Matthew Finkelstein and Susan George of Progressive Zionists of California at the California Democratic party executive board meeting in San Jose, Aug. 24 (Photo/Courtesy PZC)
Matthew Finkelstein and Susan George of Progressive Zionists of California at the California Democratic party executive board meeting in San Jose, Aug. 24 (Photo/Courtesy PZC)

State Dems pass three pro-Israel resolutions

Pro-Israel Democrats found something to cheer about after the California Democratic Party’s executive board passed resolutions over the weekend condemning anti-Semitism and decrying anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism.

The three-day meeting brought hundreds of state party activists, delegates and politicians to the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose on Aug. 23-25. Among the attendees were members of Progressive Zionists of California, an organization that routinely attends party gatherings to fight what they consider anti-Israel resolutions.

This time, the group put forth a resolution of its own, one that “sailed through,” according to PZC co-founder Susan George.

“It was a direct pushback on what oftentimes boils down to very demeaning and harmful language that can occur, particularly from BDS advocates,” she told J.

The resolution, which passed Sunday unanimously, articulates “how anti-Semitic hate speech harms Jews and other Zionists in the California Democratic Party.” It defines Zionism as “the human right to self-determination of the Jewish people in their homeland of Israel,” and notes that anti-Semitic hate speech has been “regularly employed by anti-Israel activists both inside and outside the [party] using demeaning and degrading language about Jews and supporters of Israel.”

Among other points, the resolution condemns statements that “dehumanize or employ stereotypes about Jews, such as that Jews control or wield unusual power over the economy, government or media” as well as assertions that “Jews do not have a right to self-determination or protections from discrimination accorded to others.”

The Progressive Zionists group also applauded passage of a separate resolution, initiated by Democrats for Israel (Los Angeles) and Andrew Lachman, that offered support for “diverse voices targeted by the Trump Administration,” including Jews, and which cites ADL statistics that note “anti-Semitic hate crimes increased 70% in 2017 and 37% in the first half of 2018.”

A third resolution that was approved defines anti-Semitism using criteria created by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (the United States is a member). Among the criteria: denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor, and applying double standards to Israel by requiring behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

All three resolutions passed on Aug. 25.

The weekend’s results mirrored a similar outcome at the California Democratic Party State Convention held in San Francisco in June. At that time, multiple proposed resolutions deemed hostile to Israel by PZC members and others were rejected by the Resolutions Committee and on the floor of the convention.

Not everything in San Jose this past weekend went as PZC members would have liked. The party’s Legislative Committee voted to endorse H.R. 2407, a bill sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), which promotes “the human rights of Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation and [requires] that United States funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

The objections to the bill stem from the contention that such action “imperils a two-state solution by connecting U.S. military funding to Israeli security practices regarding the detention of minors,” according to a PZC press release, and for “presenting a one-sided and dishonest picture of Israel’s security issues.”

Overall, however, pro-Israel party activists were happy with the weekend’s outcome.

“Overall we did very well,” said Andrew Lachman, a Los Angeles-based member of the Resolutions Committee. “We’re very pleased with the way things turned out. It was all of us coming together.”

Added PZC co-founder George: “The [anti-Semitism] resolution that was passed is something we consider groundbreaking, because that type of language was never used in a resolution before.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is J.'s news editor. He can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.