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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Israel-haters target Sacramento

Sacramento, California is considering a sister city program with Ashkelon, Israel.

So, naturally, the haters are inundating the city and its officials with emails claiming that Ashkelon is a uniquely evil city that somehow discriminates against "Palestinian-Sacramentans." You can read their ridiculous (and mostly made-up) arguments here.

As a synagogue in the area puts it:

A Sister City is a cooperative agreement between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties. The purpose of this program is to promote partnership, education and understanding.

Sacramento has been involved in this effort for some time and our city has developed Sister City relations with Manila/Pasay City, Matsuyama, Jinan, Hamilton, Liestal, Chisinau, Yongsan-gu,San Juan de Orient, and Bethlehem.

The Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region has been working on a proposal for Sacramento to form an official Sister City partnership with Ashkelon, Israel.

With commitment from Council Members Steve Cohn and Jay Schenirer, the recent process has been positive and productive, and the Federation will make a presentation to the City Council on August 14th at 6pm to make this project official. The presentation will reinforce the purpose of the Sister City program, which is to promote partnership, education and understanding.

Unfortunately, as often happens with matters related to Israel, those who support the perspective of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) have been circulating troubling letters. Visit here for an example.

We recall the struggle against BDS last year when some BDS proponents unsuccessfully attempted to get themselves elected to the Board of the Sacramento Natural Food Co-Op. The goal of BDS is to isolate and de-legitimize Israel.

The Palestinian American Congress (PAC) and local BDS groups plan to have a significant delegation at the City Council meeting on Aug 14th to negate inviting Ashkelon, Israel as a Sacramento Sister City. We hope to have a strong presence from the Jewish Community. While the intention is to not engage in issues of politics, we must be prepared to have a strong show of support from our leadership and general community.

If you are able to attend the City Council meeting on August 14, at 6pm, please email Melissa Chapman, mchapman@jewishsac.org. This is an important moment for Israel and Sacramento's Jewish Community.

It should be noted that in 2009, Sacramento chose Bethlehem as a sister city - a city where Jews cannot buy land and where Israelis cannot visit, period; a city that is allowing Muslims to intimidate Christians into fleeing. And at that time, the City Council adopted a resolution to establish a sister-city relationship with an Israeli city in the future. The haters aren't quite interested in bringing up that little fact.

Anyway, the haters are organizing email campaigns towards Sacramento officials, so if you want, you can email and call them too:

Mayor Kevin Johnson
email c/o Council Operations Manager, Lisa Serna-Mayorga, serna@cityofsacramento.org
Council Members:
- Vice-Mayor Angelique Ashby, 916-808-7001, aashby@cityofsacramento.org
- Sandy Sheedy, 916-808-7002, ssheedy@cityofsacramento.org
- Steve Cohn, 916-808-7003, scohn@cityofsacramento.org
- Robert Fong, 916-808-7004, rkfong@cityofsacramento.org
- Jay Schenirer, 916-808-7005, jschenirer@cityofsacramento.org
- Kevin McCarty,916-808-7006, KMcCarty@cityofsacramento.org
- Darrell Fong, 916-808-7007, dfong@cityofsacramento.org
- Bonnie J. Pannell, 916-808-7008, bpannell@cityofsacramento.org

And if you live in the area, you may want to attend the City Council meeting on August 14.

More details here.