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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Tensions rise in Boston city council concerning Israel-Hamas resolutions

Photo: Kellyn Taylor

In the Boston City Council meeting last Wednesday, Oct. 18. members of the council engaged in a debate surrounding two resolutions regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict that did not end in an agreement. 

Councilor Michael Flaherty offered an initial resolution in support of Israel and its people as well as “those innocent Palestinians suffering as a result of the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas.” The resolution further stated that the Council condemns Hamas, and urges the federal government to take action.

In response to Flaherty’s resolution, Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson proposed a second resolution toward the end of the meeting to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine. Specifically, “[calling] for a political solution guaranteeing freedom, equality, and democratic representation for all in Palestine and Israel is the only way to secure a just and lasting peace,” Fernandes Anderson said.

Flaherty said that his resolution focused on the acts of Hamas and condemned the events that took place in Israel as an elected body. 

Councilor Julia Mejia noted that at a past meeting, a resolution was brought up on the tensions in Cuba, and they were advised to “focus on city business.” Mejia also noted that the situation brings forward “an opportunity to pull this into committee so we can unpack it further, very similar to the treatment that we provided to the conversation around Cuba.” 

Councilor Frank Baker stated that the photos from the Nova Music Festival, where at least 260 Israelis were killed by a Hamas militant attack, speak for themselves. 

“Even if this goes to committee, we need to condemn what Hamas did—not the Palestinian people—what Hamas did,” Baker said. “I don’t need a public hearing. I don’t need anything else. I stand with Israel.” 

Councilor Gabriela Coletta said she believes that all in attendance felt the gravity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the large police presence at the meeting. 

Colletta objected to Flaherty’s resolution, citing that one resolution does not speak to the complexities of the history of the conflict. 

“[There is] an opportunity for us to stand up as leaders of this City, and to show that there’s an ability for a nuanced conversation,” Colletta said.

Coletta’s objection to Flaherty’s resolution terminated discussion on the matter and the vote, which means the resolution was sent to the committee of the whole to have a public hearing on the matter. 

Fernandes Anderson said she believes her councilors are playing into a political agenda by originally bringing the Israel–Palestine conflict to the chamber for discussion.

“I know that people sometimes file things in this chamber, either to hurt colleagues, or to make a certain statement. And it’s pretentious. And it’s horrible…and they’re playing these political games, because you know, it’s campaign season,” Fernandes Anderson said.

Fernandes Anderson also said she believes the issue has only been brought up because it is in the news.

“Get up and oppose all killing of all civilians, of all children. Not just the ones that line up with your political bullshit…you just have to say stop killing all innocent people. You don’t have to be desperate for your campaign for your politics,” said Fernandes Anderson.

Mejia, who was added as the co-sponsor for Fernandes Anderson’s resolution, agreed with the statements made about other councilors in the room playing the political field.

“I have learned a lot in the last year more so than anything else about how people play politics with people’s lives… and I don’t want to engage in that type of politics,” Mejia said.

Mejia supported Fernandes Anderson’s resolution as she believes it “is a pathway towards what we all hope we can do is bring real peace in the Middle East.” 

“I know that sounds a bit cliche, but I think that’s what we need to do,” Mejia said.

Councilor Sharon Durkan opposed a vote for the second resolution because Flaherty’s resolution was not receiving a vote. Regarding the discussion as a whole, Durkan emphasized the duty of the city council members to listen to their constituents.

“I think, for me, as a progressive, I think it’s really important that we look not just at what our colleagues are saying about this topic, but also what our constituents and the people that we care about are saying about the region,” Durkan said.

Durkan went on to read a guest essay titled, ‘Do Not Take Your Mezuza off Your Door’ published in the New York Times by Rachel Timoner, a senior rabbi in Brooklyn.

“Please do not stop doing all the Jewish things you do. Every one of them every Jewish thing you do matters…Right now the left is using an outdated ill-fitting matter of model of colonialism to explain what’s happening in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. It borrows from antisemitic trope, leading to a cruel and dehumanizing view of Israelis and Jews,” Durkan read from the essay.

Baker stated he was not in support of the resolution to have a ceasefire, after previously being in favor of stating support for Israel.

“Those little girls there that were at that rock concert having a fun time that are being raped now. Let’s return them and then we’ll talk about a ceasefire,” Baker said. “I think the people of Israel have every right, every God-given right to protect themselves.”

After Fernandes Anderson gave her final remarks, a protest group who had previously clapped during some of her remarks left the chamber shouting “Stop the Genocide.” 

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DJ Mara, Staff Writer
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