Saturday, July 28, 2012

Will Ashkelon be Sacramento's newest Sister City?

Sacramento is considering adding Ashkelon to its sister city program.
Ashkelon is more than just beautiful beaches. Its a ancient city with a richly diverse heritage.

From the Jewish Virtual library:

Ashkelon is built upon the ruins of past civilizations. This was one of five Philistine city-states (along with Gath, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod). The city also plays a role in biblical history as the place where Delilah cut Samson's hair to sap his strength (Judges XIV-XVI). Ashkelon was also a great trading center because it lay along the Via Maris, the route linking Egypt with Syria and Mesopotamia.

The city was first settled at the end of the third millennium B.C.E. It was conquered by the Philistines in the second half of the 12th century. After the Israelite conquest of the rest of the area, the two peoples engaged in several hundred years of conflict. After King Saul was slain by the Philistines, David lamented:

Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. (II Samuel 1:20)

Even after David defeated the Philistines in much of the rest of the country, he could not dislodge them from Ashkelon. This was finally accomplished by the Assyrian conqueror Tiglath-Pileser III in 734 B.C.E. After roughly 600 years in the region, the Philistines disappeared forever.

The city passed through the hands of the region's subsequent invaders before enjoying a renaissance under the Greeks and Romans. After the Jews, under the leadership of the Maccabeans, overthrew the Greeks in the 2nd century, Ashkelon became an autonomous city. It is believed that Ashkelon was the birthplace of Herod (in 37 B.C.E.), who enlarged and beautified the city, constructing a summer house, palaces and an aqueduct. Under the Romans, Ashkelon was also granted the rare privilege of being exempt from taxes. It became a flourishing trade center and, in particular, a major wine producer.

The city became a Christian city in the Byzantine period and was captured by the Muslims in 638 C.E. The Crusaders came next in 1153, but were defeated by Saladin. Richard the Lion Heart led the Crusaders back, but they were eventually driven out in 1280 by Sultan Baybars. The city was then abandoned until 1948 when the Jews of the new State of Israel began to rebuild it. Ashkelon was reestablished as an Israeli city in 1953

Why would anyone object to adding Ashkelon to the growing family of Sacramento's Sister cities, which include Manila, San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, Liestal, Switzerland and Hamilton, New Zealand?

Mr. Binder Clips said it best.

"Its the Jews, stupid"

The same "its the occupation" cru that protests regularly at Costco and Bed Bath and Beyond for daring to sell Soda Stream and Ahava found themselves in a quandary here. Ashkelon isn't "occupied"- its well within the green line. How could they distort history and manipulate truth to accommodate their "I hate anything Israeli" goals?

They couldn't. Easy enough. So they just invented a new name to provide cover.

And what are the stated objections of this newly formed group, consisting of the exact same members of all the local "I hate Israel" groups?

Their "logic" approaches world salad. From their website (Sorry, I don't link to hate sites)

Ashkelon discriminates against its own citizens and against Sacramentans on the basis of religion, ethnicity, and national origin.

I've been to Ashkelon. I fondly remember the glorious beaches, the caves at Bet Guvrin and the breakfast buffet at the Dan hotel. (who knew halvah came in so many varieties?) At no point was my Californian heritage or religion, ethnicity or national origin ever questioned.

Whats really going on in Ashkelon:
From Der Spiegel

When a Palestinian woman gave birth to twins in an Ashkelon hospital she experiences what it is like to be the target of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Best line from the article (but please read it in its entirety):

Dr. Shmuel Zangen, the director of the hospital's neonatal unit, doesn't care who he treats. "As a doctor, I enjoy the privilege of not having to think about it," he says. "It certainly is odd that we take care of Palestinian children while they shoot at us. It's the sort of thing that only happens in the Middle East."

What can you do? Drop a line to the Sacramento mayor and city Council members. Tell them you support having Ashkelon as a sister city to Sacramento.,,,,,,,,,

Please plan on attending the August 14, 2012, 6pm City Council meeting when the Ashkelon proposal is scheduled to be heard.


Anonymous said...

Huwaida Arraf sent out an email blast urging people to sign a petition and take action:

"Please see below for small actions you can take to help make sure that Sacramento, California doesn't become a Sister City with the Israeli city of Ashkelon, a city built on the ruins of the Palestinian town of Majdal Asqalan that was home to generations of Palestinian families until they were ethnically cleansed in 1948, and a city that still today practices gross discrimination against people based on race and ethnicity. "

Huwaida's one of the founders of the ISM, so she's got lots of credibility.

So, Huwaida- what evidence do you have of Ashkelon discriminating against people?

Anonymous said...

Actually Huwaida is Israeli (a Christian) so she is quite intimate in terms of understanding the discrimination of the non-Jewish population.

She also spent time in Ashekelon prison and was beaten there. She has a lot of "street cred" on this.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friend of Israel,

Israel needs your help now, and time is of the essence.
Please take a few seconds to sign this petition.


This coming Tuesday, August 14, the Sacramento City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to include Ashkelon in its sister city program. When the City Council voted in 2009 for Bethlehem to be a sister city, it also passed a resolution that an Israeli city would be selected at a later time. This is that time.

But anti-Israel activists of the boycott campaign have been flooding the City Council with letters opposing Ashkelon`s inclusion in the program. Their letters distort facts, and they defame and delegitimize Israel in order to pressure City Council members to reject Ashkelon as a choice.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION and forward this alert to everyone on your e-mail list.
It will take you less than a minute to show your support for Israel.

Thank you in advance for your help,

Roz Rothstein, CEO