Today's L.A. Times reports that the city's Muslim community is continuing its criticism of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's high-profile support for Israel's invasion of Gaza. Representatives from Islamic groups say Villaraigosa's vocal endorsement for Israel's punishing assaults against Palestinian targets amounts to political cheerleading. His critics maintain the mayor should be expressing even-handed compassion for victims of the civilian  invasion and the Hamas rocket attacks that provoked it. Some have wondered aloud why the mayor of a city that has one or two pressing issues of its own is devoting his time to foreign policy.

The controversy is a carbon copy of a debate that flared during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Then, the mayor and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger drew fire from local Muslims for attending a pro-Israel rally.

“Neither Los Angeles, nor the state of California, is a sovereign

independent state,” wrote Maher Hathout of the Islamic Center of Southern California, in an L.A. Daily New op-ed piece. “Why should they be dragged to take sides in a tragic

international conflict?”

Photo credits: Villaraigosa, Ted Soqui; Gaza, via BBC.

LA Weekly