “They give no care for the human rights, self-determination, and safety of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland. As they all demonize Israel and hold Palestinian leadership completely harmless, one resolution even calls for the destruction of Israel as the Jewish state.”

Among the resolutions submitted to the CDP’s Resolutions Committee are ending Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank, Gaza, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights; calling for the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees; encouraging California Democrats to attend Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) upcoming trip to the West Bank; and amending the CDP’s definition of anti-Semitism to exclude all criticism of Israel.

The resolutions also condemn U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and ending Israel’s “blockade” of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

The current CDP platform adopted in 2018 supports Israel as a “democratic Jewish state with recognized borders,” while also endorsing a two-state solution, and that Israelis and Palestinians “deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement.”

It also calls for the “end the teaching and use of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in discourse throughout the Middle East and beyond, and oppose efforts to undermine the equal rights of Israel and Palestine.”

‘Some have felt bullied and intimidated’

Paul Kujawsky, a Los Angeles attorney, a former president of Democrats for Israel in L.A. and a member of the steering committee of Progressive Zionists of California, told JNS that a number of far-left activists within the Progressive Caucus and Arab-American Caucus are pressing the CDP against Israel.

“They push the ideas that you can’t be both progressive and pro-Israel; that Israel is a racist, colonialist apartheid state; and that ‘human rights’ demands the Palestinian ‘right of return’ and a single state (in which the Jews will be a minority),” he said.

While the anti-Israel resolutions submitted to the Resolutions Committee do not show any authors, according to a letter obtained by JNS, activists associated with the pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace and the Sacramento Palestine Coalition are tied to them.

Additionally, Iyad Afalqa, chair of the Arab-American Caucus, is listed in the letter as one of the authors of the resolutions. Earlier this year, Afalqa called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) a “shmuck,” a “traitor” and a member of a “fascist Israel lobby” on Facebook.

“This group is loud and aggressive, and some pro-Israel Democrats have felt bullied and intimidated,” said Kujawsky. “I myself have been called a white supremacist and supporter of genocide merely for being a Zionist.”

According to the Progressive Zionists of California, there has been a spate of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist slurs directed at Jewish and pro-Israel CDP members on social media.

Among them, the group said, include accusing individuals of supporting genocide, racism and comparing Zionism to Nazism and the Ku Klux Klan.

“In response, some of us came together to create Progressive Zionists of California—to push back against the growing anti-Zionism in the CDP and to show that Democrats can be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian by supporting ‘two states for two peoples,’ ” said Kujawsky.

As a result, the Progressive Zionists of California have proposed their own resolution that calls on the California Democratic Party to condemn hate speech in all its forms against ethnic and religious groups, including all forms of anti-Semitic hate speech; including anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, both within and without the California Democratic Party, when used against any individual; or to slur the aspirations of Jews or those who support Jews.”

Kujawsky said that from the messages he has received from the Resolutions Committee and the Legislation Committee, he is optimistic that no anti-Israel resolutions will be approved at the convention this weekend.

“Our hope,” he emphasized, “is that this convention will show that the anti-Zionists in the CDP are a loud, but small, and now-ineffective minority.”

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