SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento’s sister city squabble may get heated in a couple days when city leaders decide whether to become sister cities with a town in Israel.
Philadelphia may be known as the city of brotherly love; but now the city of Sacramento wants to form a sisterly bond with an Israeli city, but opponents and supporters say they plan to pack city council chambers next week.
“Sister City programs are a good thing. I’m in favor of them,” said David Mandel, Jewish Voice For Peace.
But Mandel, an American-born Jew says he won’t support Ashkelon, the Israeli city Sacramento could soon call a sibling.
“There has to be human rights for all, equality for all,” said Mandel.
Mandel says that’s not the case in the coastal city, and wrote a letter saying as much to council members.
“Due to Israeli policy, which unfortunately our U.S. government supports, certain significant number of our friends and neighbors in Sacramento, namely people who are Palestinian-Americans, whether they’re citizens or not, are prevented at all from entering Israel or it’s made very difficult,” said Mandel.
But, supporters of Ashkelon disagree.
“The Jewish community has been working for years to identify the right city,” said Councilman Jay Schenirer.
Schenirer is disappointed the issue has drawn so much opposition.
“It’s really to move forward in relationships. That’s what I hope we can do,” said Schenirer.
Three years ago Sacramento made the Palestinian city of Bethlehem a sister city. Some say it’s only fair to ad an Israeli one.
“The Jewish community supported Bethlehem as a sister city and in return the council passed a resolution, Israel would also have a sister city,” said Schenirer.
But instead of bringing people together, as the nine current sister cities have already done, the latest addition may serve to drive a wedge between Sacramento groups.
“We need to resist it and we’re participating in that. That doesn’t make us anti-Israeli or anything,” said Mandel.
Schenirer says he fully expects the measure to pass come next week’s city council meeting.