August 18, 2019

Anti-Israel Language Removed from CA Dem Resolutions

The anti-Israel language featured in drafted resolutions at the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco was removed on May 31, the Jewish News of Northern California reported.

California Democratic Party Resolutions Committee member and Democrats for Israel Los Angeles President Andrew Lachman told the Journal in a phone interview that the committee revised a resolution calling for the United States to restore funding to aid in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as well as funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to say that “we should restore aid to the Palestinians when UNRWA stops teaching anti-Semitism in the schools and we have more oversight to ensure that Hamas doesn’t steal the aid.” The same resolution also solely blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the lack of peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict was edited to say that both sides need to take better steps toward achieving peace. Another resolution calling for Israel and Egypt to end their Gaza blockades was revised to say that the blockades should be lifted only if there’s “more oversight” on Hamas and if Hamas stops launching rockets against Israel, Lachman said.

Lachman added that resolutions mandating that state party officials provide equal time in meeting with Palestinians and requiring California Democrats in the House of Representatives to attend Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) trip to the Palestinian territories. Language accusing the Israeli government of siding with far-right anti-Semitic groups in the United States calling for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, were also removed.

The aforementioned resolutions all passed with unanimous votes from the 35-member committee, according to Lachman.

“These resolutions had elements that were covered in previous platforms but also radically departed from those positions, so the committee made the decision to edit those resolutions to be more in line with the platform of the party, which still embraces a two-state solution,” Lachman said.

A drafted resolution that only condemned right-wing anti-Semitism was withdrawn altogether, per Lachman.

David Mandel, a Jewish Voice for Peace activist and state Assembly delegate who co-authored five of the resolutions, told the Journal in a phone interview that the committee’s edits were a “procedural trick” since he and his co-authors were not consulted on four of the resolutions; on the one he was consulted on, they didn’t reach an agreement.

“I think they’re afraid the resolutions… would have overwhelming support of the California Democratic Party delegates,” Mandel said. He also said the committee’s actions “may or may not be kosher according to the bylaws” and that it was “very upsetting for a lot of people.”

However, Lachman argued that the committee rules clearly state that any resolutions submitted to the committee become the property of the committee and that the edited resolutions didn’t need to the delegates’ approval since they were affirmations of the state party’s platform.

“I think people were satisfied with the way it turned out,” Lachman said.

Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party founding member Andrea Beth Damsky said in a statement, “I am so pleased with this powerful repudiation of anti-Zionist activity in the California Democratic Party. The conversation about the conflict takes up far too much time and energy, and we look forward to refocusing our resources into issues of concern for all Democrats — reproductive freedom, climate change, housing, and even perhaps adopting the Equal Rights Amendment!”

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Regional Assistant Director Siamak Kordestani said in a statement to the Journal, “The U.S.-Israel relationship has strong bipartisan support. We are pleased that the California Democratic Party rejected this series of divisive resolutions. These anti-Israel resolutions represent neither the views of the Democratic Party nor the mainstream Jewish community. We look forward to continue working with our Democratic elected officials to ensure that U.S. support for Israel is bipartisan.”