Last week, a few days after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood shoulder to shoulder with leaders of the Jewish community and spoke out in support of Israel’s war against Hamas, I got an email from Rabbi Eli Herscher of Stephen S. Wise Temple, inviting me to celebrate Shabbat with the mayor:
“I cannot emphasize too strongly the meaning of the Mayor having taken a publicly supportive stand, while under pressure from some quarters not to do so. I also cannot overstate how important it is forIsrael to receive such support. So often the media fails to offer any context for the painful photographs it puts on display. Rarely are we given any sense of history or perspective on how the conflict in Gazahas arisen out of unrelenting Hamas bombardments of the innocent residents of Southern Israel. And only seldom are we reminded that Israel’s operation in Gaza is an effort against the scourge of terrorism. Much of the world also seems oblivious to the reality that Hamas terrorism is inspired and enabled by Iran.
“But we know all this. And more importantly, Mayor Villaraigosa has visited the Israeli town of Sderotand seen the destruction with his own eyes. More, he has born testimony to it.”
This was far from a first for Villaraigosa, whom The Forward called “something of an honorary member of the tribe.” There is a short story about the mayor’s visit in this week’s Jewish Journal. No word yet on whether L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who spent the weekend in Israel, will be popping up at a local synagogue tomorrow night.