Media reports that members of the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville opposed offering President Barack Obama membership because of his policies on Israel have led one prominent member to call on the club to publicly extend Obama a membership offer.
Jeffrey Slavin, the mayor of the town of Somerset and a lifelong member of the club, wrote in an open letter to club President Barry Forman that he hopes the reports of the opposition to Obama’s membership “are inaccurate because such intolerance is unacceptable.” He added that publicly offering Obama a membership would “erase this emerging permanent stain on the club’s stellar reputation.”
Woodmont was founded by Washington-area Jews in 1913 because area country clubs did not extend membership to Jews.
In an email to WJW, Forman declined to comment on the story, saying he “was not prepared to respond to questions.” Woodmont Country Club CEO Brian Pizzimenti did not return calls from WJW.
The New York Post reported Tuesday that members of the club were “at each other’s throats” over whether or not to offer Obama a free membership in light of the Obama administration’s decision not to veto a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
The New York Post story, which was picked up by many news outlets, relied on anonymous sourcing for the claim that club members opposed Obama’s membership. It included a quote from a unnamed “official in a Washington Jewish organization” who said, “Can you imagine how angry I would be if I had paid $80K to have to look at this guy who has done more to damage Israel than any president in American history?”
Slavin told WJW Thursday that the controversy is “damaging to our community. It’s creating international waves that the Jewish country club of the nation’s capital doesn’t want our president to be a member. They need to do something to get out of this public relations mess.”
Politico reported this summer that Obama was interested in joining the club because it does not have a history of discriminating against minorities and because it would waive its $80,000 membership initiation fee and $9,673 in annual dues.
Slavin mentioned that history, saying, “The club was formed because Jews couldn’t go to the Chevy Chase club over 100 years ago. How ironic is it?”
Editorial Director Joshua Runyan contributed reporting to this article.