Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The San Diego Jewish community celebrates Rosh Hashanah starting tonight at sunset. The holiday marks the Jewish New Year. As leaders in Israel and Palestine renew efforts to end conflict in the Middle East, one local group is calling for a year of peace in San Diego.
SAN DIEGO The San Diego Jewish community celebrates Rosh Hashanah starting Wednesday at sunset. The holiday marks the Jewish New Year. As leaders in Israel and Palestine renew efforts to end conflict in the Middle East, one local group is calling for a year of peace in San Diego.
About 100 people with the newly formed San Diego Israel Coalition rallied on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. They carried signs with messages of peace and blew the Shofar – a traditional Jewish symbol. They said the Shofar is sounded as a wake-up call to Israelis, Palestinians, and the San Diego community to seize the chance for peace.
Audrey Jacobs, co-chair of the San Diego Israel Coalition, said her group formed last spring to respond to growing tensions in the community.
Jacobs said one event that sparked controversy was the “Justice in Palestine Week 2010 – End the Apartheid” event organized by the UCSD Muslim Student Association in May. The students called for a resolution for UCSD to divest itself of all economic ties to companies doing business with Israel.
"The incident that happened at UCSD raised the awareness that San Diego is one of the hotbeds in the country specifically on the campuses for anti-Israel sentiment," Jacobs explained, "and the community here, they were feeling powerless and didn’t have a way to be able to actively express their support for the Jewish state."
Nasser Barghouti, a coordinator for the San Diego Coalition for Justice in Palestine, said his group's mission is to "protest the ongoing Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, to help the Palestinian cause and promote the Palestinian point of view."
Barghouti said the coalition is diverse and includes prominent Jewish community members and a growing number of local college student organizations.
"It’s a growing movement," Barghouti explained. "There’s an awareness developing now about this issue and that action has to be taken, completely non-violent action has to be taken to really try to pressure Israel to abide by international law."
Barghouti said an example of local action includes a boycott and divestment movement against companies that have been documented to support the Israeli occupation.
Barghouti said he’s not hopeful about the Mideast peace talks. He said negotiations won’t succeed because it’s an uneven playing field and the Israelis have more power, money and support.
"On the other hand, the Palestinians have been living in a situation of military occupation in the West Bank and under complete siege -- a concentration camp in the Gaza Strip and under apartheid in Israel itself," Barghouti said.
Members of the San Diego Israel Coalition say they’ll hold on to hope that the new year will bring peace and resolution both here and abroad.
"This is an extraordinary time where we should join together and support this effort internationally and on a local level," said Jacobs.