San Diego Democrats to vote on anti-Semitism

San Diego Jewish World

Matthew Finkelstein


SAN DIEGO — I knew some in the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee were on a mission to make it impossible for Jews to be openly Zionist, but it wasn’t until I saw for myself that I understood how truly dire the situation has become. As a guest speaking in favor of Resolution E “Clarifying How Anti-Semitic Hate Speech Harms Jews and Other Zionists in the San Diego County Democratic Party,” [1] I witnessed rank antisemitism, harassment, and magical thinking about the conflict.

This resolution was submitted by Andrea Beth Damsky, Vice President of Political Action for San Diego Democrats for Peace in the Middle East. I expected a deluge of antisemitic rhetoric at the meeting I attended, but nothing prepared me for what I encountered. When the public comment for or against Resolution E commenced, a significant number of speakers openly advocated for changing the definition of antisemitism to one that included all semitic peoples, including Palestinians. In my testimony [2] I explained about the history of antisemitism and its roots; that by design it is a form of hatred that explicitly centers Jews.

Another speaker, a young student, said that the entire reason that Zionists wanted to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism was to shut down any criticism of Israel. Resolution E clearly states, “…everyone agrees that criticism of Israel, including its leadership, policies and actions, is not anti-Semitic, but asserting that the Jewish state be targeted as an illegitimate, uniquely evil, and racist entity…goes well beyond the boundary of critique and qualifies as anti-Semitic hate speech which targets Jews individually and the Jewish people as a collective.”

We heard from another speaker that all Zionists are racists. While often critical of Israel’s policies, American Jews overwhelmingly support the existence of a Jewish state . But according to this speaker the majority of Jews—be they White, Black, or Brown—are racists. Matt Corrales, an elected Assembly District 75 delegate, stated on his Facebook page “Israel has no right to exist” “Zionism is racism” “The state of Israel is a terrorist organization….” along with a litany of other derogatory and denigrating statements about Zionists and Israel. He may be one of the loudest in San Diego, but his perspective is far from being marginal.

Harassment outside this meeting has become so prevalent that even the most progressive Jewish Central Committee members in San Diego are afraid to speak out. If a Jewish member supports the platforms of both the state [3] and national [4] Democratic parties—for the self-determination, dignity, and security of the Palestinian and the Israeli people each in their own viable state—they are hounded and verbally attacked by outspoken anti-Israel activists. Among other things, they’re called racist and apartheid apologists — with little to no recourse within the party.

I hope this reveals the pain that Jews often experience when Democratic Party members begin to normalize this kind of language. This is why it is so important that the San Diego Democratic Central Committee pass Resolution E. It’s crucial that there be no place within the Democratic Party where it is acceptable to malign and intimidate Jews because of their connection to Israel.

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