October 22, 2019

AJC CA Chapters Send Letters to CA Dems Leaders About Arab-American Chair’s ‘Anti-Semitic Tropes’

The American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Northern California and Los Angeles chapters sent letters to California Democratic leaders regarding recent “anti-Semitic tropes” made by the Arab-American Caucus Chair of the California Democratic Party, Iyad Afalqa.

The letters, which were sent to Acting Chair of the California Democratic party Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), pointed out that Afalqa wrote in a March 27 Facebook post that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is a “traitor whose allegiance is for [the] Fascist Israel lobby who called himself the Guardian of Israel in Congress is attacking Rep Omar who hinted at the big elephant in the room: treason of the Fascist Israel lobby that Schumer belongs to.”

They also noted that Afalqa wrote in an October 2017 post asking when the Democratic National Committee would be moving its headquarters to Tel Aviv.

“These posts are part of a broader pattern of incendiary rhetoric by Mr. Afalqa which have cause deep concern among Jewish activists and members of the California Democratic Party,” AJC Northern California Director Rabbi Serena Eisenberg and AJC Los Angeles Acting Chief of Staff Dganit Abramoff wrote. “For centuries, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, foreign allegiance, and having a pernicious influence on their societies and governments. To call Senator Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer a ‘traitor’ and part of a lobby committing ‘treason’ is inflammatory, dangerous, and unbecoming of a California Democratic Party caucus chair.”

They added that criticism of the Israeli government can be done “without appealing to anti-Semitic tropes.”

“Mr. Afalqa’s hurtful comments are antithetical to the values that we believe the California Democratic Party stands for,” Eisenberg and Abramoff concluded the letter. “We look forward to continuing our work with you and the other leaders of the California Democratic Party as we defend our shared values.”

Afalqa, Atkins, Rendon and Gallardo-Rooker did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

The letters can be read below:

CA Dems Party Arab American Caucus Chair Accuses Schumer of Allegiance to ‘Fascist Israel Lobby’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the media ahead of a possible partial government shut down in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Iyad Afalqa, the chairman of the Arab American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, accused Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) of having allegiance to the “fascist Israel lobby.”

On March 27, Afalqa posted a link on his Facebook page to an article titled “Senate Democratic Leader Schumer Compares Ilhan Omar to Trump in AIPAC Speech.” Schumer said during his March 26 speech, “When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out. When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out.”

Afalqa wrote in his post, “Shmuck Schumer the traitor whose allegiance is for Fascist Israel lobby who called himself the Guardian of Israel in Congress is attacking Rep Omar who hinted at the big elephant in the room: treason of the Fascist Israel lobby that Schumer belongs to.”

Afalqa went onto state that the “highest amount” of money from the “pro-Israel lobby” in the 2015-16 election cycle went to Schumer.

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party (PZCDP) said in a statement sent to the Journal via email, “Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party is concerned about the most recent statements made by Iyad Afalqa on his personal Facebook page and in the CADEMs unofficial delegate group. This is unfortunately not the first time he has used such inflammatory rhetoric, and is especially disappointing considering he co-sponsored a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.”

“Utilizing the tropes of dual loyalties, Jewish conspiracy, and power to criticize AIPAC is disturbing in a moment where highly charged rhetoric like this increasingly endangers the Southern California Jewish community — which has experienced many recent anti-Semitic incidents, with perpetrators espousing frighteningly similar rhetoric to Alfalqa’s,” the PZDCP said.

In February, Afalqa shared a link to an Al Jazeera op-ed stating that “Zionism has always been a white supremacist, settler colonialist, anti-democratic, right-wing ideology, which has demanded a loyalty based on nationalist racism” that has “collaborated with anti-Semitic forces towards a mutual goal of global apartheid.”

The PZDCP responded to Afalqa’s sharing of the aforementioned op-ed by writing in a Facebook post at the time, “This is clear and unbridled anti-Semitism found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a famously false and hateful pamphlet alleging international conspiracy by racist, global Zionists. By itself, this trope has been responsible for the deaths of literally millions of Jews. This is the language we see being normalized in the article you shared.”

Additionally, in October 2017, Afalqa asked in Facebook when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would be moving its headquarters “to Tel Aviv”:

Afalqa and the California Democratic Party did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

This article has been updated.