The Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) held a rally protesting anti-Semitism in front of the California Democratic Party convention at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center on Nov. 16.
Around 74 people attended the rally to hear speakers including State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-San Fernando Valley), vice chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “I am proud to be Jewish, I am proud to be progressive and I’m not going to let anybody make me choose between those two identities,” Gabriel said, adding that the Jewish community is committed to fighting for social justice.
“We are going to stand up and fight for the values that our community holds dear, and we are going to make sure that no amount of anti-Semitism is going to push us out of any space,” he said.
Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin told attendees that the United States has a history of welcoming Jews, including his father, a Holocaust survivor from Romania. However, he said anti-Semitism is now “rearing its ugly head yet again.” He urged attendees “to speak up when we hear anti-Semitism or anti-Semitic tropes, be they from the right or even from within our own party.”
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) warned attendees of an amendment to the state party’s platform that would face a vote on Nov. 17 calling for the Palestinian Right of Return to Israel. (The amendment failed with around 75% of delegates voting against it).
“It advocates to not have a two state solution, but to have a one state solution that is not the state of Israel,” Wiener said. “This advocates for the liquidation and destruction of the state of Israel. We have to be explicit on what this is: anti-Semitism.”
“When we look at the rise of white nationalism and neo-Nazism in this country, we can’t take anything for granted. We need the state of Israel to continue to exist.” — Sen. Scott Wiener
Wiener argued that the existence of Israel is important to the Jewish community because, “When we look at the rise of white nationalism and neo-Nazism in this country, we can’t take anything for granted. We need the state of Israel to continue to exist.”
American Jewish Committee (AJC) San Francisco Associate Director Eran Hazary highlighted results from the AJC’s October survey on anti-Semitism, including that 9 in 10 American Jews think anti-Semitism is a problem in 2019; nearly a third of American Jews avoid wearing religious clothing in public; and a third of American Jewish students said they experienced anti-Semitism on a college campus.
“This is an epidemic and it calls for each of us to be vigilant in rooting out anti-Semitism where we see it,” Hazary said. “But also, it’s a cause for us to be introspective. It’s not enough to just call out anti-Semitism where it happens. We have to change the culture. We have to change the climate that feeds it.”
He also noted that most American Jews view the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as anti-Semitic. “Statements such as ‘Zionism is evil’ or ‘Israel has no right to exist’ have no place in a pluralistic society,” Hazary said.
Other speakers at the rally included Democratic Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, California Democratic Party delegate Amy Wiwuga, AJC Los Angeles Assistant Director and Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa board member Siamak Kordestani, Democrats for Israel Los Angeles Chairman Andrew Lachman, Jewish Federation and Family Services Rose Project Director Lisa Armony, California Young Democrats Jewish Caucus Chair Rachel Bracker, Anti-Defamation League board member Rabbi Stephen Einstein, PZC founding member Andrea Beth Damsky and Dr. Michael Harris, author of the 2015 book “Winning a Debate with an Israel Hater: How to Challenge Anti-Israel Extremists In Your Neighborhood.”