Commissioner Khaliq Raufi, circle in red
UPDATE July 28, 2023: The resignation of the commissioner, Khaliq Raufi, was announced on Wednesday, July 26th, by San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson in a scathing statement.
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The meeting was supposed to focus on recent controversial remarks on Israel by one member of San Diego County’s Human Relations Commission, George Khoury. Instead, they were overshadowed when another commissioner made new, inflammatory false comments about Jews.
Causing outrage, Jewish leaders are calling for dramatic changes to the commission they believe are needed to ensure it improves human relations, and doesn’t incite hate.
While coming to the defense of fellow commissioner Khoury, Khaliq Raufi made offensive remarks of his own, falsely asserting that Judaism teaches Jews to kill.
Raufi said he’d read a few verses in Deuteronomy, the fifth book of both the Torah and Christian Old Testament. “It states ‘Go kill Palestinians. Wipe them all out,’” Raufi said Tuesday. “So it’s a teaching that they, on a daily basis, teach their followers in their synagogues.”
Jewish watchdog organization StopAntisemitism shared the incident with their followers on Twitter.
Raufi’s comments will be an agenda item for discussion at the commission’s next meeting on Aug. 15, according to chair Ellen Nash, who said the remarks shocked her “It was inappropriate,” she said. “I am very, very upset about it.”
The discussion of Israel arose back in May, when Commissioner Khoury sparked criticism by calling Israel a “racist, fascist state.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Khoury reiterated sentiments he expressed last month in a letter to commissioners, denying that his remarks were antisemitic.
After Raufi made his remarks about what he falsely claimed was Jewish teaching, Commissioner Kate Clark, who is senior director of immigration services for Jewish Family Service of San Diego, was the only member to rebuke him, asking him to acknowledge “the pain of the statements that you made.”
Brown said the silence from commissioners otherwise was deafening. “It was so unbelievably shocking in the moment — and even more shocking was the silence of every single commissioner and county staff,” she said.
The office of Supervisor Joel Anderson, who appointed Raufi to the commission in May, said he would review the video of the meeting at his earliest available opportunity.
In a June letter to the commission, Jewish leaders noted that none of its current 21 members is Jewish, called for that to change and called for educating commissioners about antisemitism, anti-Zionism and the Jewish community.
Perlov says it’s not just a problem for the Jewish community. “Hate should never take place at the San Diego County Human Relations Commission against one community or another.
Ahead of the commission’s meeting Tuesday, county supervisors approved Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer’s appointment of Perlov to the commission.
Perlov says she will advocate for commission-wide training, education and dialogue.
Other community leaders aren’t sure that’s enough.
“The county needs to take a hard look at whether the HRC is serving the purpose for which it was created and fulfilling its mission — because right now, it is a pipeline and a platform for hate rhetoric,” Brown said.