San 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.