The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix reports
The YWCA of the USA's National Coordinating Board (NCB), which met in Phoenix from Feb. 11-13, failed to pass a statement condemning the 2004 Witness Report, a four-page account of a visit that 14 members of the World YWCA made to the Middle East last spring.According to the Arizona Republic
That report detailed a visit to Yasser Arafat at his compound in Ramallah and concluded that Israelis were trying to "rid the land of Palestinians" just as "Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews."
Arafat, who died Nov. 11, was the leader of the Palestinian Authority.
The YWCA of the USA is a member of the World YWCA. The YWCA of the USA is made up of local associations that are organized into regions, such as the Southwest Delta Region, to which the Maricopa County YWCA belongs.
The statement condemning the report had been adopted and put forward to the NCB by the Pacific Region of the YWCA, which includes Tucson.
Janet Marcotte, executive director of the Tucson YWCA, said the Witness Report "has been a concern to our organization for a long time. I'm surprised it hasn't come up sooner."
Sharon Bettinelli, executive director of the YWCA Berkeley, in California, echoed Marcotte's concerns. "I'm on the executive committee, so we had been dealing with this for a while," she told Jewish News by phone the day after the NCB voted against the Pacific Region's statement.
In anticipation of the NCB meeting in Phoenix on Feb. 13, Bettinelli sent the 30 members of her board copies of the Pacific Region's statement as well as the Witness Report.
"I wanted to make sure our board members knew about it," she said, "because it was very important for us to separate ourselves from what was going on. ... We have quite a number of Jewish people involved here, and we don't want them to think in any way that we support this. 'They' are 'we.' That's why it was so important for so many of us out here to try to make sure that this resolution was passed at the meetings in Phoenix."
Five members of the NCB voted for the statement, and 11 voted against. There was one abstaining vote.
On a weekend when the YWCA's national coordinating board is meeting in Phoenix, it has refused to meet with the Jewish Community Relations Council. Michelle Steinberg, who leads the council, said her efforts to meet with local board members also have been ignored.Make no mistake, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and spreading the calumny that Israel is tyring "rid the land of Palestinians" just as "Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews" is not criticism of Israeli policies. It is anti-Semitism and should be condemned as such.
Shame on the YWCA for refusing to see this.