SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Democratic Party convention speakers called for a cease-fire in Gaza on Saturday, channeling a progressive stance that has opened fractures within the party.
Delegates cheered and chanted “ceasefire now!” after Dr. Sara Deen, a Muslim leader from Southern California, called for a halt to Israel’s military operation from the main stage of a party convention in Sacramento. Deen was joined by Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, an interfaith leader who condemned abuses by both Hamas and the Israeli government.
“We stand together acknowledging the thousands of Palestinians and Israelis dead in Israel and Gaza and the occupation,” Jacobs said, condemning Israeli hostages held by Hamas and “Palestinian political prisoners held without charges in Israel.”
The speech did not reflect an official party position. California Democratic Party spokesperson Shery Yang said that speakers prepare their own remarks.
But their call for a cease-fire from the convention stage — and the enthusiastic reaction from delegates — underscored how much of the Democratic Party’s grassroots base has embraced a position that is at odds with President Joe Biden and many prominent Democrats. A small contingent of pro-Palestinian advocates demonstrated outside the event ahead of an anticipated larger action on Saturday.
The issue has permeated California’s U.S. Senate race. Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter have rejected calls for a cease-fire, but Rep. Barbara Lee has demanded it in an affirmation of her progressive status.
Convention delegate Barisha Spriggs said she chose to support Lee over Porter in large part because of their differing stances on the conflict. Spriggs said she became disillusioned with Porter after learning she did not back a cease-fire, which “made me realize she’s not progressive.”
“Barbara Lee is the only candidate calling for a cease-fire,” Spriggs said. “That’s a stance on the right side of history.”
Democrats will vote this weekend on a Senate endorsement, although it is unlikely that Schiff, Porter, or Lee will clear the 60 percent threshold required to get the nod. The party is not expected to consider a change to its official position on Israel.