San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin has demanded a personal apology from Mayor Ed Lee for a text the mayor sent to his top staff people comparing Peskin to the Gestapo.
In a private group text, San Francisco’s mayor used the word “gestapo” to describe legislation backed by Peskin, who is Jewish, which would allow the option of putting witnesses under oath when they testify before the board’s Government and Audit Oversight Committee. The legislation had failed earlier in the week by a vote of 7 to 4.
“As a Jewish American, it has been heart wrenching to watch the direction that our country is headed,” Peskin wrote in a letter to the mayor on Feb. 18, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “History has taught us what careless and hateful comments can engender, particularly in the halls of power.”
“When things like this happen, you have to say it like it is. When the mayor is talking about a Jewish-American person and using Nazi terms, it chills me to my core,” the letter continued. Peskin added: “I must ask that you make a public apology to me and the Jewish community.”
Mayoral press secretary Deirdre Hussey said in a statement that the word Lee intended to use was “McCarthyesque,” and said that the use of the word Gestapo was indicative of the mayor’s fear that the legislation requiring an oath could be used to “intimidate, harass and bully” members of the public, the Chronicle reported.
The statement also said, according to NBC Bay Area, that, “Mayor Lee apologizes for inappropriately and insensitively using the word Gestapo to describe Supervisor Peskin’s failed legislation.” Lee has reached out to the Bay Area Jewish community to apologize for the use of the word, according to the statement.
Peskin told NBC that he has not yet received a personal apology from Lee, though he has tried to reach him by phone, text, email and letter.