Berkeley council withdraws Israel-Hamas ceasefire resolution

The Berkeley City Council meeting was packed with people who came with signs, deep emotions, and strong opinions about whether the council members should vote on a Gaza ceasefire resolution that had been retracted before Tuesday evening's meeting.

The crowd was so large, many people were not able to go into the meeting.

Some urged the council to join the cities of Oakland and Richmond, which passed ceasefire resolutions.

"We want to end the killing of every child, every child, not just Palestinians, Israeli children too," said Suzanne Anouremeh, a Palestinian American resident who called for a resolution.

Others brought signs calling a ceasefire resolution divisive, saying Berkeley should stick to local issues.

"On October 7, as many of you know, my 19-year-old nephew...was killed in the attack on Israel and still I pray for peace with all my pain and all my heart, but real change doesn't come through resolutions," said Rabbi Yonatan Cohen of Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley.

The Berkeley meeting reflects a growing worldwide divide over what to do about the loss of innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives and concern over hostages in Gaza, all caught in the middle of the fighting between Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu's government and Hamas Militants.

On Tuesday, the United Nations General Assembly passed a ceasefire resolution calling for humanitarian aid.

Of the 193 members, 153 voted in favor. The United States was among 10 countries who voted no, along with Israel, Austria, Czechia, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay.

At a rally in Strawberry Park before the Berkeley meeting, some Palestinian Americans said they are turning to local governments because they feel Washington politicians aren't listening to their calls to find another path to justice and peace.

Cities all over are passing these ceasefire resolutions because it puts pressure on the federal government," said Angelica B., a Palestinian-American Berkeley resident who didn't want to give her last name because she has relatives in Gaza.

The one point of unity was the deep pain people on all sides of the issue in the Bay Area are feeling, seeing violence in Israel and Gaza and feeling instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia here at home.

"Since October 7, I feel increasing fear around being a Jew. On my morning walks I see signs and graffiti calling Jewish people Nazis and Jesus killers," said Tania Schweig, a Berkeley resident who says her sons have been harassed while wearing kippah or yarmulke caps.

Other residents said they have been called terrorists or singled out because of their Muslim backgrounds.

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There were some signs and calls for compassion and dialogue.

At one point during the shouting, two men stood next to each other holding opposing signs but deep in conversation.

Those calling for a ceasefire resolution say they have come up with their own proposal and hope to meet with council members.

Berkeley's Mayor Jesse Aguerrin told KTVU that any resolution needed to have consensus from the Board and he is open to respectful dialogue about the issue.