Communities Demand Apology from Mayor Breed

January 23, 2024

Dear Mayor London Breed,

We join as a coalition of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and Jewish organizations to express our deep concern and disagreement with your deeply disappointing letter in response to the Board of Supervisors’ Gaza ceasefire resolution. While we were initially relieved that you made the right decision by not vetoing the resolution, the contents of your letter were inflammatory, irresponsible, disingenuous, one-sided, and intentionally political. Many points in the letter were not only inaccurate, but also racist, divisive, and demeaning towards Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities in San Francisco and beyond, while also completely erasing the thousands of Jewish people who supported the resolution.

Your letter suggests that the resolution and subsequent public reactions have increased division and made the city less safe, particularly for Jewish residents. While we share your concerns about anti-Semitism, which is abhorrent and must be unequivocally condemned, it is patently false to label the entire resolution and its supporters as contributing to anti-Semistim in San Francisco. First, the resolution was authored by a Supervisor who is Jewish and the son of a Holocaust survivor; co-sponsored by a Supervisor who is Jewish and the daughter of an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) veteran, and was supported with Yes votes from two additional Supervisors who are Jewish. Second, the ceasefire resolution mobilized significantly more Jewish people to come to City Hall and write emails to the offices of city leaders in support of the ceasefire resolution than it did to mobilize Jewish people to criticize or argue against it.

While the resolution may have sparked strong emotions among a small subset of people, it is inaccurate and disingenuous to equate this with an endorsement of hatred or violence against any group, including Jewish San Franciscans.

Additionally, using your platform as a leader to share war propaganda from the Israeli government does nothing to advance our shared priority of eliminating antisemitism, while the conflation of Palestinian advocacy with antisemitism creates confusion and less safety for the Jewish community here at home. The examples of hostility you cited at the Board of Supervisors’ hearings should not be generalized to represent the views or behaviors of all the San Franciscans who support the resolution; it is important to distinguish between the inappropriate actions of a few and the peaceful advocacy of many.

This advocacy was demonstrated in an unprecedented show of support and public engagement as thousands of San Franciscans came to City Hall on December 5th, January 8th, and January 9th to be seen and heard by our city’s elected leaders. Across two meetings held on December 5th and January 8th, hundreds of residents gave more than 12 hours of public comment, the overwhelming majority speaking in favor of the ceasefire resolution. Some San Franciscans waited in line for hours to speak; others waited at City Hall all day to witness the outcome of critical votes in committee and at the Board. In the lead up to the Board of Supervisors’ vote, more than 65,000 emails were sent to the Supervisors' offices in support of a ceasefire. And the only occurrence of violence that occurred at City Hall across these meetings was when an anti-ceasefire public commenter physically attacked an Arab youth.

In addition, we were shocked and offended that you did not mention the ongoing anti-Palestinian sentiment or Islamophobia that many San Franciscans are experiencing even once in your letter.

Had your administration done its due diligence and listened to the hours of public comment given across the multiple Board of Supervisors’ hearings, you would know that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim constituents are being impacted right here in San Francisco because of what is happening in Gaza. Our relatives are being killed; some of us have lost more than 100 family members. Our lives in San Francisco have been stuck in limbo for the last 3.5 months.

San Francisco, with its rich history of activism and social justice, is a place where all voices are heard, not just those of a privileged few.

Had your administration met with any Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim constituent groups since October 7th, you would know that we do not feel safe and are being targeted. We are being targeted and bullied. Our hijabs are being pulled off in San Francisco public schools. We are being harassed in the streets. Our buildings and businesses are being tagged and vandalized.

The reality is that the reports of these incidents that have been sent into your office have been met with silence and inaction. On November 30th, AROC sent a letter to your office about the danger their staff and the Arab and Muslim communities in San Francisco at large were facing after being called a “pro-terrorist” organization by JCRC CEO Tyler Gregory. No condemnation of this racist and anti-Palestinian rhetoric has been issued by you or your office. In fact, your office has a close relationship with JCRC despite their well documented track record of anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic actions, and the group was highly influential in informing the inflammatory and inaccurate points used in your letter.

The lack of attention, care, and concern for your Palestinian, Arab and Muslim constituents is clear. The glaring omissions and sequence in which you lay out your points in your letter makes it crystal clear that our families here in San Francisco, in Gaza, and elsewhere do not matter to you or your administration. Making a purely political jab about a recent District 9 debate was more of a priority than addressing the loss of life in Gaza which occurred more than halfway down page 2.

Furthermore, comparing the experiences of Jewish individuals with hypothetical scenarios involving Black, LGBTQ+, or Asian individuals suggests some sort of hierarchy of oppression. Every form of discrimination, be it anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, or Islamophobia is deplorable and deserves unequivocal condemnation across the board. Trying to equate different forms of discrimination in the manner which you did is counterproductive, diminishes the unique experiences of each group, and undermines solidarity.

In conclusion, while we respect your position as the Mayor, we urge you to reconsider the implications of your statements; issue a retraction and apology; and dismiss the ill-informed, out-of-touch, and racist and biased staff and advisors that contributed to writing this damaging letter as soon as possible.


Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - California

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)

Jewish Voice for Peace - Bay Area

If Not Now - Bay Area

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