The battle for justice in the Chicago City Council, ceasefire and release the hostages Jan. 31
Posted are three columns looking at the hypocrisy of a Chicago aldermen who is more concerned about a foreign country, Israel, than with morality, principle or what’s best for the City of Chicago. The first column looks at the Chicago City Council’s decision on Jan. 31,, 2024 to approve a balanced resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages, which was opposed by Ald. Debra Silverstein. Attached also are two columns detailing the prior battle in which Silverstein blocked a similar resolution and pushed through one commemorating the 79th anniversary of the Holocaust, which Arab Americans supported
By Ray Hanania
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson was forced to cast a vote to break a 23 to 23 vote tie to pass a resolution calling for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to halt the continued massacre of civilians in the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, introduced by Aldermen Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) and Daniel La Spata (1st), also called for “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” which is what “Humanitarian Ceasefire” opponent Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) had proposed.
Silverstein introduced and passed a one-sided City Council resolution on Oct. 14 condemning the killing of the Israelis on Oct. 7, but her resolution made no mention of the thousands of Palestinians who had been killed.
And Silverstein forced the council last week to postpone the “Humanitarian Ceasefire” resolution on Gaza and instead introduced and passing a resolution to commemorate the 79th anniversary of the Holocaust, the horrendous murder of Jews by Nazis during World War II.
Silverstein is Jewish American. There are no Arab members of the Chicago City Council.
More than 30,000 people, mostly women and children, have been killed during the past four months of Israel’s response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 which took 1,200 lives.
The vote to pass the “Humanitarian Ceasefire” Resolution was 23 to 23 with Mayor Brendon Johnson courageously standing up to oppose the continued massacre.
“I condemn the actions of Hamas. But at this point now, I believe we’re at 25,000 Palestinians that have been killed during this war, and the killing has to stop. So, yes, we need a ceasefire,” Johnson said despite verbal attacks.
Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian protestors who shouted at each other during the meeting, were ordered out of the council before the vote was taken, reflecting the heightened emotions caused by the brutal conflict.
The resolution was also backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson,
Many of the aldermen who voted against the “Humanitarian Ceasefire” resolution had spent time in Israel as the guest of pro-Israel organizations.
How anyone could vote against a ceasefire and support continuing the carnage and killing of civilians is absolutely appalling?
ALDERMEN WHO VOTE AGAINST A HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE RESOLUTION:
Brian Hopkins 2nd Ward
Gregory Mitchell 7
Michelle Harris 8
Anthony Beale 9
Peter Chico 10
Marty Quinn 13
Raymond Lopez 15
Derrick Curtis 18
Matthew O’Shea 19
Silvana Tabares 23
Monique Scott 24
Jason Ervin 28
Felix Cardona 31
Scott Waguespack 32
William Conway 34
Gilbert Villegas 36
Nicholas Sposato 38
Samantha Nugent 39
Anthony Napolitano 41
Brendan Reilly 42
Timothy Knudsen 43
Bennett Lawson 44
Debra Silverstein 50
ALDERMEN SUPPORTING THE HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE RESOLUTION:
Daniel LaSpata 1 (Resolution co-sponsor)
Lamont Robinson 4
Desmon Yancy 5
William Hall 6
Nicole Lee 11
Julia Ramirez 12
Jeylu Gutierrez 14
David Moore 17
Jeanette Taylor 20
Ronnie Mosely 21
Michael Rodriguez 22
Byron Sigcho-Lopez 25 (Champion of justice, fairness and against violence)
Jessica Fuentes 26
Chris Taliaferro 29
Ruth Cruz 30
Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez 33 (Resolution Sponsor)
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa 35
Andre Vasquez 40 (Champion of justice, fairness and against violence)
James Gardiner 45
Angela Clay 46
Matthew Martin 47
Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth 48
Marla Hadden 49
City Council blocks Ceasefire resolution to push Holocats commemoration Jan. 24, 2024
By Ray Hanania
The Chicago City Council Wednesday, Jan. 31, will consider a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel’s extremist government and the Hamas extremist organization.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Hamas have been battling each other for more than two decades using violence against civilians and terrorism.
On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas militants attacked and killed more than 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians in a horrendous and despicable act of violence.
But since then, Netanyahu has launched a equally despicable on-going war of revenge targeting civilian neighborhoods, killing 26,000 people including 14,000 women and children.
Both the Arab and Jewish community have been primed for emotion, squaring off to advance their narrow arguments. Only a few are in the center condemning both sides, as I do.
Condemning both sides IS the appropriate thing to do. But the pro-Israel movement has far more leverage with politicians and the American news media than Palestinians. More details of the Oct. 7 massacres are reported than details of the daily, endless violence against Palestinians.
Pro-Israel advocates have used their influence to mute political and media criticism of Israel. They pushed President Joe Biden and Congress to provide $14.3 billion in financial aid and provide the weapons used to kill Palestinians.
Pro-Palestinian advocates have resorted towards massive and disruptive protests because most politicians turn a deaf ear to them, especially Illinois legislators and some Chicago aldermen who have enjoyed trips to Israel sponsored and funded by Netanyahu’s government.
The pro-Arab groups are at a political disadvantage in America, including in Chicago.
The right thing to do would be to approve both resolutions at last week’s City Council. One introduced more than a month ago by Ald. Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez urged a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war. In addition to an ever increasing civilian death toll, Israel’s revenge-assault has destroyed 80 percent of homes and businesses in Gaza.
Many pro-Israel activists are driven by revenge, anger and in many cases hate. if you say that, you are falsely bullied as “anti-Semitic.”
The second resolution commemorated the 79th Anniversary of the Holocaust liberation of Auschwitz. The Holocaust is one of humanity’s greatest horrors, killing more than 6 million Jews during World War II and many Arabs support its passage.
If the issue were just about protecting civilians, both resolutions could have been approved without engaging in a political battle.
But Holocaust resolution sponsor Ald. Debra Silverstein (50) couldn’t stop herself from linking the Holocaust to the Israel-Gaza conflict, falsely saying Palestinian activism is fueling anti-Semitism.
Silverstein never referenced Israel’s horrendous carnage and daily massacres of Palestinians. Pro-Palestinian activists at the council booed Silverstein’s ignorant comment.
Fortunately, Mayor Brandon Johnson and several courageous members of the Chicago City Council including Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez spoke out about the injustice and the killings of Palestinian civilians.
Silverstein got the Ceasefire resolution delayed until this week. And, according to Politico, Silverstein “firmly opposes” the ceasefire resolution and she is working to water it down.
How do you oppose a “ceasefire” in which civilians are being massacred unless you are a human monster of the worst sort?
In her letter to every alderman in the City Council, Silverstein also attacked pro-Palestinian activists who reacted to her hateful comments during last Wednesday’s vote.
They rightly booed Silverstein when she tried to connect the Holocaust resolution to a defense of Israel’s violence against Palestinians, asserting Palestinian activism and the conflict are fueling anti-Semitism.
Silverstein was wrong to weaponize the Holocaust for her selfish, extremist political agenda. Had she even offered one word of compassion for the thousands of Palestinians whom Israel continues to massacre everyday because there is no ceasefire, the tenor of the protestors would have been different.
But pro-Israel activists don’t care about morality, fairness or protecting civilians. They only care about politics and protecting the interests of Israel’s government, a foreign government and country.
Aldermen who allow Silverstein to water down the ceasefire resolution, and who are silent, should be ashamed of themselves.
It’s not justice. It is injustice. It is shameful politics that allows the continued killing of innocent civilians, mostly women and children.
Don’t use your own injustice to close your eyes to the injustice you support against others.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is an ugly conflict and it is truly tragic that Americans have been dragged into this as pawns who, when they express their views, are demonized, vilified and slandered.
Aldermen should pass the ceasefire resolution without Silverstein’s political and one-sided interference because it is the American thing to do.
Chicago City Council members approve “Holocaust” bill and delay vote on Gaza Ceasefire resolution
By Ray Hanania
Chicago — Pro-Israel members of the Chicago City Council on Wednesday (Jan. 24, 2024) introduced and approved a resolution commemorating the Holocaust and argued that another resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza was “inappropriate” and should be delayed.
Although the Chicago City Council has no direct impact on foreign relations or foreign policies, and council “resolutions” have no legal authority and are not “laws,” resolutions do convey a moral expression on major issues of interest to the public.
The Holocaust resolution, introduced by the council’s only Jewish member, Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th Ward), commemorates the 79th year since the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp. The 50th Ward has the largest concentration of Jewish Americans, she said.
Silverstein cited “sensitivity concerns” and convinced aldermen to delay the Gaza ceasefire resolution as the two together would be “inappropriate.” The ceasefire resolution was introduced many weeks before the Holocaust resolution by Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez from the 33rd Ward which has a large Arab and Muslim population.
Pro-Palestinian activists filled the council’s audience chamber and complained loudly during the meeting when Silverstein asserted that a rise in anti-Semitism was related to current events in Gaza, and they were admonished to remain silent. Despite the decision to delay the ceasefire resolution until next week at the Jan. 31 council meeting, several city officials including Mayor Brandon Johnson expressed support for both expressing concerns for increasing Palestinian civilian fatalities in the Gaza war.
“I condemn the actions of Hamas, but at this point now we are looking at 25,000 Palestinian being killed during this war and the killing has to stop. So, yes, we need a ceasefire,” said Mayor Johnson, who is African American.
“But, I can say from a very personal note I know that for Black Liberation that we have had to make statements that maybe not in the media that had an impact. But I am not mayor of the city of Chicago if people weren’t pushing the government to recognize people’s humanity and understand the value of what liberation, what it means for people groups and nations. And so, in this instance, people should be liberated. And I hope that other people follow suit if the City Council is in agreement with my particular position.”
Samir Khalil, Palestinian founder of the Arab American Illinois Political Coalition (formerly the Arab American Democratic Club of Illinois), praised Johnson’s courage to “speak truth to justice” and to “not be afraid of the political pressure and lobbying we see in the heavily one-sided debate” in the mainstream news media.
“How does the Holocaust not have anything to do with urging an end to the killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip? The Holocaust was a great tragedy for the Jewish people involving the murder of Jewish civilians. The ceasefire would address a similar concern, that non-Jewish civilians have a right to life, and that their killing needs to stop,” said Khalil, noting attempts by Silverstein to suggest the Gaza crises was a part cause of “rising anti-Semitism” was “inappropriate.”
“Both resolutions could have and should have been passed together with the same message to protect the innocent.”
The Arab political organization has been hardcore for the past 40 years, founded with the support of leading African American politicians. It has temporarily changed its name in protest of President Joe Biden’s “failure” to prevent the massacre of Palestinian civilians and his support through $14.3 billion in funds and providing munitions, bombs and missiles to Israel which is attacking civilian areas of the Gaza Strip.
Khalil noted some 15,000 Arab Americans including Palestinians, served in the U.S. Military during World War II fighting against the Nazis.
During the meeting pro-Palestinian members of the audience who expressed anger that the ceasefire resolution had been shelved in order to make way only for the consideration of the Holocaust resolution were repeatedly told to be silent during the discussion by several council members.
In the face of those rebukes, several aldermen spoke out on the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and criticized those who reprimanded pro-Palestinian protestors who expressed anger when Silverstein suggested the Gaza war was fueling rising anti-Semitism.
Wearing a black and white Palestinian kiffeyeh around his shoulders, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th Ward, said he supported the Holocaust resolution but stressed he also supported the rights of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Sigcho-Lopez criticized “the behavior of some members of the council” who appeared to suppress the concerns of Palestinians in the audience.
“When such atrocities and war crimes are committed, I do think that some members of the council should have more empathy, and more respect, and more focus on the history of the facts before making such remarks, especially when we see members of the audience who have seen family members killed, brutalized. I wonder what is the decorum when we are watching genocide in front of us as it has happened in the past, so that it doesn’t happen in the future, and it doesn’t happen now,” said Sigcho-Lopez, who added some council members should have more empathy for the killings taking place today in the Gaza Strip.
“So today, to all our city council members, I hope we remember today, and the same words that have been used, to prevent atrocities, to prevent another holocaust, to prevent genocide. It is not anti-Semitic to stand up for human rights, to remember what has happened in the past so we are not seeing these kind of comments in asking for decorum for the same behavior of some of the members of the council that is appalling. So today, I not only rise in support of this resolution, but also making sure that some of the same members of the council who are talking about what is happening in the past that we don’t miss every step to prevent other atrocities just like the holocaust and the thousands and millions of people who honor their lives … so we honor them and remember them and so it doesn’t happen nowhere.”
If the Gaza ceasefire resolution is approved next week, Chicago would be the largest city in America to adopt such a resolution.
Similar ceasefire resolutions have been adopted by many municipalities around the country, but not in the nation’s two largest cities, New York and Los Angeles. Chicago has the 3rd largest population of U.S. cities.
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(Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. This column was originally published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. For more information on Ray Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at email@example.com.)
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