Oakland City Council unanimously passes resolution for ceasefire in Gaza
Supporters of the ceasefire resolution pack the council chambers in Oakland City Hall. | Photo courtesy of Arab Resource and Organizing Center

OAKLAND, Calif. – At a six-hour special meeting Nov. 27, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for an immediate, ongoing ceasefire in Gaza, joining other communities across the U.S. that have passed ceasefire measures, including Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Providence, R.I. and Richmond, Calif. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is to vote Dec. 5 on a similar measure.

The resolution, introduced by Councilmember Carroll Fife, calls for an immediate ceasefire, release of all hostages and unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. It calls for restoration of food, water, electricity and medical supplies to Gaza, respecting international law, and resolving the conflict in a way that protects the security of all innocent civilians.

Its final clause directs that copies be sent to San Francisco Bay Area city councils, the offices of state and national legislators serving Oakland residents, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, urging them all “to take immediate action to use their position and influence to end violence.”

Fife said the resolution was the fourth draft of a measure that “intentionally tried to bring sides together that I’ve been talking with in the Jewish community and the Muslim community, to say, we support life! And in order for a lasting peace to occur, the shootings, the bombings, all these things have to stop … That was the goal of this resolution.”

She said the resolution purposely didn’t condemn Hamas, or condemn Israel, “because we wanted to focus on Love Life and lifting up what we support and not what we condemn.”

Passage followed more than four hours of public comment by over 200 speakers, with the great majority calling for the measure to be passed without amendment. A smaller number called for condemning and removing Hamas. Not only was the City Council chamber packed, overflow rooms at City Hall were filled as well.

City Clerk Asha Reed reported that 86% of more than 1,250 comments sent by email supported the resolution.

Supporters of the ceasefire resolution rally outside Oakland City Hall. | Photo courtesy of Arab Resource and Organizing Center

Among comments, in person and on Zoom:

  • Jonathan Mintzer, a leader in the Jewish Community Relations Council, urged amending the resolution by condemning Hamas and calling for their removal. “As stated in their charter and shown by their Oct. 7 attacks – the deadliest on Jews since the Holocaust – Hamas has no interest in a coexistence,” he said. “I hope you support a real peace by amending the resolution.”
  • Mara Schechter, who calls herself “a proud anti-Zionist Jew” who has been working for years for Palestinian liberation, said she is “not a supporter of the State of Israel. This is a country that was created through massacring and displacing Palestinians, and the carnage of the past two months is now worse than the 1948 Nakba. Please pass the resolution without amendments.”
  • Nicole, who lives in Fife’s district, thanked her “for bringing people together and crafting this resolution in partnership with Muslim and Jewish leaders.” Nicole added, “The federal government should be sending Oakland funding to develop thousands of units of deeply affordable and supportive housing that gets people off the streets, but instead, we’re spending billions of dollars to destroy 42% of all the housing in Gaza, to displace over 1.2 million Palestinians, to kill thousands of Palestinian children? That’s wrong! I hope you’ll stand against it!”
  • Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, who sits on Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council and is board chair of the Interfaith Movement of Human Integrity, said she wants to “support this resolution, which neither condemns Israel nor Hamas but calls for a ceasefire as a first step towards life. This is what is important: that we step towards life and away from the culture of war … Please support this resolution for the sake of all our children!”
  • Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, said the resolution is moderate by design: “What we want is a peace agenda, an end to this war and violence.” There was a moment in time, she said, “when many people called standing against apartheid in South Africa too complicated, when people said civil rights were too complicated … What we’re asking you to do today – not when it is too late – is to support Palestinian freedom and freedom for all people, by supporting this resolution as is.”

Following the hours of public discussion, it was the councilmembers’ turn.

After reading the resolution’s text aloud, Fife told her colleagues, “I want to create a peaceful reality with all of you, regardless of race, religion, class, creed, gender, sexual orientation – I believe we can create that. We need to love each other. That is what Love Life is about,” she said, citing the City of Oakland’s motto.

Councilmember Noel Gallo seconded the resolution, declaring his “full support for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.”

The only changes offered were proposed by Councilmember Dan Kalb, who sought with the support of Councilmember Treva Reid to amend the resolution to condemn Hamas: “Those who fail to condemn the actions of Hamas on Oct. 7 clearly are condoning their action and in fact, inviting them to do this again. That would be unconscionable.”

Kalb’s amendments were voted down, 6-2, and he and Reid joined their colleagues in unanimous support of the Resolution Affirming Oakland’s Love Life Commitment and Support for the Congressional and Worldwide Calls for an Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza.

Said Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, “If we are going to honor our humanity, I believe we have to envision a world where everyone can live in peace and dignity, with equal rights and self-determination. And as you heard from Councilmember Fife, to look forward in terms of what we are for.”

The resolution’s passage followed a series of actions in Oakland in recent weeks, with demonstrators at an earlier City Council meeting demanding a ceasefire and an end to the bombing of Gaza, protesters delaying departure of a ship bearing arms destined for Israel, occupations of Oakland’s Federal and State Buildings, and a shutdown of the Bay Bridge linking the East Bay to San Francisco at the height of the morning commute hour.

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Marilyn Bechtel
Marilyn Bechtel

Marilyn Bechtel writes from the San Francisco Bay Area. She joined the PW staff in 1986 and currently participates as a volunteer. Marilyn Bechtel escribe desde el Área de la Bahía de San Francisco. Se unió al personal de PW en 1986 y actualmente participa como voluntaria.