Support for City Council item 10-D on January 2, 2024
Support the Mayor’s Letter Calling for an Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza
To the Editor:
What a breath of fresh air to see the Mayor’s letter supporting a Gaza Ceasefire (Item 10-D) on the City Council agenda for Tuesday, January 2, 2024. I encourage all who support to email the Alameda City Council ahead of the 7 p.m. meeting.
I am a Jewish mother of two school-aged children and a homeowner here in Alameda. I was raised Jewish, in the conservative movement. I was bat mitzvahed and attended religious school through high school. I went to Brandeis University for undergrad.
Without minimizing the very real pain and fear my community is undoubtedly feeling in the wake of October 7th, I have been dismayed to hear so many Jews in Alameda and the Bay Area publicly stand in opposition to calls for a ceasefire in Gaza (see Mayor’s Letter Will Increase Division and Animosity, among others, published in the Alameda Post on December 29).
I strongly support the Mayor’s letter calling for an immediate ceasefire. To date, nearly 22,000 Gazans have been killed, almost half of whom are children. Over half of homes in Gaza have been destroyed, not to mention countless hospitals, schools, and places of worship.
To my Jewish brethren opposing calls for a ceasefire, I ask: as Jews, are we only able to grieve the suffering and death of those who look like us, who pray like us? Is the lesson of the Holocaust “never again for anyone,” or “protect Jews at all costs?” What does it mean to have a Jewish State if, in order to maintain it, we must sacrifice our Neshamah, our Jewish soul, in the process?
Some have asserted that ceasefire conversations are inappropriate at the local level, that it makes people feel unsafe. To that, I say first that Alameda City Council has a long history of carefully grappling with difficult issues, both domestic and foreign. In 2003, City Council passed a resolution against U.S. involvement in Iraq after a packed special public hearing. In 2007, council member Frank Mataresse brought forward a resolution to withdraw our troops from Iraq. Though it ultimately did not pass, it allowed Alamedans to come together to discuss, process, and grieve with each other during a traumatic moment in history. In 2018, Alameda declared itself a “sanctuary city,” and it has been the safe haven for many immigrant and refugee communities from the Philippines, Guatemala, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sudan, and other conflict-torn places.
Second, I will say that, as a Jew, what makes me feel deeply unsafe is the conflation of Zionism with Judaism. It is my belief that Israeli state violence against Palestinians is the number one reason antisemitism is resurgent right now. I say this knowing it will be difficult and painful for some in my community to hear.
Meeting people in Alameda who support calls for a ceasefire has made me feel safer and more connected than ever. I look forward to more dialogue on this matter. I have faith in our wonderful Alameda community to talk about issues that are painful and emotionally charged, to debate and to disagree respectfully. That’s what civic engagement is all about.
Our Leaders Have a Moral Obligation to Speak Out Against Injustice Anywhere and to Stand with Humanity Everywhere
To the Editor:
I want to extend my appreciation to Mayor Ashcraft and her leadership in agendizing a letter that speaks to what a majority of Americans are hoping for—an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
As a Muslim born and raised in the Bay Area, too many instances have hurt and threatened my community in ways that have made us feel isolated and disenfranchised from the greater American public. Whether it was the War on Terror, the Muslim Ban, or any other clear example of hateful Islamophobic rhetoric that is now deeply ingrained in the policies and culture of our society, its normalization is both hurtful and dangerous.
I vividly remember walking through the older layout of South Shore in the early 2000s, on the first day I ever decided to wear my hijab, at 12 years old. Leaving my home, I felt proud and fashion-forward in the outfit I had put together that I thought matched fairly well. I had my older sister beside me, who I looked up to, to confirm and affirm that I did indeed look quite cute. It wasn’t long after we had parked our car and started walking into the plaza, that we were met with threatening stares and mumbling. Not long after that, a group of young adults shouted at us, “There goes bin Laden’s niece!” I felt scared, embarrassed, and small.
I walked in that fear for the next decade, as multiple incidents of hateful slurs and acts continued to be thrown against my family and me. I considered taking my hijab off altogether at one point, to feel more “American,” more “normal”. But I thought, if my mother and sisters can brave the attacks, so can I.
I left South Shore Center that day, thinking and feeling, “Alameda is unsafe for people like me.” I admit, I harbored that feeling for a long time. And it was only when I connected with other Alamedans in the last few months, when we bonded over the solidarity for humanity, that the perception I have long held for Alameda has finally shifted. Today, I do feel safe. And I do feel welcome. And it is because of this letter that Mayor Ashcraft has bravely crafted, that I feel like I can proudly represent my values and my identity without fear of feeling targeted.
Another group still in need of this is our Alameda youth, who are desperately searching for a platform to speak out against injustices without consequence. How do we make them feel safe?
To those who oppose the Mayor’s letter: This is one of many reasons a ceasefire is a local issue. Our leaders have an ethical and moral obligation to speak out against injustice anywhere, and to stand with humanity everywhere, just as most of you did when you put out Ukrainian flags. I ask, what’s different this time? Alameda has already long been rooted in examples of divisiveness. How do we undo that? Call for a ceasefire. Join for justice. Stand for peace.
Editorials and Letters to the Editor
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