Council Calls for Ceasefire in Gaza and Return of Hostages Held by Hamas

Date:

Last night, by a 6-1 vote, the Santa Monica City Council approved a statement that called for peace in the Middle East in the ongoing conflict in Palestine…after listening to over 100 public comments; many of which mischaracterized the resolution as anti-Israeli or antisemitic. At the same time, the Council passed a second resolution offered during the meeting by Mayor Phil Brock calling for more peace and understanding in the city.

Copies of both resolutions can be found at the bottom of this story.

Councilmember Christine Parra was the lone dissenting vote with Brock and Vice Mayor Lana Negrete joining the motion’s authors: Councilmembers Gleam Davis, Caroline Torosis and Jesse Zwick in voting for the resolution.

“In the end, I’m just a father that wants to stop seeing kids die in this conflict,” concluded Councilmember Jesse Zwick, who identified himself as Jewish and a father, after an emotional opening statement. Much of the online chatter and a minority of the comments against the motion were directed at Zwick and claimed the motion would inflame anti-semitism in Santa Monica.

Zwick went on to debunk much of that disinformation and push back that the motion could enflame antisemitism. Zwick noted the motion calls for many things not just a ceasefire, including the return of hostages, an end to Hamas’ rule in Palestine and an end to anti-semitic actions across the world.

Later, de la Torre used a story from his own life in Santa Monica to clarify the issue they faced. He recalled an incident at the Pico Youth and Family Center where a member of a gang asked de la Torre to set up a meeting between him and a rival gang who had just committed a drive-by shooting. De la Torre used this story to talk about cycles of violence, and how if nobody breaks a cycle it can go on forever.

“For us, we have an opportunity to take a stand. We’re not on one side or the other, but we’re on the side of peace,” de la Torre said. “You can’t begin to talk about everything else that comes after, or how you have a lasting peace, if there are bullets flying and people dying.”

“I’m not judging people in these situations,” he concluded after trying to place himself in the shoes of someone who lost a child. “For someone to be hurt and say ‘I don’t want revenge in my name…’ there’s no justice in that. There’s no peace in that.”

Parra, who voted against the resolution, noted that the issue has divided a lot of the Santa Monica community. Even after Zwick added more language to the original text that was proposed by members of the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance community, Parra couldn’t be persuaded to join the motion and make it unanimous.

During his comments, Brock expressed concerns that the cease fire motion, which he characterized as “better than he ever could have hoped for,” would cause more division in Santa Monica. He told stories of visiting Orthodox Jewish temples in Santa Monica, and stories how residents had to witness acts of anti-semitism in the city, and he didn’t want his vote to make those people feel more alienated.

Instead of voting against the resolution, he offered his own motion that focused on the impact that the conflicts have had in the city. Brock’s motion was approved at the same time as the ceasefire motion.

Brock’s resolution, “Fighting Anti Semitism and Islamophobia in Santa Monica,” can be found below the “Final Resolution” below.

Final Resolution.

​​A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA SUPPORTING THE RESUMPTION OF A NEGOTIATED BILATERAL CEASEFIRE IN GAZA AND REITERATING ITS CONDEMNATION OF ALL ANTI-SEMITISM, ANTIARAB RACISM, ISLAMOPHOBIA, AND ALL FORMS OF HATE AND INCITEMENT TO VIOLENCE 

WHEREAS, the horrific slaughter of over 1,000 Israeli civilians perpetrated by Hamas, a US designated terrorist organization, on October 7, 2023, was the largest mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust, and 240 Israeli civilians were taken as hostages; and 

WHEREAS, in response, the ongoing war in Gaza has exacted a catastrophic toll of tens of thousands of civilian Palestinian deaths – including children, medical workers, and journalists; and 

WHEREAS, Gaza’s widespread destruction has created an urgent humanitarian crisis that must end; and 

WHEREAS, further shedding of blood in Gaza and the infliction of more pain and anguish will not bring peace and security to either Palestinians or Israelis, and cycles of violence and retribution in Israel and the Palestinian territories for the better part of a century cannot be broken with more of the same; and 

WHEREAS, we support those forces in Israel and in Palestine that seek a different future for themselves—a democratic future where Israelis and Palestinians both can live in dignity and with self-determination and security for all; and 

WHEREAS, more than 100 U.S. cities have called for a ceasefire, and President Biden and Vice President Harris are actively working towards a negotiated ceasefire. 

2 NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA DOES RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS: 

SECTION 1. The City of Santa Monica supports the resumption of a negotiated bilateral ceasefire, which must include humanitarian aid for the immediate provision of desperately needed food, water, medical care, clothing and emergency shelter to Palestinians, the end of Hamas’s rule in Gaza, due process for all prisoners, and the immediate release of the remaining 132 Israeli hostages taken by Hamas. 

SECTION 2. The City of Santa Monica is appalled by the acts of violence, vandalism and intimidation against the Palestinian and Jewish diaspora in the United States, and reiterates its condemnation of all antisemitism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate and incitement to violence. 

SECTION 3. A copy of this Resolution be sent to the offices of U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler, and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. 

SECTION 4. The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this Resolution, and thenceforth and thereafter the same shall be in full force and effect. 

“Fighting Anti Semitism and Islamophobia in Santa Monica”

Fighting Islamophobia and Antisemitism in Santa Monica

It is resolved that while tragic armed conflicts are occurring in the Middle East, we acknowledge that feelings of hate and despair within our community from these outside events are stirring Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Santa Monica.

Be it known to all that tolerance of all faiths and beliefs are integral to life within Santa Monica and that all faiths and beliefs are welcome here without prejudgment. Further, verbal and/or physical attacks on any member of the Santa Monica community will not be tolerated, no matter their religion, faith, or creed.

Santa Monicans strive for peace in our community and throughout the world. As the City Council, we are responsible for promoting the safety and security of all who live and come here. Tolerance, not intolerance, is the key to peace in our city.

We urge all of Santa Monica’s residents to treat each other respectfully and not judge others based on external factors but as humans dedicated to peace and justice for all other humans.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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