New York City Council pressed for ceasefire resolution
Demonstrators at City Hall demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the genocide. | Cameron Orr/PW

NEW YORK – A coalition of some 40 peace organizations here organized a 24-hour vigil on Wednesday, February 28 at City Hall to demand the City Council pass a ceasefire resolution. The day started with a press conference on the west side of City Hall Park and then the people marched to the East Side where there was a reading of the names of the more than 30,000 victims of Israeli’s genocidal bombardment and land invasion of Gaza.

City Council members Shahana Hanif, Alexa Aviles, Chi Osse, Sandy Nurse, and Lincoln Restler joined the action. They represented the 14 other council members who have also called for a ceasefire resolution.

Speakers included Rabbi Abby Stein from Rabbis for a Ceasefire, Najla Khass from Mamas 4 A Free Palestine, Karan Mallik from Healthcare Workers for Palestine, and Audrey Sasson from Jews For Racial and Economic Justice.

Numerous community organizers and politicians were present including Jawanza Williams from VOCAL-NY and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Williams linked the ceasefire demand to the broader demand to move the money from military spending to people’s needs stating:

“We are making the direct connection between the deaths and the culpability of U.S.  and New York City tax dollars and funds sent to fund the Israeli military. We do not accept the contention that this is simply a foreign policy issue. This genocide has a direct impact on our local communities.  There are over 50,000 Palestinians in our communities right here in New York City. Every year almost $120 million of city taxes goes to U.S. government military funding of Israel. That is funding that could go towards local needs instead, and our local leaders must speak out.”

Audrey Sasson, Executive Director of Jews For Racial and Economic Justice, similarly made the connection between endless war spending abroad and crushing austerity at home stating:

People demanding a ceasefire unfurled a scroll with the names of thousands of the dead in Gaza. | Cameron Orr/PW

“Israel’s war machine has created ripple effects in our own backyard, whether it is rising violence, silencing, doxing, and defunding of individuals and organizations focused on Palestinian solidarity or the extraordinary sums raised for primary challenges to unseat elected officials for having the audacity to speak up for  Palestinian rights. You do not have to be Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, or, in my case and the case of our members, Jews who say no to an unfolding genocide. You simply need to be a human being who is paying attention.”

All echoed a united call for an immediate ceasefire and advocated a push to introduce an immediate ceasefire resolution into the City Council.

The crowd, more than a hundred, were chanting “Ceasefire Now,” “End the Occupation,” and “Stop arming Israel.”

A successful campaign for a ceasefire resolution in New York City would put significant pressure on President Biden and build off of the successes of dozens of other cities that have successfully passed similar legislation.

Public Advocate Williams condemned the bombing campaign in Gaza, demanding that the “brutality and killings must stop now” and that the movements should “stand up” to end this brutality, while Hanif, the Councilwoman from Brooklyn, called for “demanding a permanent ceasefire and free hostages.”

“If the City Council listens to anyone,” the MC of the event said, “They should listen to the over 99 multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and inter-faith organizations across all boroughs who endorse the call for a #NYC4Ceasefire. Your constituents have made it clear, time is up! We need all of you to speak out now – against warfare and towards ending the suffering of almost 2 million people in Gaza.

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Benjamin Bath
Benjamin Bath

Ben Bath writes from New York City.