The mayor of a tony Maryland suburb resigned from a prominent golf club on Monday because the club might not welcome President Obama as a member.
Jeffrey Slavin, the mayor of the Montgomery County town of Somerset, wrote in an email that he would not remain a member of Woodmont Country Club because of a recent fevered debate about whether Obama could join.
Some members of the historically Jewish club have said they would not welcome Obama, who has played there four times during his presidency, because of his recent decision not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements.
“He has created a situation in the world where Israel’s very existence is weakened and possibly threatened . . .” longtime member Faith Goldstein wrote in a late December email obtained by The Washington Post. “He is not welcome at Woodmont. His admittance would create a storm that could destroy our club.”
Another member, attorney Marc B. Abrams, called it “inconceivable” that Obama should be in the club because of his stance toward Israel.
In the ensuing debate over the email, Slavin, a Democratic activist and a lifelong member of the country club where his father was also a member, said he would lead a mass membership resignation if Obama were not invited to join.
On Monday — which he noted was Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Slavin made good on at least his own resignation.
He wrote in an email to the club’s general manager:
“I can no longer belong to a community:
Where Intolerance is accepted,
Where History is forgotten,
Where Freedom of Speech is denied,
And where the nation’s first black president is disrespected.”
Slavin signed his email “Thanks for many great memories,” followed by a quote from the civil rights anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and then the words “Stay Woke.”
There is no indication that Obama has actually asked to join the 460-acre club off Rockville Pike, though Politico reported last summer that it would be his likely post-presidency choice of golf spots.
Woodmont charges an $80,000 member initiation fee and $9,600 in dues annually. When it was founded in 1913, Jews commonly were not accepted in other clubs, and it remains predominantly Jewish today.
Club President Barry Forman declined to comment on Monday.
Slavin told The Post that he was inspired to resign right away when he heard the Rev. William J. Barber II, a prominent civil rights activist, speak at Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Martin Luther King Jr. service on Friday night.
“I decided that unless someone did something bold, the club would do nothing,” he said. He wasn’t willing to wait around to see if Obama actually applies for membership — he wants the club to publicly state right away that he would be welcome.
“There would be no reason they wouldn’t want someone like that, a prominent figure they could rub elbows with,” he said.
Slavin said he has spoken to many other country club members. The majority agree with him that Obama should be welcomed, he said. But they’d rather stay in the club, trying to make that happen, than resign.
Slavin couched his decision to quit his country club in the rhetoric of the civil rights movement: “Dr. Martin Luther King stated in 1963, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy,’ ” Slavin said. “I felt I couldn’t let this go on any longer.”
Bill Turque also contributed to this report.