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Outside a building, four posters are lined up: We stand with Gaza; Ceasefire; Genocide is not a Jewish Value; Bring them home

Oakland joins chorus of U.S. cities demanding ceasefire in Gaza

on November 28, 2023

Oakland City Council voted unanimously on Monday to support congressional and worldwide calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and for the release of all hostages. 

“I reject the fact that Oakland is not united,” said Councimember Carroll Fife before the resolution passed. “We stand together on what counts when it counts.”

The resolution, introduced by Fife, evokes the city’s official motto “Love Life” to emphasize the need to protect life and stand united against violence. At the meeting, Fife said the resolution intentionally centers on peace, attempts to depoliticize the issue and bring both sides together.

“It didn’t name the condemnation of Hamas, it didn’t name condemnation of Israel, because we wanted to focus on ‘love life’ and lifting up what we support,” Fife said.

The resolution condemned the rise of antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks in Oakland.

“I want Jewish children to live as much as I want Palestinian children to live, but we’ve got to acknowledge the imbalance and disproportionate death on one side,” Fife said. “Antisemitism and Islamophobia stem from the same supremacist source, so when we condemn one, we condemn both.”

Councilmember Dan Kalb introduced amendments to include the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and to condemn Hamas, but the council rejected them.

“I was very disappointed that my colleagues decided not to incorporate my amendments,” Kalb said after voting for the resolution. “This whole resolution about ceasefire stems from what happened on Oct. 7, and it’s not pointing that out in the whereas section.”

The resolution comes a month after Richmond reportedly became the first U.S. city to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire. But Richmond City Council’s resolution on Oct. 25 went further, condemning Israel.   

As in Richmond, hundreds of people attended the Oakland City Council meeting. Four rooms in City Hall were full of people interested in the resolution. During the meeting, cheers and boos were heard throughout the building as well as outside, with voices chanting “Free Palestine.”

The meeting lasted more than five hours and was mostly dedicated to public speakers, both online and in person. There were also more than 1,200 e-comments on the city’s website. Most speakers and comments supported a ceasefire, and some people called for the resolution to include the amendments introduced by Kalb.

Cheers were heard throughout the building when all councilmembers agreed to support the resolution. 

The resolution adds Oakland to the list of U.S. cities supporting a resolution that was introduced in Congress but has yet to come to a vote. In addition to a ceasefire and the release of hostages, the resolution demands unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza and for the provision of basic needs such as food, water, electricity, and medical supplies. It also calls for the respect of international law.

There is currently a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, which was supposed to end Monday but was extended for two more days.

(Top photo by Agnee Ghosh)

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