San Francisco supervisors approve motion urging Gaza ceasefire that condemns Hamas and Israel

People react to public comment at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting in San Francisco, January 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)
People react to public comment at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting in San Francisco, January 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

SAN FRANCISCO — Supervisors in San Francisco have approved a resolution calling for an extended ceasefire in Gaza that condemns Hamas as well as the Israeli government and also urges the Biden administration to press for the release of all hostages and delivery of humanitarian aid.

Ceasefire advocates in the audience erupted into cheers and chants of “Free Palestine” after the 8-3 vote Tuesday on a last-minute compromise proposed by Aaron Peskin, president of the Board of Supervisors. It is more succinct than the original resolution.

Peskin, who is Jewish, acknowledges that no resolution would receive the board’s unanimous support and laments that they could not use the opportunity to bridge San Franciscans on both sides of the issue.

“I don’t know that there’s any way to successfully do that,” he says, “given how deep the divisions and the hurt and the horror and the pain are.”

Oakland, another Bay Area city that is politically liberal like San Francisco, unanimously approved a permanent ceasefire resolution in November after rejecting an amendment that would have added an explicit condemnation of Hamas.

But Berkeley, another San Francisco Bay Area city that is overwhelmingly liberal and inclined to side with oppressed peoples, declined to consider a resolution, with Mayor Jesse Arreguín said in a statement that such resolutions “fan the flames of hatred.”

The resolution approved by San Francisco condemns the Hamas attack as well as actions by the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It condemns rhetoric and attacks that are antisemitic, anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic or xenophobic.

The original resolution introduced by Supervisor Dean Preston in December, who is also Jewish, included the same sentiments but also had more detail of calls for a cease-fire. His bill co-sponsor was Hillary Ronen, a supervisor whose father served in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Neither version went far enough in explicitly condemning atrocities committed by Hamas, says Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who voted no. “To do otherwise, in my view, would send a dangerous and unthinkable message that terrorism works,” he says.

Ceasefire supporters in the audience booed when he brought up documentation by Hamas terrorists of rape, brutality and mutilation against women in their attack, prompting Peskin to admonish the crowd to “chill out and let everybody speak.”

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