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California

Lawmakers form new California Legislative Jewish Caucus

SACRAMENTO -- A group of lawmakers has formed the California Legislative Jewish Caucus to weigh in on issues of priority to members, including immigration, civil rights and Israel, according to its chairman, state Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego).

The state Legislature has for years had caucuses representing various groups, including African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders, women, gays and lesbians, environmentalists, rural lawmakers and “outdoor sporting” enthusiasts.

So far, the new caucus has nine full members, including Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), and about three associates. It will meet once a month to discuss issues “that the Jewish community can advocate as a united caucus,” Block said.

He said the caucus was secular, not religious.

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“We see this as an ethnic caucus, about the Jewish people, as opposed to a religious caucus,” Block said, adding some members are “not terribly religious.”

Among the issues the group will address: In the last two years, some University of California student organizations and governments have approved resolutions urging the U.C. Board of Regents to divest from companies linked to the Israeli military.

Block said there was also concern about incidents of anti-Semitism on California university campuses and cases in which professors have taught anti-Israel lessons.

His first official action as chairman was during this week’s Senate ceremony honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Block praised the civil rights leader and noted that Jews were a part of the civil rights movement from the early days.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com


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