County Democratic Party Split on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

A coalition of progressive Democrats recently succeeded in convincing their local party central committee to release a statement condemning Israel—despite steadfast support for the state and its sovereignty among top Democrats nationwide.

What would go on to become weeks of coverage around the deadly clashes between the State of Israel and Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., exploded onto Twitter May 7.

Influential Democrats shared live streamed videos, photos and reporting of Palestinian casualties and missile strikes to their millions of young online followers—many of whom shared viral tweets of their own. The momentum they rallied in opposition of Israel inspired local mutual aid organizations to organize a week of protests all over San Jose in solidarity with Palestinians calling for an end to Zionism.

After watching the scenes of violence play out more than 7,400 miles west in San Jose, California Democratic Party assembly delegates Basil Saleh and Hiwad Haider said they felt compelled to press Santa Clara County Democrats to condemn Israel.

“You’re getting footage on the ground showing us the human cost,” Saleh said. “It’s impossible to turn your vision away from that.”

They don’t get to author legislation, but delegates can still influence party politics by pressing local Democrats to take a public position on any given issue.

Barely passing by three votes at the July 1 Santa Clara County Democratic Party Central Committee meeting, Haider was able to lobby the majority of the committee’s 50 voting members into signing off on his resolution. It was also co-signed by more than 10 other local community leaders and pro-Palestine activists.

The one-page declaration accused Israel of breaking international law for firing missiles into the Gaza Strip, and called for the passing of Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s (D-MN) bill in Congress—for which Haider’s resolution was modeled after.

But University of California, Berkeley political science professor Ron Hassner said he hasn’t seen any evidence to suggest the Democratic party as a whole has become any less supportive of Israel. The UC’s first chair in Israel Studies, Hassner described the state as, “our closest ally in the Middle East.”

“There's nothing coming out of Congress, nor any official position of the Democratic Party to suggest any change in policy. There's also not a particular reason to expect a change in policy,” he told San Jose Inside. “Because what happened in Gaza two months ago is now happening for the fourth time, it's not a new thing.”

Many iterations of McCollum's bill have been introduced over the years, though never passed.

“It's certainly odd the Santa Clara County Democratic Party Central Committee chose to speak so loudly in criticism of the only liberal and democratic state in that region, yet remain so silent in condemning the actions of Hamas,” Hassner said.

Susan George, executive director of Progressive Zionists of California, said no iteration of the legislation has ever gathered more than two or three dozen supporters out of the more than 200 Democrats in the House.

“If we're going to talk about ending the conflict—the need for safety, security and dignity on both sides of this conflict—then we need to come together and address it in a way that isn't just about demonizing one side and holding the other side completely unaccountable,” George said.

She believes Zionists should not be expelled from conversations in the Democratic party over Israel, and Israel has the right to exist and Jewish citizens of the state have the right to defend itself against Hamas.

According to a Gallup Poll published March 19, 53% of surveyed Democratic say the U.S. should put more pressure on Israel to resolve its conflict with Palestine, compared to 43% in 2018.

The Supreme Court of Israel’s anticipated decision to affirm the eviction of five Palestinian families from Israeli-occupied land in East Jerusalem sparked the recent violent conflict between Palestinians and the Israeli government.

Hamas retaliated against the looming evictions, and the Israeli government’s failure to withdraw its security forces from holy sites, by lobbing missiles into Israel—most stopped by the state’s air defense system dubbed the “Iron Dome.” The state hit back with missiles of its own.

The back-and-forth ended in a ceasefire on May 16 with 256 Palestinians dead in the Gaza Strip, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office, 128 of whom were believed to be civilians. At least 9 Israeli civilians, along with two Thai workers and an Indian caregiver were also killed, according to The Times of Israel.

Though divided, Haider said having the support of the committee’s majority proves the county Democrats have an agreement about what the facts are surrounding the conflict between Palestine and Israel.

“(The vote) goes to show that our work is not done,” Haider said. “Resolutions are a nice accomplishment to make a strong statement and influence legislators—our plan is to use this document as proof that we do have an agreement about the objective reality of Israel and Palestine.”

As a second generation Afghan American, the young progressive said growing up post-9/11 he saw similarities between U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Israeli occupation of Palestinian settlements.

Day-after-day of violence continuing to play out in the Middle East pushed Haider and Saleh to the streets of San Jose where they joined protesters and spoke at pro-Palestinian demonstrations—rallying hundreds of peers into denouncing Israel and recognizing injustices in Palestine.

As more anti-Zionist activists join the party, support for the dissolution of the State of Israel continues to surface in foreign policy discussions.

Disputes broke out at the July 1 committee meeting over the accuracy of the objective reality described in the since-passed resolution Hiwad put forth; Democrats opposing the declaration argued it was inflammatory and went against the party's majority stance.

“I say this as a committed Democrat who spent over 35 years working for Democratic candidates all across California and around the country—this resolution is honestly chock full of inaccuracies and one sided propaganda,” said Marc Mellmen, president and CEO of Democratic Majority For Israel.

The pro-Israel advocacy group, formed in 2019, rails against boycotts and sanctions of Israel, and supports a two-state solution where Palestine and Israel exist in peace as two separate states.

Mellman said that only a minority of Democrats on the national stage support distancing themselves from Israel and cutting foreign aid to the state, information omitted from Haider’s resolution misled party members in Santa Clara County who voted in favor of it.

“It talks about children being killed, and others being killed in this conflict with Hamas as if it was Israel's responsibility. The reality is, if Hamas had not decided to fire 4,600 rockets into Israel, every one of those people would still be alive today,” Mellmen said. “Hamas bears responsibility.”

Hiwad and Saleh pointed to the large disparity of deaths between Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

“By the time we had these resolutions ready to present, 250 plus civilians (were killed), 67 of which were children,” Saleh said. “So this was just a gross, gross violation of human rights, and we really felt the need to speak out.”

Though senior members of the Democratic party say the violence in Israel and Palestine is not as divisive of a topic on a national level, Haider said human rights violations perpetrated by Israel should be addressed at the highest levels.

“All types of advocates from across the political spectrum, the Democratic party, they're all saying, ‘(We) need to have a referendum on how we approach this issue,’” Haider said. “We need to bring more Palestinian voices into the party, Jewish voices in the party who are going to be part of the future dialogue for peace, and build a model for other anti-war, anti-militarism and pro-human rights activists.”


  1. Haider’s comment:
    “(The vote) goes to show that our work is not done,” Haider said.”,
    clearly indicates that the progressives are just getting started on their quest to destroy Israel. Notice the word “dissolution” in the quote below.

    “As more anti-Zionist activists join the party, support for the dissolution of the State of Israel continues to surface in foreign policy discussions.”

    These “progressives” support a Jew hating, genocidal, mass murdering organization, Hamas. Hamas wants to eliminate the entire Jewish population from Israel— read their charter!

    The progressives hide behind the artful term, “anti-Zionist.” They are anti-Semites. They hate Jews. What is truly sad is that many secular and liberal Jews have become useful idiots and parrot the slander against Israel.

    If Hamas laid down its weapons today, there would be peace and a path to resolution. If Israel laid down its weapons, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the rest of the Jew haters would kill every Jew.

    Any Jew who remains a Democratic in Santa Clara County (actually anywhere) is a fool and a useful idiot.

  2. Far left are supporters of #Hamas #Iran #Cuba terrorists regimes. I am a Centrist Democrat #IStandWithIsrael The far left are NOT DEMOCRATS but communists and dictatorship apologists!

  3. Palestine did not exist in Jesus Christ Roman Empire times. Those supporting the claim that Jews are occupants of their indigenous land are similar to those that will dare to deny Native Americans being the indigenous people of United States of America. This is the agenda of the far left “regressives” to support Hamas, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and other dictatorship and communist states. Their other agenda is to decriminalize violence against women. Ro Khanna has been the most strongest supporter of Iran terrorist regime. This while the people in Iran are fighting against this dictatorship state. These far progressives are a minority of the Democratic Party and should create their own communist party. Israel belongs to the Jews. Jesus is a Jew not a Palestinian. You can attempt to distort history, but you can’t change it! I am a centrist democrat #IStandWithIsrael

  4. Another important point to make is the fact that Hamas is the one who always starts these attacks.. Then it plays victim by showing the harm caused by the conflict they started. Every person and nation has the right to self-defense. What it unites these far left regressives and Hamas are their religion extremism, hate for the Jews, and hate for the United States. They not only want to rob the Jews’ land but also their their historical and religious ancestry. I am a Centrist Democrat #IStandWithIsrael

  5. Another important point to make is the fact that Hamas is the one who always starts these attacks.. Then it plays victim by showing the harm caused by the conflict they started. Every person and nation has the right to self-defense. What it unites these far left regressives and Hamas are their religion extremism, hate for the Jews, and hate for the United States. They not only want to rob the Jews’ land but also their their historical and religious ancestry. I am a Centrist Democrat #IStandWithIsrael

  6. It appears San José Inside not allowing this other comment to post by labeling a duplicate. This is the comment. Those labeling the Jews occupants of their God’s given indigenous land are similar to those that will clam Native Americans are not the indigenous of the United States of America. Palestine did not exist in Jesus’s Roman Empire times and is no older than my 92 year old father. These extremist religious people want to rob the Jews from their historical and religious ancestry. These are also the same people supporting terrorist and communist regimes such as Iran, Cuba, Venezuela. They are also the same people creating laws in California to decriminalize violence. I am a centrist democrat and I stand with Israel and the United States not terror group hamas. Don’t forget the darling of these far progressives is top antisemite and US hater Ilhan Omar. Santa Clara County residents will not tolerate violence against Jews or anyone, do keep that in mind far left regressives. In the United States freedom of religion is a right to all not just to you!

  7. San José Inside, Please share the names of the 50 who voted to support Hamas. The names and faces should be visual to all.

  8. Thank you Ana G Villarreal for saving Israel with your cohesive and non-unhinged comment section dissertation.

  9. How degenerate are the Cal Dems, let us count the ways…if we can reach the end, that is.

    It’s like Black Lives Matter siding with the government of Cuba and blaming the United States for unrest there. Good, ol’ AOC performed “well” again, herself, with the topic, too.

    It’s also like one of many publications corrupted and infected by liberal politics today, Scientific American, with one of its numerous leftist articles eventually getting removed, it was that bad — saying the public health community (rife with leftism) should join that “cause.”

    Degenerates and manifestations of today’s pathological Left

  10. Plenty of Dems are infected by the worst even though others are (at least relatively, some absolutely) safer and saner.

  11. Not Suckered, the far left actually blamed the US for the conflict in Cuban while Cubans in the Island just want freedom from communist regime. These far left are also want Biden to lift sanctions on Iran. This while Iranians are being killed for protesting the Iranian regime. Again these far left people are supporters and apologists of dictatorship and communist regimes and against the people oppressed by those regimes. Seeing Hamas as a victim of the conflicts it creates is insane.

  12. Andres Quintero and Evan low are the most conservative Democrats. They want to portray they are progressive but both called this divisive. Never will support those to sellouts!

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