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Two California Cities Call Off Flotilla Votes

JTA Wire Service
June 18, 2010

Two California city bodies called off votes on resolutions condemning Israel for intercepting a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman, who is Jewish, withdrew their proposal Tuesday night from the City Council agenda and referred the proposal to the Human Relations Commission, according to reports. Dozens of people attended the meeting.

The resolution criticizes Israel for intercepting and boarding the ship in international waters, and says Israel’s blockade of Gaza violates human rights. It also supports the United Nations Security Council condemnation of the flotilla clash, which resulted in the deaths of nine passengers, and calls for an independent, thorough, credible and transparent investigation into the incident.

Two residents of Richmond were passengers on the Marmara, the Turkish-owned ship on which the passengers turned violent when Israeli naval commandos boarded on May 31.

After more than four hours of public debate at the Tuesday night meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the board decided not to vote on the resolution, instead sending it to committee.

Earlier Tuesday, each side in the debate held a lunch hour rally outside City Hall, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Police had to separate the demonstrators several times.

The San Francisco resolution condemns the interception of the flotilla and Israel’s blockade of Gaza, saying it “collectively deprives the entire population of Gaza of adequate provisions” and mainly affects children and the elderly. The resolution does acknowledge Israel’s requirement to protect its South from rocket attacks from Gaza.

The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission considered a similar resolution at a meeting June 7, but tabled a decision until its next meeting on July 12. The commission makes recommendations to the Berkeley City Council.

Jerry Brown Apologizes for ‘Goebbels’ Remark

Jerry Brown has apologized for likening his opponent in the race for governor of California to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

Brown, a Democrat, a former governor and currently the state’s attorney general, last week told a journalist that Republican candidate Meg Whitman’s substantial campaign chest made her “like Goebbels,” in that she would be able to saturate media with lies about him. Goebbels is believed to have originated the “big lie” theory of propaganda, purporting that the public will buy an untruth if it is repeated often enough.

A number of Jewish groups, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center said the remark was offensive, given Goebbels’ role not only as a Nazi propagandist but as an architect of the Holocaust.

Brown said Tuesday that he had apologized to the Wiesenthal Center, which confirmed it.

“He regrets any misapprehension that was created by his remarks,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center’s dean, was quoted as saying by California media. “He said he was jogging and he shouldn’t have used it.”

Brown was jogging when he met a reporter and had a casual conversation. Reporting his apology to reporters on Tuesday, he added, “I will tell you this: Jogging in the hills with sweating strangers will no longer result in conversation. Mum’s the word.”
Jewish Groups Brief Congress Offices on Campuses

American Jewish groups briefed congressional staffers on the intimidation of Jewish students on college campuses.

The June 7 briefing, convened by Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Task Force Against Anti-Semitism, drew staffers from about 25 congressional offices, including those of leading lawmakers such as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy Committee; Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.

Jewish groups represented included the Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Committee, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, and the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

Staffers for the Jewish groups described “harassment and intimidation” faced by students, and outlined steps that could be taken toward “legal recourse if their colleges and universities do not rectify the problems,” according to Susan Tuchman, the director of ZOA’s center for Law and Justice.

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