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CA Progressive Zionists Decry “Anti-Israel” Test in Questionnaire

[additional-authors]
January 27, 2021

The Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) have denounced a questionnaire from the Progressive Delegates Network, a “state-wide network of experienced grassroots organizers” promoting progressive candidates and causes, for promoting an anti-Israel litmus test.

The questionnaire features five statements of affirmation that delegates to the state Democratic Party need to adhere to; one statement says that they will oppose “legislation restricting our Constitutional freedom to advocate for the boycott, divestment, and/or sanction of countries that engage in routine human rights violations.” Another states that delegates will support the “human rights of all refugees, including the right to leave and return.”

Susan George, the executive director of PZC, said in a statement to the Journal, “As progressive Zionists we stand for a more progressive vision for California, especially at a time when so many people are falling through the cracks due to the pandemic, lack of health care, housing insecurity and joblessness. It’s baffling for Progressive Delegates Network to have 2 of their 5 issue affirmations focused–obliquely though clearly enough for those familiar with the issues–on a complex, international conflict. Moreover, the leadership of the Progressive Caucus has spearheaded numerous anti-Israel or BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] efforts in the party, including the floor fight at the November 2019 convention over a platform plank that would have the California Democratic Party endorsing a unilateral Palestinian right of return to Israel. So when organizers tell us, ‘this is not really about Israel,’ please excuse us when we call BS.”

She added that two of the organizers of the Progressive Delegates Network had previously “attempted unsuccessfully to have the caucus endorse a stridently anti-Israel, pro-BDS organization, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights” in 2018.

Karen Bernal, one of the Progressive Delegates Network organizers, told the Jewish News of Northern California (the J), “We have a situation with Kashmir and India and even on our own southern border. It includes Israel but isn’t exclusive to Israel. It applies to lots of countries. It’s a nonviolent, time-honored form of protest.”

On the other hand, Jody Pratt, a delegate candidate in the Sacramento area, told the J that Bernal’s rationale “doesn’t pass the smell test,” pointing to the fact that the questionnaire cites “the [United Nations] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which targets Israel.”

Mike Harris, who heads San Francisco Voice for Israel, similarly tweeted analogized the questionnaire to a bill providing“tax breaks for business, written so that only 1 company qualifies.” He added in a subsequent tweet that the goal is to make sure “that this extremist fringe remains exactly that— a fringe.”

https://twitter.com/DrMikeH49/status/1354523164995280900?s=20

https://twitter.com/DrMikeH49/status/1354523166069059585?s=20

PZC has launched a petition calling on the Progressive Caucus leadership and state party leadership to ensure that “progressives who support a Jewish and democratic state and peace between Israelis and Palestinians but oppose discriminatory boycotts must not be forced out of progressive spaces.”

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