ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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San Francisco supervisors approve resolution calling for ‘sustained ceasefire’ in Gaza

Motion condemning both sides passes in an 8-3 vote; Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who opposed, booed by audience for presenting documentation of Hamas atrocities

People react to public comment at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting discussing a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, in San Francisco, California, January 8, 2024. (Nic Coury/AP)
People react to public comment at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting discussing a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, in San Francisco, California, January 8, 2024. (Nic Coury/AP)

Supervisors in San Francisco approved a resolution calling for a “sustained ceasefire” in Gaza that condemns Hamas as well as the Israeli government and 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, acknowledged that no resolution would receive the board’s unanimous support and lamented 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 said, “given how deep the divisions and the hurt and the horror and the pain are.”

San Francisco joins dozens of other US cities in approving a resolution that has no legal authority but reflects pressure on local governments to speak up on the Israel-Hamas war, now entering its fourth month following a deadly October 7 attack by Hamas terrorists that killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

The thousands of terrorists who invaded southern Israel from Gaza also abducted 240 others of all ages as hostage to Gaza. Over half are still being held captive.

Pro-Palestinian supporters react to speakers during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. San Francisco supervisors approved a slimmed-down resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza that condemns Hamas. Three of 11 supervisors voted no, with two saying they could not support a resolution that does not explicitly call out the atrocities of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Israel responded with a military campaign, including a ground incursion, aimed at destroying Hamas, removing it from power in Gaza, and releasing the hostages.

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.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey listens to public comment at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting in San Francisco, January 8, 2024. (Nic Coury/AP)

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 saying 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.

It opens: “We call for a sustained cease-fire, the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid in Gaza, and the release of all hostages.”

Supervisor Supervisor Hillary Ronen, middle facing, hugs Pro-Palestinian supporters after a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting in San Francisco, January 9, 2024. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

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 ceasefire. His bill co-sponsor was Hillary Ronen, a supervisor whose father served in the Israel Defense Forces.

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

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.”

Supervisors said the issue has sparked an avalanche of calls and emails to their offices.

Pro-Palestinian supporters cheer after a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting in San Francisco, January 9, 2024. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Ceasefire supporters, which include Palestinians and Jewish people, have called the resolution a common-sense stand against “genocide” and a declaration of the value of Palestinian lives. Opponents, including people who are Jewish, have said such resolutions are one-sided and stoke antisemitism.

In an interview before the vote, Preston acknowledged that the initial board reaction to the ceasefire resolution was mixed, with supervisors resistant to taking up what has become a politically loaded issue. But momentum grew as the war continued, he said.

Pro-Palestinian supporters scream “Free Palestine!” as they walk through City Hall in San Francisco, Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

He also said local politicians should speak up because they have constituents who are affected and those people can’t necessarily make their voices heard in Congress.

“Everyone is feeling this locally, the pain and the grief and loss,” he said. “It is a major issue not just in the daily lives of people in the Middle East, but in the daily lives of people in our city.”

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