It is shameful and outrageous that WEHOville would publish a screed invoking conspiratorial and patently false allegations over the participation of Mayor Sepi Shyne and Councilmember Chelsea Byers on a recent American Jewish Committee (AJC) Project Interchange (PI) California Political Leaders Trip to Israel. Contrary to Larry Block’s baseless assertions, there was nothing secretive nor nefarious about this trip, or its participants from across the state. I can attest to this not only in my capacity as AJC’s Los Angeles Director, but because I was privileged to accompany the delegation on this educational experience.
Project Interchange brings opinion leaders and policy makers to Israel for customized educational experiences. PI trips do not aim to convince anyone to adopt any subset of views regarding Jews or Israel. In fact, our hope in hosting these trips is to create space for our attendees to ask questions and engage with leaders they may otherwise not have the opportunity to meet. Through PI, government officials, university leaders, civic and religious leaders, and media professionals are exposed to diverse perspectives, share best practices, and establish new and mutually beneficial relationships with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The August PI trip amplified these objectives and included meetings across the political, security, and social services spectrum – with officials whose responsibilities mirror those of our California leaders. We trust that Mayor Shyne and Councilmember Byers will be more than forthcoming in sharing their perspectives from this experience with their West Hollywood constituents. As for WEHOville, we hope that in the future, you will exercise better judgement by turning to us before publication should you need clarification on the integrity or transparency of our work.
Richard S. Hirschhaut
Los Angeles Director
American Jewish Committee
Thank you for your letter. WEHOville has submitted public records requests to the West Hollywood City Clerk and among the requests are communications between you and both Councilmembers Byers and Shyne. It is not our job to chase your organization, because the organization is oblivious to the fact that both councilmembers were the recipients of an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, and they decided to hide it from constituents they represent.
They are the ones responsible for sharing what they learned from their journey, and sadly, it looks like they didn’t want to share much. As you state in your letter: “We trust that Mayor Shyne and Councilmember Byers will be more than forthcoming in sharing their perspectives from this experience with their West Hollywood constituents.”
If there is anything good to share about your organization, both council members failed to give you any credit. Not a photo on their social media. Not a word or smile. Ya know why? I’ll venture to say they did not want to piss off their Hamas, Palestinian, and Iranian friends who are opponents of Israel. They didn’t stand up for you.
And let’s face it, you are trying to buy off politicians — how many other people in West Hollywood have you offered an all expenses paid trip to Israel?
The only exposure your trip got was what WEHOville gave it. The only awareness that was spread was spread by WEHOville. Your letter shared more about your organization than either council person, so thank you for that.