Advocates say it’s a local issue too
By Lina Fisher, 1:41PM, Fri. Jan. 19, 2024
Advocates gathered at City Hall to urge City Council to adopt a cease-fire resolution (Provided by Sidney Hollingsworth)
As the White House has continued its support of Israel amid what humanitarian experts around the world have called a genocide in Gaza, advocates have been steadily convincing city officials around the country to adopt resolutions calling for a cease-fire, in an attempt to send a message to the Biden administration.
Oakland, Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, and more than 30 other cities have adopted cease-fire resolutions. Austin still hasn’t, despite constituents packing multiple Council meetings since October, and resolutions from the city’s Human Rights Commission in November and the Asian American Quality of Life Advisory Commission earlier this week.
In December, Council Members Vanessa Fuentes, Zo Qadri, and José Velásquez released a joint statement in support of a cease-fire, writing, “Whether it be Palestinians, Israelis or Austinites, innocent civilians deserve to live in peace … we must see the immediate release of all hostages and a permanent cease-fire.”
Other Council members have been reluctant to join them; ahead of public comment at this week’s Council meeting, CM Chito Vela addressed the chamber: “I personally support a cease-fire … however I do not want this Council to become embroiled in foreign policy matters. These are far beyond our purview as a local government and we have too many local critical issues that demand our attention.”
Advocates for a cease-fire shot back at Vela during their testimonies. “This is a local issue because your constituents are here telling you that it is, so why the hesitation?” asked Zack Schlosberg. Another speaker, Tora Cook, referenced Mayor Kirk Watson’s October 8 statement, which expressed support for Jewish constituents without mentioning Palestinians: “You made a public statement supporting the safety of the Jewish community. You expressed empathy for loved ones in Israel. You made the issue of Israel and Palestine a local one, and immediately served one group within our community. But you have not served the Palestinian community. Your job is to serve everyone.”
The local organization Palestinian Solidarity Committee is organizing another statewide march on the Capitol calling for a cease-fire Sunday, February 4 at 1pm, starting from Congress Ave. Ten thousand Texans, many busing in from across the state, marched at their last statewide protest in November.
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