ADL Condemns Claudia Alvarez for Anti-Semitic Remarks at Santa Ana City Council Meeting

The Anti-Defamation League is issuing a statement condemning comments made by Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez.  Regional director Kevin O’Grady, who has an office on Fourth Street and Broadway in Santa Ana, said that Alvarez and the City Council should be ashamed and embarrassed over remarks made last night that reinforce old stererotypes of Jews and Jewish-Americans. 

Here is the statement: “The Anti-Defamation League of Orange County/Long Beach condemns Santa Ana Councilmember Claudia Alvarez for her outrageous anti-Semitic tirade. During Wednesday evening’s Santa Ana City Council meeting Alvarez compared Jewish property owner Irv Chase to Adolf Hitler and accused him of “ethnic cleansing.” 

ADL Regional Director Kevin O’Grady said, “Councilmember Alvarez’s comments were appalling.  Ms. Alvarez invoked century’s old anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews as financially exploitative and made offensive and inappropriate Nazi comparisons.” O’Grady continued, “ADL calls on Councilwoman Alvarez to issue a public apology to the Chases, the Jewish community and the community at large. There is no room for anti-Semitism or bigotry of any kind in civil discourse. It is especially troubling that this outburst came from an elected official.  We were pleased to see that two of Councilmember Alvarez’s colleagues on the city council renounced her statements and we call upon Mayor Pulido and the other members of the City Council to denounce the Councilmember’s offensive and hurtful remarks.”

 

The Voice of OC and the OC Register had these stories.

The Voice of OC reported: “Alvarez made the reference (to Hitler) and publicly accused Irving Chase and his son Ryan Chase of conducting an “ethnic cleansing” campaign in the city’s downtown core, saying they were essentially plotting to eradicate Latino merchants who have owned businesses in the downtown for decades.

Specifically, Alvarez said: “So if Hitler rents you a place and gives you a good deal, do you take it?”

Both Chases stormed out of the meeting upon hearing Alvarez’s comparison.

 

“Did you just call me Hitler?” Irving Chase shouted. Screamed Ryan Chase before they left: “My grandparents are Holocaust survivors!”

Alvarez stood by her remarks after the meeting, saying that ethnic cleansing was exactly what the Chases were doing. The term usually is reserved for conflicts involving genocide, such as World War II and the civil war in the former Yugoslavia.

She went on to say that Irving Chase uses his Jewish identity as a defense against the ethnic cleansing allegation, which has been made by Latinos in downtown to describe what they see as gentrification.

From the Register’s story: “Discontent over the taxes that fund the two-year-old PBID has become fused in many minds with another, related controversy. The other concerns efforts by the Chases to diversify what has been for decades an almost an entirely working class, Latino shopping street by attracting new merchants and shoppers. The effort has led to fears that some longtime tenants of the Chases could be displaced.

“Ryan and Irv Chase … are very much interested in continuing the ethnic cleansing that is going on downtown,” Alvarez said as she began her comments on the PBID, setting the tone for what was to come.

Alvarez, who works as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office, made an effective argument for why the PBID should be disestablished. In the eyes of at least two of her council colleagues, however, she debased the evening by drawing a comparison between Irv Chase, who is Jewish, and Hitler.

Alvarez said she had inquired about why Downtown Inc. has its offices in one of the Chases’ buildings and was told it was because the organization got “a great deal” on the rent. “So if Hitler rents you a place, gives you a great deal, you take it?,” she said.

At that point, Irv and Ryan Chase walked out of the council chambers to shouts of “get out of town” and “stop taking our money” from anti-PBID partisans.”

Councilmembers David Benavides and Carlos Bustamante distanced themselves from Alvarez’s remarks and apologized for those who might have been offended. 

In politics, name dropping “Hitler” usually means you’ve lost the argument and it’s hard to determine how a city that is more than 85 percent Latino and prides itself on diversity would equate Downtown, Inc.’s attempts to diversify as “ethnic cleansing” unless Alvarez’s statement alluded to the ethnic cleansing of every other type of minority other than Latino.  Equating the Chase family with Hitler and with the term “ethnic cleansing” from the dais possibly places the city at risk for a defamation lawsuit.

Alavrez, who once referred to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as a “horrible accident,” may have misunderstood what ethnic cleansing actually means; ethnic cleansing is a deliberate  policy whereas one ethnic or religious group seeks the removal of another ethnicity or religious group by violence or terrorism.  The purpose of ethnic cleansing is to render an area ethnically homogenous.  Think of ethnic cleansing in Germany and Poland during the holocaust, or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda last decade.  Once has to wonder if Alvarez really believes that Irv and Ryan Chase are actually practicing ethnic cleansing in regards to the private property they own and the documented cases of assistance they have provided to Santa Ana’s Latino community over the years.  For a city that prides itself on diversity, Alvarez may have an unusual definition of what diversity really is.

The Alvarez comments actually overshadowed a missed opportuntity for the city council to demonstrate a committment to diversity when they passed over an opportunity to name the plaza on Fourth and French Street after gay activist Harvey Milk. The council chose the name “Plaza Santa Ana.” Councilmember Sal Tinajero, known for helping recognize Harvey Milk Day in the city didn’t utter a word in support of naming the Plaza after the renouned gay activist known for equality and civil rights. 

We’ll also note, with humor, Councilwoman Michele Martinez’s suggestion that Downtown Inc diversify and follow the Brown Act?  Would she give the city council the same advice?

 

  17 comments for “ADL Condemns Claudia Alvarez for Anti-Semitic Remarks at Santa Ana City Council Meeting

  1. Thomas Anthony Gordon
    August 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Claudia Alvarez is an elected official representing all the people of Santa Ana, regardless of race, religion, sex or party affiliation and in that capacity is responsible for exhibiting leadership and maturity. The making of anti-Semitic statements is sophomoric to say the least and a complete abdication of Ms. Alvarez’s responsibilities outlined in the Santa Ana Code of Ethics law that states she must treat her fellow officials, staff and the public with patience, courtesy and civility, even when they disagree on what is best for the community as well as conduct herself in a courteous and respectful manner at all times during the performance of her official City duties.

    Any student of history understands why the casual use of language and comparisons to Adolph Hitler, especially when directed at a person of the Jewish faith, is overtly anti-Semitic and should be rebuked in the strongest of terms. The Nazi’s portrayal of Jews and others as non- human, is a painful, disgusting part of our World history. That practice has no place in this nation and certainly not in this county.

    Claudia Alvarez has embarrassed the residents of the City of Santa Ana as well as all member of her Democratic Party. Her actions fly in the face of the very words of the great President Ronald Reagan who said: “The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past. For example, the long struggle of minority citizens for equal rights, once a source of disunity and civil war, is now a point of pride for all Americans. We must never go back. There is no room for racism, anti-Semitism, or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country.”

    Ms. Alvarez should do the right thing and immediately resign her Council position with the City of Santa Ana to spare Santa Ana and Orange County from further embarrassment and to send a message that she truly understands the harm she has caused and that the residents of Santa Ana along with the Democratic Party do not support Anti-Semitism in any form.

  2. Santa Ana Resident
    August 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    A friend and supporter of Minuteman Lupe Moreno lecturing about hate speech…Now that’s rich!!!

  3. August 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    It’s only rich if you’re defending Alvarez on this….last time I checked Lupe Moreno holds no position in city government. So does this sort of speech mean Claudia is a hater or a bigot or a racist?

    • Arizona Lightning
      August 26, 2011 at 6:23 am

      Rich or ironic, from the guy who uses a Jew hating CAIR lawyer to sue those who have better blog readership.

      But that aside, her point, while delivered with a poor choice of words, hit’s the spot when it comes to what the Chase’s are doing.

      • August 26, 2011 at 8:48 am

        You mean that same lawyer who advocates for tolerance and understanding? That same lawyer who ran for city council on a ticket with two Jewish members of the Irvine city council? That same lawyer who invited several guests who happen to be Jewish to his wedding? Read up on the suit idiot; it isn’t about better blog readership. Last time I checked, this is America and who can start businesses with property you own.

  4. Steve
    August 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Alvarez’ rant certainly does violate the city’s Code of Ethics. At the very least, she owes the Chase’s and the people of Santa Ana an apology…from the dais.

  5. Apple Pie
    August 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    This is a really scary person. What’s next? Will she go postal from her chair? Instead of ear phones for translation everyone will be given a bullet proof vest.

    This crazy person must go. She makes the whole city look like a circus.

  6. Gil
    August 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Well, well…lets see what good ole’ Pulido will do to save Claudia

  7. August 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Funny this woman calls anybody hitler after she shuts commenters down at the council meetings. She really stepped in it this time but not to worry, the tiny dark lord will make it all better and the ignorant residents of santa ana will continue to keep her in office.

  8. OC Martini
    August 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    You go girl, KKKlaudia! Just when people started to believe you to have gained a modicum of sanity and morality, you show your racist stripes again.

  9. cook
    August 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    She can say whatever she wants to say.

    But there are consequences to ones actions and their words.

    She will be paying a price for those words for a long time.

  10. Terrance
    August 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    It seems to me that at every turn, Alvarez and her supporters take the ‘la rasa’ stance and want everything in the southwestern U.S. to belong to Mexico. I wonder if she’s even ‘technically’ a U.S. citizen? Talk about racist—that would be Ms. Alvarez, in my book. If you look on the City of Santa Ana website, and click on ‘City Council’, then ‘agenda’, you’ll discover that Santa Ana chooses to use a ‘closed session’ when it comes to discussing certain issues. Among them is the City’s dealing with such organizations as ‘seiu’ and other ‘left-leaning’ groups. These groups can make their “deals” with the Santa Ana City Council—behind closed doors. I don’t think white or Jewish citizens are exactly ‘welcome’ in Santa Ana. I’m glad I no longer have a home there! Furthermore, successful men and women (and landlords) are the ones who MADE Santa Ana and every other successful city and town in the U.S. great! Now the low-life “give mes” get huffy when they can’t get even MORE taxes out of people. So I say, let the ‘give mes’ see how long they can remain successful when everyone is saying to them “give me more.” I hate that sanctuary-anti-American place, and real hispanic citizens who ‘did it the right way’ do too.

  11. H.Steel
    August 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    The fact that she stood by her statement after she said it and probably only “apologized” after she was told that she was offending fellow Democrats is no reason to “forgive” this bigot. What kind of outcry would there be from HER if somebody made a derogatory remark against a Latino.

    She does not deserve to be in elected office, can’t wait for her to run for office, I will campaign for whoever runs against her.

  12. August 26, 2011 at 6:27 am

    The City of Santa Ana should begin a recall of Alvarez at once. There is no room for public Officials to make statements like she did. She is a disgrace to the City, the State and America.

  13. August 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Hyperbole (play /haɪˈpɜrbəliː/ hy-pur-bə-lee;[1] Greek: ὑπερβολή, ‘exaggeration’) is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.

    Hyperbole is used all the time in the political world. When people start going over the top protesting that someone is racist, anti-Semitic, or whatever word to fan flames,you have to really ask are they using hyperbole too or are they the the real hate mongers.

  14. August 26, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Mike — what about the council walk out on Benavides honoring citizens from July 4 2010? It was called Hatergate based on one comment by someone who didn;t organize the event. Look up the expression “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

  15. Antonio Marquez
    August 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I love you right wingers. You are probably ok with Tea Party types comparing President Obama to “Hitler and Nazis” but a councilwoman making a similar comment about one of your own, and you go nuts…..I laugh at your hypocrisy. Both are wrong and should be condemned.

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