Tensions Rise as AHF Calls Out Alleged Antisemitic Language, Unconventional Tactics
By Dolores Quintana
Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a sponsor of the Justice for Renters Act on next year’s state ballot, has leveled accusations of antisemitism against the California Apartment Association’s political communications.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation placed a full-page ad on Nov. 24 in Jewish News of Northern California; the non-profit and activist organization accused the CAA of employing language in political communications that it considered antisemitic, particularly in reference to AHF co-founder and President Michael Weinstein.
The AHF advertisement stated, “You characterize him as a selfish, cheap, greedy slumlord and a scamming drug manipulator who is only out for himself. In other words, you are saying Michael is a modern-day Shylock — an antisemitic trope if there ever was one.” AHF also expressed offense at CAA activists dressed as cockroaches who distributed flyers critiquing AHF during the Democratic Party’s state convention in Sacramento on the weekend of Nov. 18.
Statements from the CAA-sponsored initiative Protect Patients Now rejected AHF’s accusation, asserting that the cockroach suits were intended to show people at the convention some of the charges in media reports of substandard conditions at AHF-owned and managed buildings.
Protect Patients Now, a proposed ballot measure aims to strip nonprofit status from drug programs that have spent more than $100 million on issues other than direct patient care. Nathan Click, a representative for Protect Patients Now, stated that voter signatures are currently being collected to place the measure on the November ballot. AHF argues that the public funding program 340B, which allows it to purchase prescription drugs at a deep discount, also permits a certain percentage to be spent on political activity.
Bob Hertzberg, former speaker of the California State Assembly and member emeritus of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, an ally of Protect Patients Now, denied claims of antisemitism. Hertzberg stated, “We are living in difficult times. During these very painful times for our Jewish community, it is wrong, in every sense of the word, for Michael Weinstein to now claim antisemitism to distract from this important story when the City [of Los Angeles] is working so diligently to find good and decent homes for the unhoused.”