A Jewish attendee of the California Democratic Party's state convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, May 31, 2019 (Photo/Dan Pine)
Matthew Finkelstein, a Jewish attendee of the California Democratic Party's state convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, May 31, 2019 (Photo/Dan Pine)

California Democrats need to stop demonizing Israel

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At the California Democratic Party State Convention in late May and early June, a number of biased resolutions targeting Israel were considered and some were adopted. This should concern every American.

Thanks to the commendable efforts of pro-Israel Democrats, as reported by J., many of the resolutions were amended prior to adoption. Groups such as the Progressive Zionists of California and the California Legislative Jewish Caucus worked to educate the committee and temper the rhetoric. Unfortunately, and in spite of the achievements by pro-Israel Democrats, the California Democratic Party went on to adopt at least four resolutions that unfairly target Israel.

In Resolution 19-05.17, California Democrats shamefully blame the failed Israeli-Palestinian Arab peace process “in good part, due to the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu’s extremist, right-wing Israeli government coalition.” This statement is outrageous, belied by historical realities. Netanyahu has not set pre-conditions for peace negotiations, beyond recognition of Israel’s right to exist, whereas the Palestinian Authority has refused to negotiate since 2008.

Resolution 19-05.17 does contain language correctly acknowledging Palestinian wrongdoing: “Palestinian leaders [are] continuing to allow Anti-Semitic teachings in schools, failing to rein in violent anti-Semitic rhetoric, failing to stem corruption, and refusing to hold national elections for over 14 years.” But this language is almost an afterthought, hastily added after the resolution blamed the lack of peace on the policies of the Netanyahu and Trump governments.

The resolution does not attribute any blame to the decades of Palestinian terrorism and radicalism. The California Democratic Party isn’t serving the peace process by distorting the truth and ignoring the true obstacles to peace: unrelenting Palestinian Arab intransigence, their anti-normalization policy, incitement to violence and murder of Jews.

Additionally, attacking Israel’s democratically elected government as “extremist” is a travesty. The resolution fails to mention that the democratically elected government of the Palestinian Arab people is Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that launches attacks on Israeli civilians from within its own civilian population centers, a double war crime.

The resolution also fails to mention that Israel’s purported “peace partner,” the PA (formerly PLO) was best known for airplane hijackings prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords and continues to incite violence to this day, orchestrating the suicide bombing operations during the second intifada which killed over 1,000 Israelis, and the more recent “Stabbing Intifada” in 2015-16.

The PA has refused to discontinue its pay-to-slay program, paying salaries to terrorists and their families for attacking Israeli civilians. For California Democrats to adopt a resolution falsely accusing the Netanyahu government of extremism while ignoring the actual, violent extremism and terrorist activity of the Palestinian Arab leadership is reprehensible.

Resolutions 19-05.17 and 19-05.34 wrongly complain about cuts in U.S. aid to Palestinian Arab programs — ignoring the fact that these programs are corrupt and have disgracefully misused U.S. taxpayer dollars to reward Palestinian Arab terrorism.

Both resolutions mention the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which thankfully is no longer funded by the U.S. and is a prime example of the corruption problem. UNRWA exclusively serves Palestinian Arab refugees. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees oversees the remainder of the world’s displaced persons.

A tremendous disparity exists between these two agencies. UNRWA has its own expansive definition of who is a refugee, granting refugee status not only to those who were directly displaced during conflict, but also to their descendants, in perpetuity. In all other cases, refugee status is accorded only to those who were directly displaced as a result of conflict. UNRWA has become a self-serving machine, employing members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another U.S.-designated terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of promoting peace, UNRWA schools indoctrinate Palestinian students to hate Israel.

California Democrats should have passed a resolution that supports the U.S. funding cuts until the corruption and incitement finally stop.

The California Democratic Party also adopted Resolutions 19-05.32 and 19-05.74 which defend and endorse the anti-Israel bias of Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, Democratic congresswomen from Michigan and Minnesota, respectively.

Resolution 19-05.32 encourages California’s congressional representatives to participate in Tlaib’s congressional delegation to “Palestine.” “Palestine” does not exist as an independent nation today, nor has it at any time in history. By choosing to refer to the Palestinian territories as “Palestine,” the California Democratic Party is inappropriately pre-determining the outcome of peace negotiations and is, in effect, undermining the very need for negotiations.

This has been the modus operandi of the Palestinian Authority for over a decade — to try to circumvent peace negotiations through international recognition of a de-facto state of “Palestine.” The resolution also ignores Tlaib’s open hostility to Israel, which should have been shunned rather than embraced.

Tlaib calls Israel a “racist country” and supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and also the destruction of Israel in favor of an Arab-dominated state (“It has to be one state”). Tlaib also “absolutely” backs withholding U.S. aid from Israel. Given her record, there is no doubt that Tlaib’s delegation, now endorsed by California Democrats, will unfairly incite and fuel animosity toward Israel.

Resolution 19-05.74 calls on the Democratic Party to condemn “President Trump and the media for targeting and fomenting hate and violence against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.” Missing is any condemnation, let alone mention, of Omar’s record of anti-Semitism.

Omar has tweeted about AIPAC buying congressional support with “Benjamins” ($100 bills) and she has falsely accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world.” Although she claimed not to realize these comments were anti-Semitic and she eventually apologized, her anti-Semitism continued.

She promoted the anti-Semitic canard of dual loyalty (“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country”) and falsely accused her “Jewish colleagues” of being anti-Muslim simply because they rightly called out her anti-Semitism. Resolution 19-05.74 should have condemned Omar and made it clear that California Democrats abhor and reject her views.

Support for Israel, a bastion of liberal values and our most reliable ally in the Middle East, was once a nonpartisan issue.

At their recent convention, however, California Democrats did not do enough to demonstrate that this is still the case and that the party is still solidly in Israel’s corner. They must make it clearer that the Democratic Party rejects all forms of anti-Semitism, including the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state.

David Kadosh
David Kadosh

David Kadosh is executive director of the Western region of the Zionist Organization of America.