Support and Call for a Permanent Ceasefire Resolution: 12/11/2023

Click the plus sign to read my comments on the resolution to Support and Call for a Permanent Ceasefire. You can also watch my commentary by clicking the image above and watching the statements from the council meeting in December 2023.

  1. Thank you. It’s been hard for me to take a public stance on Palestine and Israel since Oct. 7. Divergent values and principles and my own history in the struggle for human rights and liberation have been evoked.

Because it is not easy, I take seriously the heart-felt emails of many people who’ve reached out. I feel the weight of the traumas caused by Anti-Semitism, Colonialism, Pogroms, the Nakba, and the Holocaust.

I am a Jew, named after my father’s brother who was mortally wounded fighting the Nazis. My grandfathers both left Eastern Europe in the wake of the pogroms. I take very seriously the significance of this legacy and the legacy of my people.

It is why I reject the criticism that Hanukah is being desecrated by our bringing this resolution now. Hanukah is not just about latkes and dreidels, singing the Bruckahs and lighting candles; it is a commemoration of a revolution of the Jewish people against foreign occupation and repression. This is not a holiday that is incongruous with a resolution asking that we care about the Palestinians, that we speak out against Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. I question the use of this holiday as a cudgel against acting for peace and justice.

My sponsorship of this resolution is founded on 6 basic beliefs:

1. It is not ok to shoot people down in the street, especially for them speaking Arabic or wearing Keffiyehs.
2. It is not ok to kidnap or murder 3 year olds or 85 year olds, or use sexual violence as a weapon of war, no matter what the rationale or justification.
3. It is not ok to bomb a people, a people that includes tens of thousands of 3 and 85 year olds, into rubble and to not do everything humanly possible to immediately end the humanitarian crisis that results.
4. It is not ok to harass and threaten a people due to their religion or nationality and to not acknowledge the competing traumas that people, in this case Palestinians and Jews, are suffering.
5. It is not ok that terrible things are being done in my name as a Jew and with our money and power as citizens of the US.

I believe in the right to self-defense and the right to resist and rebel against oppression and occupation.

But I have had a growing belief that Gandhi was right, that “an eye for an eye” just leaves all of us blind.

Reconciling these believes has been hard but I believe that this resolution fairly does that.

Let me briefly respond to 3 objections to our resolution.

The listing of the number of people killed and taken hostage in Hamas’ Oct. 7th attack in lines 24-25 and the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis in response in line 29 is factual. It is not embellished but simply stating the facts does not gloss over anything.

UN officials have called the bombing of Gaza collective punishment for over a month. A prominent Israeli human rights organization has characterized the conduct of the Israeli war ascollective punishment. The statement on line 27 that the Palestinian people are suffering collective punishment for the acts of Hamas is fair and accurate.  

We’ve also been told that we should not be dealing with non-local matters. I reject that entirely; this City Council has a long history of being part of a global movement for peace and justice from the Nuclear Freeze to Central American solidarity, and even Palestine and Israel through the Bethlehem-Arad-Burlington sister city program I was co-sponsor of with Councilor Bill Aswad, a Lebanese-American, some 30 years ago.

What we do here does and can make a difference in the greater world.

I thank Councilors Dieng and Magee for drafting this resolution and asking for my support.

A Muslim and a Jew and the descendent of Irish immigrants uniting to call on us to stand against hate and for peace and justice is a good thing.

We need to speak out against hate and support the victims of the shooting. The Palestinian people need our voices to help them get the humanitarian aid they urgently need.

It is clear that an end to the blockade, the bombing, and the military operations in Gaza is essential to that aid getting through. They need a ceasefire. And Israelis and Palestinians need their war to end.

 This is what our resolution calls for and what I ask you to support. Thank you.