SFWAR learning what could be a costly lesson

We commend the city of San Francisco for demanding that San Francisco Women Against Rape drop its anti-Zionism stance or face losing city funds.

As we reported last week, unless SFWAR signs a new city contract declaring it has dropped its anti-Zionism message, it will lose an annual allocation of $277,990 from the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women.

The executive director of that department, Belle Taylor-McGhee, told us, “We do not fund them to take a position on Zionism.”

She added, “This is not a free speech issue. It’s a use of money issue. The city has said you cannot use our money in this way.”

As we reported in July, SFWAR had an online application for volunteers and interns that asked them to participate in “political education discussions” that included “taking a stance against Zionism.”

The online application has since been removed from the Web site, and interested parties are asked to call in for an application.

Does this mean SFWAR has dropped its anti-Zionist stance? We doubt it.

The Jewish Community Relations Council, which has been dealing with the SFWAR situation on virtually a daily basis since July, won’t be satisfied until the rape counseling center issues an apology to the Jewish community.

JCRC has had private meetings with Nina Jusuf, the executive director of SFWAR. During those meetings, JCRC tried to explain to Jusuf how offended the Jewish community was about her anti-Zionism stance. Apparently she never got the message.

So while JCRC is pleased with the city’s action, it is now recommending that women who need rape counseling avoid SFWAR and go to the Rape Treatment Center/Trauma Recovery Program run through UCSF Medical Center and San Francisco General Hospital.

It so happens that when the new contract the city is signing with SFWAR expires next July, UCSF and S.F. General will have expanded all their programs to be competitive with SFWAR.

The two medical centers will be adding a comparable peer-counseling service and an expanded crisis hotline by next July. But in the meantime, JCRC is satisfied that both facilities can provide the services needed by most rape victims.

No doubt, pressure will be put on city officials to stop funding SFWAR next July and choose the UCSF/ S.F. General program as its new rape counseling provider.

We can only hope that happens.

As a recipient of both state and city funds, SFWAR had no business involving itself in political issues. It’s time to clip its wings.