Courage California Shows Cowardice in Anti-Semitic Attack Against Assemblymember Marc Levine

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) today condemned Courage California for including an anti-Semitic attack in its 2020 recommendation of Levine.


In an October 2020 recommendation of Assemblymember Levine by Courage California, the organization stated:


“Based on our Courage Score analysis, Rep. (sic) Levine has supported the most progressive bills that made it to a vote. That said, Rep. (sic) Levine has been a supporter of Israeli occupation. In 2018, he led a delegation of nine California lawmakers to Israel. He has previously stated that, ‘Israel is a country (he) feels a strong connection to.’ He has led multiple initiatives aimed at fostering partnerships between California and Israeli legislators.” 


The recommendation implies that Assemblymember Levine supports a policy of the state of Israel. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism includes, “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel."


Following discovery of this anti-Semitic attack against Levine, the California Legislative Jewish Caucus intervened and demanded a number of actions be taken by Courage California including removing the anti-Semitic language from Courage California’s website, strengthening its review process of written materials or communications, requiring sensitivity training for all of its staff and releasing a joint statement apologizing for the anti-Semitic attack against Levine.


Initially, Courage California agreed to these terms. Yet during a follow up conversation with Levine’s staff and Courage California Institute’s Board Chair Lindsay Gardner and his staff, Gardner launched another anti-Semitic attack by asking Levine’s staff what “pound of flesh” was being sought by the Legislative Jewish Caucus. The phrase “pound of flesh” refers to William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which has been widely criticized for Shakespeare’s use of anti-Semitic language. Gardner has not apologized for his actions.


Ultimately, Courage California refused to participate in a joint statement apologizing to Levine and condemning anti-Semitism. It is unclear if Courage California will take any actions it had previously committed to that would prevent further anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish lawmakers or other individuals of Jewish descent.


“Healthy criticism is part of my work as an elected official, but I was completely surprised to be targeted by bigotry and anti-Semitism,” said Assemblymember Levine. “Anti-Semitism is especially pernicious as it can go unnoticed by many who don’t recognize it when they see it. With hate and violence against minorities on the rise across the United States, we must expect more from progressive organizations not to fan the flames of anti-Semitism.”


“Courage California has shown cowardice in this important moment,” continued Levine. “While this organization proclaims progressive ideals, it fails its own courage test by continuing to engage in anti-Semitic attacks against Jews. This troubling pattern should be a warning to any of Courage California’s 1.3 million progressive members or its progressive donors who are funding anti-Semitism. Fighting anti-Semitism requires all of us to stand up against hate. It is dangerous, especially at this moment in our history, to have progressive organizations like Courage California engage in hate and bigotry. With so much darkness in the world, we need allies more than ever to stand up against anti-Semitism.”


Assemblymember Marc Levine represents California’s 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma counties.

Levine is the past Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

Connect with Assemblymember Levine on social media: @AsmMarcLevine.