Gavin Newsom is headed for Israel

newsom.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is headed to Israel this week as part of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation‘s business delegation, looking to drum up ties in high-tech, biotech and green technology.

Newsom is scheduled to take part in a full-day clean-tech showcase on Israel’s industrial approach to alternative energy and bio-fuels. He’ll be the first San Francisco Mayor to visit San Francisco’s city’s sister city, Haifa, and he’ll meet with Haifa Mayor Yonah Yahav as well as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. He also expects to pay his respects at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, and at a memorial marking the site of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in Tel Aviv. And he’ll visit Umm el-Fahm, an Arab-Israeli town that is one of the sites for Echad – a Jewish Community Federation-funded program focused on early childhood education in the Arab-Israeli community.

And will this trip generate controversy? Hey, what do you think?

Barbara Lubin, head of the Berkeley-based Middle East Children’s Alliance, told KCBS radio it’s a cop-out for Newsom to go to Israel and not address its policies. ”People really don’t want to get into the real issues of Israel, because of course people don’t want to be called anti-Semitic. But it is really no more anti-Semitic to criticize the actions of Israel, than it is anti-American to criticize the actions of our government,” she said.

The planning committee which set up this trip is co-chaired by Cytokinetics Inc. President and CEO Robert Blum and Traiana Inc. Chairman Bobby Lent; joining them will almost 100 more senior-level executives and local Jewish philanthropists including Yitz Applbaum, economic advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the founder and general partner of Opus Capital. Also on the trip: Hillsborough City Councilman and JCF Vice President Thomas Kasten; Geolo Capital founder and JCF president John Pritzker; and Daniel Sokatch, the JCF’s incoming CEO and former executive director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • ingrid

    Lubin is right. Newsom won’t address the occupation and murder of innocent civilians because it’s political suicide. Hell, Obama just launched a blog in Hebrew.

    More than 400 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the last five months, most of them civilians.

  • James

    I respect Newsom for going on this trip. Criticizing Israeli policies is one thing, but the constant apologies for terror attacks on Israeli civilians, and the questioning of Israel’s right to exist is quite another. I believe “anti-Zionism” is a thin veil for anti-Semitism. Zionism is the belief that Jews are entitled to self-determination and autonomy in their historic homeland. That is just a form of nationalism…would anyone EVER say they are “anti-Mexican nationalism”? Denying Israel’s right to exist will not advance the peace process, only serves to perpetuate the violence and fails to address legitimate Palestinian grievances.

  • Edward

    Gavin Newsom is an insignificant politician who is being groomed for bigger things because he is easy to manage and has lots of personal weaknesses that are easy to exploit by the Jewish Lobby.

    Israel is not the USA and it is ANTI-American to criticize Americans who speak out against a Foreign Country or its policies.

    As for Antisemitism or Anti-Zionism, those words no longer carry any weight with educated people, just like the N-Word has lost its meaning beyond pointing out that you have a small vocabulary or are an empowered Black person exerting your ability to utter it free from all responsibility.

    Thanks are in order for Whoopi Goldberg (AKA Caryn Johnson) whose N-Word tirade on the View last week exemplifies the kind of tolerance that is the hallmark of good Jewish Zionist behavior.

    When all of the Middle Eastern countries finally obtain nuclear power and a solid nuclear defense, the sliver of a country previously known as Palestine will no longer be able to influence Global politics.

    Until then we will continue to watch the mockery of U.S. politicians like Gavin as they genuflect to a foreign power on behalf of a small but influential group of Zionists who put Israel above all and don’t care about the United States of America (Hey Gavin isn’t that Our Country?)