A Letter to the Culver City City Council – Jewish Journal

Posted By on June 16, 2021

Re: June 14 Council meeting; item A-1, exclusionary resolution 2021-R

Dear Members of the Culver City City Council,

Please read my remarks into the record, which Im writing as an individual member of the Council of the City of Beverly Hills, one of the only Jewish-majority cities outside of Israel, and a city which itself has a past history of exclusion and restrictive covenants towards Blacks, Jews and other groups.

Jew-hatred is a form of racism. Jew-hatred, also sometimes pseudo-scientifically called antisemitism, is likely the oldest, most atavistic and most pathological form of racism, not unlike a virus which has been constantly mutating for over two millennia.

While undoubtedly well-intentioned, item A-1, the proposed resolution 2021-R acknowledging the racial history of Culver City unfortunately excludes any history of racism towards Jews, who are not even mentioned in the draft resolution by name.

Talking about exclusionary covenants and systemic racism towards people of non-Christian religious faiths is a kind of whitewashing and, quite frankly, a trivialization of the institutional and systemic antisemitism which has impacted Jews for centuries in this country and for millennia in this world. Covenants did not specifically exclude Muslims or Hindus or Shintoists or people of any other non-Christian religious faith; they specifically excluded Jews. The KKK, which, as the resolution discussed, operated with impunity in Culver City, echoed (and still echoes) Nazi hatred towards Jews, not towards all people of non-Christian religious faiths and reserved (and still reserves) some of its worst venom for Jews.

Of all the groups they could have chosen to call out, white supremacists routinely chant Jews will not replace us. They dont chant people of non-Christian religious faiths wont replace us. Even today the KKK and other white supremacist groups use Israel as an excuse to unleash their Jew-hatred.

Furthermore, lumping Jews in with people of non-Christian religious backgrounds not only erases Jewish history, it also ignores the fact that Jews are not just members of a religious faith, but are a People, connected by their common history, group memory, shared aspirations and DNA. Some Jews are not religious at all.

By ignoring the impact of policies of exclusion towards Jews, the resolution latently denies Jews our Peoplehood and trivializes our unique history of persecution and persistence, ongoing for millennia. Such a trivialization could itself easily be seen as discriminatory and bigoted towards Jews, perpetuating the virus of antisemitism, which mutates into any number of forms of hatred, denial, erasure, and apathy.

How effective can a truth and reconciliation process really be that attempts to ignore, rewrite and literally whitewash a part of history?

Attempts to paint Jews as white ignore Jewish history and trivialize the unique Jewish experience of suffering and survival. As mentioned, white supremacists clearly dont consider Jews white, while antisemites on the other side often paint Jews as colonizers and beneficiaries of white privilege. Again, the virus of Jew-hatred has mutated in ways that demonize Jews while attempting to define them, with outside groups denying Jews their Peoplehood and sacred right of self-definition.

Perhaps its time that we started speaking seriously of Gentile privilege, in addition to other forms of privilege. Because the fact remains that Jews Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews are all linked by DNA to each other and to the Middle East, and if other Middle Easterners are to be considered people of color, so must Jews, who are native to the Middle East and whose indigenous status is often called into question in continual antisemitic microaggressions and outright anti-Jewish attacks.

Culver City is not only a city with a history of cross burnings on the front lawns of the homes of Jewish residents, its also a city where just last month, in May of 2021, a street advertisement was vandalized with a swastika and the words, Jews fund BLM.

A swastika. The symbol of fascism and Nazi crimes against the Jewish People and humanity. A reference to BLM, a leftwing group which itself has engaged in antisemitic and dehumanizing rhetoric towards Jews. The mutating virus of Jew-hatred for which there is no Pfizer, Moderna or J&J vaccine so concisely captured in one jarring instance of vandalism in Culver City less than a month ago.

In a time in which anti-Jewish hate crimes and violence are once again spiking worldwide, in addition to correcting this exclusionary resolution meant to acknowledge the racial history of Culver City, which has been unceremoniously whitewashed and scrubbed of antisemitism, it would make sense for the Culver City City Council also to enact a resolution adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as Beverly Hills did last year when I was mayor.

We would be happy to assist you in taking this important measure against ongoing Jew-hatred, along with helping you craft a resolution in condemnation of anti-Jewish racism. Thank you for your efforts to come to a reckoning with racism in Culver City and I hope you are able to fix the elements of that reckoning which erase the lived experience of your Jewish neighbors.

Sincerely,John MirischBeverly Hills City Council

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