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Resolution on a Gaza ceasefire is passed by the city council, which also condemns antisemitic remarks made by the public



Bloomington, Indiana – The Israel-Hamas War has to end, and the Bloomington City Council is joining more than 70 other cities nationwide in requesting this. A resolution asking national leaders to work toward a ceasefire and increase help in the fighting was unanimously approved by the council. The council denounced racist and antisemitic remarks made during public debate later in the meeting.

The vote by the council follows almost a month of contradictory demands from locals for a resolution to the truce. Public commentators have urged the council to introduce and approve a resolution requesting a truce in the conflict, which started when Hamas killed over 1,200 people in Israel during its onslaught on October 7. This request has been made throughout the previous three council meetings. Israel conducted an aerial and ground offensive in Gaza in retaliation to this act, killing over 32,000 Palestinians and uprooting 80% of the population in the process.
Some locals, on the other hand, have asked the council to hold off on introducing any resolution, claiming it would be better to allocate its time and resources to other pressing matters. The preceding three council sessions featured heated disagreement among attendees, and this Wednesday’s meeting was no different.

Many community members claimed the resolution was polarizing and provocative during public comments, while others claimed it did not go far enough to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Council members Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Dave Rollo are the sponsors of the resolution, which requests that national leaders seek a bilateral truce to enable more humanitarian relief in the conflict. It opposes “all violence that leads to the loss of innocent civilian lives and ongoing human suffering in both Palestine and Israel” and denounces the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli citizens by Hamas. A “lasting” ceasefire and a “sustainable, peaceful solution to the conflict between Palestinians and the State of Israel” are also demanded in the resolution.
The resolution also demands the immediate release of every hostage that Hamas took during their attack. About 110 hostages have been released by Hamas after it captured about 250 hostages on October 7.

Although the resolution denounces Hamas’ attack, it omits a provision that some community members wanted the council to include—that is, the statement that Hamas should be disarmed. The word “genocide,” which was used to describe the Israeli military’s campaign, is also absent from the legislation—a categorization that was hotly contested at previous council meetings.
In a preliminary verdict released in January, the International Court of Justice found “plausible” evidence that Israel was infringing on several provisions of the 1948 Genocide Convention. The court did not impose a truce in the conflict, but it did urge Israel to increase supplies to Gaza and stop crimes of genocide. Israeli officials, however, denied these accusations and contended that the South Africans who filed the lawsuit were “weaponizing” the international agreement against genocide.

The resolution instructs City Clerk Nicole Bolden to forward a copy of the bill to President Joe Biden and the Indiana congressional delegation.

On Thursday, President Biden informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel must take action to safeguard civilians and relief workers if the United States is to continue supporting the battle. The Israeli prime minister was pushed by Biden to come to an immediate ceasefire “without delay,” according to the Associated Press.

Piedmont-Smith and Rollo stated in a memo to the other council members that they centered the resolution on humanitarian issues rather than military or political goals.

They said, “We do not claim to know how to resolve the intricate, multifaceted, protracted conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people.” “Our goal is to raise awareness about the unacceptable suffering of starving children, women undergoing surgery without anesthesia, and Gazans of all ages suffering from diseases that could be prevented due to contaminated drinking water.”

The lone Jewish council member, Sydney Zulich, cautioned the public before the first round of public comments to avoid using derogatory language that would imply that one’s Jewish heritage is synonymous with support for Israel’s policies. She said that remarks made in the public comment section on March 27 were likewise damaging to Palestinians.

At the most recent council meeting on March 27, some audience members booed and yelled “shame” at a speaker who said the council should refrain from using “inflammatory language” and that allegations that Israel is committing genocide are baseless. Councilmember Hopi Stosberg expressed her disappointment with the audience’s behavior. Making noise when someone is manning the podium, according to her, prevents the council from hearing what the speaker is attempting to say.

One public commenter argued that it was the audience’s responsibility to boo to show their opposition to bigotry and hate, in response to Stosberg’s request that attendees refrain from clapping, yelling, or booing during public discussion.

Many Zoom speakers used racist and antisemitic remarks during the first public comment period, which allowed the public to voice opinions on topics not on the council’s agenda. Two speakers uttered “Hail Hitler” as their last words.

Later in the conference, during the public comment period on the ceasefire resolution, a different speaker made antisemitic remarks, including assertions that Jews control the media and the government.

Zulich noted that the majority of hate speech, which was racist, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Semitic, took place on Zoom.

Without looking any of us in the eye, it’s simple to spew that kind of venom, according to Zulich.
Refusing to cry, Bloomington Mayor Kerry Thomson addressed these remarks from the platform. She denounced the hate speech and expressed her disappointment and dismay at the remarks. She exhorted Bloomington citizens to confront threats and hate speech.
Thomson stated, “You don’t have to say everything perfectly.” “Just get up and make a statement.”

Thomson declared during the March 27 council meeting that she would not sign any resolutions dealing with matters unrelated to city business. Deputy Mayor Gretchen Knapp told the Indiana Daily Student last week that although she made these remarks during the council’s discussion of a resolution against a state-sponsored water pipeline, they also applied to the ceasefire resolution.
Resolutions that come over Thomson’s desk must be approved or vetoed per the Indiana Code. The resolution will be deemed vetoed and sent back to the council for another vote if she chooses not to sign it. To override her veto, six out of the nine council members must vote.

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