ALAMEDA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
June 7, 2012 | Members of the Palestinian community were set to celebrate their heritage with the first-ever proclamation of their culture by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Tuesday until the board pulled the agenda item at the last moment.
“I’m disgusted that hate-mongers have forced you to pull the proclamation,” said Darlene Wallach of San Jose. “You should be ashamed to be pressured to do this.”
The board’s awards and proclamations section of each meeting is usually reserved for heartfelt thanks and camaraderie, but this was not the case on day where the conflicts between two biblical rivals mirrored a stalemate later in the afternoon with the board’s inability to appoint a new supervisor.
Supervisor Wilma Chan placed the proclamation on the Tuesday’s agenda (Read .pdf here) and was surprised by the uproar by some in the Jewish community over the seemingly perfunctory county declaration. “This was not meant to be a political statement,” said Chan, who later said she was disappointed by the chain of events that put a damper on the Palestinian communities day. The offices of Reps. Barbara Lee and Pete Stark also bestowed proclamations on the group later in the day.
Supervisor Nate Miley said the reason for pulling the item from Tuesday’s agenda was a board policy against weighing in on international politics and issues which have no connection to the county’s jurisdiction over the matter. Any supervisor can pull an agenda item, according to the board policy. “This was not from any pressure from any group,” Miley said of the decision to retract the proclamation. The explanation was met with a chorus of boos and catcalls from many in the board chambers.
Jewish American groups on numerous community chat and blog sites said the proclamation unduly excluded Jews. Robin Dubner, attorney who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said, “Jews are not called Palestinians. You are trying to negate Jewish history by negating we are distinct cultures.” She later added the resolution “erases Jewish history” and the founding of the state of Israel.”
The one-page proclamation does not mention the Jews or Israel, nor does it reference Palestinians desires for self-determination. “Whereas, Palestinians have embraced for over 2,000 years core values such as love of family, commitment to education, hospitality, and reverence for land, community empowerment, strong sense of justice and they now share these values with the residents of Alameda County,” said a portion of the proclamation.
One speaker said the board’s actions were “disgusting and insulting” and charged a similar effort would never happen to any other ethnic community. Another speaker who charged the board with treating the 20,000 Palestinians living in Alameda County unfairly asked, “Are you saying the Palestinians do not exist?”