Students on City College campus
Students at an outdoor class on the San Diego City College campus in August. Image from SDCCU Twitter feed

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County strongly condemns American Federation of Teachers Guild Local 1931’s “Statement Regarding the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” and we do so with the full support of our community partners listed below.

We are dismayed to find that the union representing community college and continuing education faculty and other employees in the San Diego Community College District and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District voted in support of this misguided and simplistic resolution that has caused sadness, fear, and anger as a result of its false claims and incendiary language.

This resolution creates an unsafe atmosphere for Jewish and Israeli students, faculty and staff, and other members of the San Diego and Grossmont community college communities.

Consider how an anxious Jewish student might feel walking into the classroom of a professor who supported this statement. And consider the situation a Jewish junior member of faculty now finds themselves in with a department chair who supported the statement.

In our current climate, in which anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments are, unfortunately, ever more intertwined, simply asserting these words “are not antisemitic” does not eliminate the harm and the risk incurred by publishing this irresponsible statement.

And that risk is all too real — it was only a little over two years ago when a gunman opened fire in a Poway synagogue just up the road, killing and injuring innocent San Diegans, simply because they were Jews.

Hyperbolic and one-sided rhetoric like that found in this statement contains serious mischaracterizations designed solely for political ends. This resolution does not serve a positive purpose, nor does it serve the goals of an educational institution committed to objective historical review and analysis and the honest exchange of ideas.

We affirm the state of Israel’s right to exist and condemn the rhetoric that demonizes Israel as an illegal state and feeds the current and dramatic rise of antisemitism in the United States and around the world. We affirm the right of the Jewish people to determine their own destinies.

We firmly stand against terrorist groups like Hamas that call for the extermination of Israel and the Jewish people. Violence in the Middle East is heartbreaking, and we all want to see it end in a way that respects life and dignity for all.

We strongly support a healthier, more productive and intellectually honest dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict throughout the San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca community college districts and our entire region.

We at Federation, along with our community partners, will continue to work tirelessly to build alliances and develop strong relationships so that messages like this diminish in favor of more inclusive representation and understanding within our educational system.

Heidi Gantwerk is the interim president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County and Jack Maizel is board chair of the organization. Their column is co-signed by the following organizations and individuals.

ADL of San Diego
Tammy Gillies, Regional Director

Aish-Ahavat Yisrael San Diego
Rabbi Mimoun Miller

Beth Eliyahu
Rabbi Daniel Srugo

Camp Mountain Chai
Buddy Voit, Executive Director
David Bark, Board President

Chabad of San Diego
Rabbi Yonah Fradkin

Congregation Adat Yeshurun
Rabbi Daniel Reich

Congregation Beth Am
Rabbi David Kornberg
Rabbi Matthew Earne

Congregation Beth Israel
Rabbi Jason Nevarez
Rabbi/Cantor Arlene Bernstein
Rabbi Jeremy Gimbel
Rabbi Michael Berk, Emeritus

Congregation Beth El
Rabbi Ron Shulman
Rabbi Avi Libman

Congregation Dor Hadash
Rabbi Yael Ridberg

Hadassah West Coast
Deena Feinman, Director

Hillel of San Diego
Karen Parry, Executive Director

Jewish Collective of San Diego
Rabbi Gabi Arad

Jewish Community Foundation
Beth Sirull, President and CEO

Jewish Family Service of San Diego
Michael Hopkins, CEO

Jewish Federation of San Diego
Rabbi Ralph Dalin

Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center
Betzy Lynch, CEO

Jewish National Fund-USA, San Diego Region
Monica Edelman, Director
Debbie Kornberg, President

Ken Jewish Community
Executive Committee

Ner Tamid
Rabbi Sammi Seid

Ohr Shalom
Rabbi Scott Meltzer

San Diego Jewish Academy
Zvi Weiss, Head of School

San Diego Outreach Synagogue
Rabbi/Cantor Cheri Weiss

Seacrest Village Retirement Communities
Pam Ferris, President and CEO

Temple Adat Shalom
Rabbi David Castiglione

Temple Emanu-El
Rabbi Devorah Marcus
Rabbi Benj Fried
Rabbi Marty Lawson, Emeritus

Temple Solel
Rabbi Alexis Berk
Rabbi David Frank, Emeritus

Tifereth Israel Synagogue
Rabbi Josh Dorsch

Rabbi Richard Agler
Rabbi Aliza Berk
Rabbi Lenore Bohm
Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D.
Rabbi Wayne Dosick
Rabbi Susan Freeman
Rabbi Phil Graubart
Rabbi Leah Herz
Rabbi Ally Jacobson
Rabbi Ben Leinow
Rabbi Jonathan Stein
Rabbi Simcha Weiser