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Voters in the Boston suburb of Somerville on Tuesday rejected two ballot questions calling for divestment from Israel and supporting the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees.
It was the latest effort by the Somerville Divestment Project in its ongoing battle to stop what a leader of the organization termed "ethnic cleansing by the Zionist project."
Like past efforts, this year's referenda were overwhelming defeated. The questions asked voters whether the district's representative in the state legislature should be called on to back divestment from Israel bond holdings and the Palestinian right of return should they come up for a vote in the State House.
On the former, residents voted 70 percent to 30% against, also defeating the latter 55-45.
"It was an amazing victory," said Greater Boston's Jewish Community Relations Council Executive Director Nancy Kaufman, who said the issues on referenda issues wouldn't have come before the state legislature in any case. "We hope this puts the issue to rest once and for all."
She added that the anti-divestment effort had a "wall to wall" coalition of support from Jews "right, left and center," as well as from the mayor, state representatives and all of Massachusetts' gubernatorial candidates.
But the divestment project gave no indication of giving up.
SDP board member Ron Francis said the group was celebrating the result that "45% of residents of Somerville reject Israel's ethnic cleansing."
He said that "people just said no, we're not just going to fall lock-step behind the elected officials just because they give the illusion of consensus."
Francis, however, didn't say whether the group would make another referendum effort as it continues its campaign.
Somerville abuts both Boston and Cambridge and boasts a part-working class, part progressive population of 80,000. In the past, its board of aldermen defeated a proposal to divest from Israel bonds, while an SDP effort last year to get the divestment issue on the ballot proved unsuccessful.
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