Following weeks of protests denouncing Israeli genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 27 to demand an immediate cease-fire in the conflict.
The resolution called for release of hostages and unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The City Clerk reported that the resolution had the support of 86% of the 1,284 comments submitted online, along with a clear majority in the Council chambers. Many speakers urged the Oakland Council not to agree to any amendments, and no amendments were approved.
“One Palestinian speaker said they had lost eight members of their family due to Israel’s bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza,” stated a report on Oaklandside.org. Local authorities reported 1.6 million people, or 75% of Gaza’s population, have been displaced and approximately 14,000 people killed. UNICEF said about one-third of the dead were children.
Berkeley mayor tries to squelch public comment
The neighboring city of Berkeley, California, also discussed a “cease-fire in Gaza” proposal in their City Council session on Nov. 29, but a different scenario unfolded. The mayor, Jesse Arreguín, used a different approach in dealing with the passionate crowd — by simply cutting off microphones as soon as any speaker’s pro-Palestinian sympathies became apparent.
Members of the crowd reminded us that Mayor Arreguín was the recipient of a sponsored junket to Israel in May of 2022, along with other U.S. office holders and opinion makers recruited by a pro-Israel group in the United States. Arreguín has ambitions for higher office, including a run for state senate in 2024.
Richmond affirms solidarity with the Palestinians
Earlier this year, on Oct. 24, the nearby city of Richmond, California, said it “stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people of Gaza, who are currently facing a campaign of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment by the state of Israel.” The City Council resolution said collective punishment “is considered a war crime under international law.”
This resolution said “approximately 2 million people in Gaza may soon run out of drinking water and all medical care.” The resolution also called for “an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and the safe passage of substantial humanitarian aid to Gaza,” release of hostages, and “an end to Israeli apartheid and the occupation and blockade of Palestinian land by Israeli military forces.” The resolution was forwarded to the Council by Mayor Eduardo Martinez.