Friday, August 10, 2012

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin didn't know his city was a den of apartheid policies until the good people of Sacramento told him so.

From an article in the Jewish press by Lori Lowenthal Marcus

While the Israeli city of Ashkelon has been physically assaulted by rockets and bombs hurled by Israel’s haters in Gaza, haters abroad are doing their best to assault Ashkelon in other ways.

There is a battle now taking place to prevent the city of Sacramento, California, from becoming a sister-city to Ashkelon, Israel. The battle is being waged on the internet and phone lines, in the lead-up to a Sacramento City Council meeting on the topic which will take place on August 14.

Radical anti-Israel activists are distributing hate literature portraying Arabs who live in Ashkelon as second-class citizens “without the same rights, benefits or access to land as Jewish Israelis.”

Barry Broad was the chair of the Sacramento Jewish Community Relations Council in 2009 when Bethlehem became a sister City to Sacramento, in an initiative supported by the Jewish Community in hopes of creating broader outreach and multi-cultural understanding. When the Sacramento City council approved the Bethlehem initiative, they also made a commitment that they would establish a sister-city relationship with a town in Israel. The meeting on Tuesday August 14 will determine if the Sacramento intends on honoring this earlier commitment.

The article continues:

Broad says he isn’t trying to have a battle over the Arab-Israeli conflict, “they have enough of that over there.” The concept of establishing sister-cities is to “reach out to other people, to create people to people contact,” and Broad believes that will happen between people in Sacramento and the people in Ashkelon. He is far less hopeful that the pro-Palestinian activists want anything like that with the pro-Israel groups even within Sacramento.

“I was in the room when leaders of the Bethlehem Initiative, some of whom are also in the vanguard of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions groups, pledged in front of several City Council members that they would engage in dialogue and open communications with the Sacramento Jewish community,” recalled Broad. “They have refused.”

What can you do to help? Start by signing this petition
And please consider coming to the City Council meeting, Tuesday Aug 14, in Sacramento.

This is more than a local issue- this is about the continued demonization of Israel in the public sphere. Its incumbent upon all of us to fight back.

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