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Nevada Democratic Party treasurer resigns over Israel statement

Updated May 17, 2021 - 4:47 pm

A member of the Nevada State Democratic Party’s newly elected progressive leadership has resigned his position after the state party’s chairwoman published a statement Friday accusing the United States of “too long turn(ing) a blind eye to injustice and violence committed by the Israeli government.”

In a letter addressed to state party leaders on Sunday and obtained by the Review-Journal, treasurer Howard Beckerman resigned. Beckerman was elected along with Chair Judith Whitmer and several other progressives in March.

“I have been taking a stand my entire life to stand with the people of Israel to live in peace and to be free of the constant and ongoing terrorism practiced by those who seek its destruction and the annihilation of the Jewish people,” the letter read. “It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that I am resigning my position as NV Democratic State Treasurer effective immediately. I cannot be a party to that statement and will not give ‘cover’ to any person or organization that issues that statement.”

Reached by phone, Beckerman said he had no comment on the letter. He confirmed his resignation and said the letter was not meant for publication.

Whitmer said she was traveling and unavailable for comment, deferring to the state party’s new executive director, Chris Klarich. He verified Beckerman’s resignation, saying the party “wishes him the best.”

“As for the statement, I think it stands by itself,” Klarich continued. “We stand by safeguarding human rights and advocating for human rights.”

Friday statement

Whitmer released the statement to news media on Friday, saying “the Nevada State Democratic Party calls for immediate action from the Biden administration.”

The statement asked President Joe Biden’s administration to call for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and the people of Palestine.

Whitmer said atrocities and human rights violations were being committed against the people of Palestine, including the killing of children.

“The United States continues to be a multi-billion dollar supplier in military funding to Israeli forces, and as our leader, President Biden must take decisive action during this critical moment and work to save the homes and lives of the Palestinian people,” Whitmer said.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, have been killed so far as Israel bombed the Gaza Strip and neighboring areas for several days in retaliation for thousands of rockets launched into Tel Aviv by the Hamas militant group. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier.

Biden and Nevada Democrats, including the congressional delegation and Gov. Steve Sisolak, have backed Israel, the United States’ primary ally in the Middle East. Democrats have called for de-escalation and ceasefire, but remain supportive of Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

Elected Democrats respond

Rep. Susie Lee and Sen. Jacky Rosen put out statements publicly condemning Whitmer’s statement shortly after the state party released it.

“I wholeheartedly condemn any statements that ignore the history and complicated nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the fact that Israel is under attack,” Lee said.

A new Twitter account, NVJewishDems, was created Monday and shared a statement in support of Biden and condemning Whitmer’s comments. It was signed by 27 Jewish Democrats, including former Rep. Shelley Berkley.

“We expect party leaders to promote words of unity and stand for equality and peace of all people,” the statement read.

Beckerman wrote in his letter that Whitmer’s statement “is divisive and is counterproductive to the goals of the Democratic Party, and has the potential to cost elected Democrats throughout Nevada their elections in 2022 and beyond and severely hamper our fundraising.”

The letter said the party’s stated goals are to help Democrats win election, raise money and register voters, not weigh in on foreign policy.

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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