It is Election Day in Seattle but District 3 representative Kshama Sawant’s thoughts are on the Israel-Hamas war. Tuesday, the veteran Seattle lawmaker who is not running to keep her seat after ten years serving the city will bring forward a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to U.S. funding for the Israeli military.
It is a heady ask for a city council far from Washington D.C. and with little more than symbolic power but a move typical of Sawant’s decade at Seattle City Hall where she has regularly made international causes part of the local agenda.
Sawant’s office says the resolution to be brought in front of the full Seattle City Council Tuesday afternoon “condemns the Israeli military assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza” and “demands an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, an end to U.S. funding for the Israeli military, the safe release of all hostages, the restoration of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.” The resolution is also intended to affirm “commitment to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in all their forms.”
UPDATE 3:51 PM: City Council chambers exploded with angry yelling Tuesday afternoon after Sawant’s counterparts declined to second her motion to bring the proposed resolution to a vote. Following an extended session of public comment, Sawant was the only member in chambers as she introduced the resolution and called on her “Democratic” counterparts participating remotely to support putting the proposal to a vote. There was no second. Supporters of the proposed resolution yelled angrily at the inaction. With council president Debora Juarez unable to restore order as she ran the council session via video, the chambers was put into recess in an attempt to calm the situation.
Sawant says the resolution was formed out of consultation with activists and “members of Palestinian and Jewish communities.”
“We’ve had direct conversations with people struggling to survive in Gaza, and with their family members in Seattle,” Sawant said in a statement on the proposed resolution. “Socialist Alternative and my office have organized and marched with working people in the streets. This resolution embodies the sentiments and demands we have heard from these and other activists we’ve consulted with.”
In the press release sent from her council office, Sawant lashed out at Democrats as she has increased her criticism of the party as she prepares to step down from the council and shift her focus to the creation of a new national political party.
Resolutions similar to Sawant’s proposal have become a contention on the council with Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen typically abstaining from votes on the non-binding, typically symbolic efforts.
Sawant has called on “working people, community members, anti-war activists, and union members” to speak in support and “urge all Democrats” of the resolution during public comment. The full council meeting begins at 2 PM.
The full text of the proposed resolution is below:
A RESOLUTION condemning the Israeli military assault on the people of Gaza, urging an immediate ceasefire, affirming opposition to islamophobia and antisemitism, and urging Congress to end all military funding to Israel.
WHEREAS, the Palestinian people of Gaza are now facing an unimaginable human catastrophe as the Israeli military, the fourth-largest in the world, invades and imposes a brutal blockade on Gaza; and
WHEREAS, as of November 6, the Israeli military has killed more than 10,000 Gazans, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, and with more people across Gaza believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead; and
WHEREAS, the Associated Press has reported that more than 4,100 of those killed were children, including over 2,000 under the age of 12, and over 600 who were 3 and under; and
WHEREAS, as of November 1, the Israeli military boasted of having dropped 10,000 bombs on Gaza, which averages 72 bombs for every square mile of Gaza, whose entire area is just the size of Seattle, and with The Wall Street Journal reporting at least 45 percent of housing units being destroyed or damaged; and
WHEREAS, since October 7, right-wing Israeli settlers supported by the Israeli military have killed 115 West Bank Palestinians, injuring another 2,000, and forcibly displacing nearly 1,000 others from their homes, as reported by The New York Times on October 30; and
WHEREAS, the Israeli state is engaging in collective punishment of ordinary Palestinians in the wake of the brutal October 7 attack where Hamas, killed 1,400 Israelis, including children, women, the elderly, and other civilians, as well as Bedouins and other Arab-Israelis, injured another 3,500, and took over 200 as hostages; and
WHEREAS, while the Palestinian people have the right to self-determination, and people living under occupation have the right to resist and to defend themselves with force, attacks on civilians such as Hamas carried out are horrific and do not further the safety or liberation of the Palestinian people, but, instead, undermine it by providing a pretext for disproportionate retaliation by the Israeli state and deepening divisions between ordinary Israelis and Palestinians; and
WHEREAS, on October 9, before the intensified bombing and attacks on Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly”; and
WHEREAS, due to the appalling approach of collective punishment by the Israeli state, Palestinians are rapidly running out of food, water, medical supplies, electricity, fuel, and other humanitarian aid, with the most vulnerable people suffering the most, for example with 50,000 pregnant Gaza women unable to access even basic care and with thousands more mothers with newborns placed in similar dire circumstances; and
WHEREAS, the Israeli government has cut off the sole water pipeline to Gaza, along with the fuel and electricity that power water and sewage plants, bringing the risk of further deaths and waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery; and
WHEREAS, while Israeli citizens have the right to defend themselves against all forms of violence, the Israeli state’s violent policies of occupation, annexation, and apartheid are root causes of the current crisis. The Israeli government’s response has been completely disproportionate, racist, and dehumanizing of the Palestinian people; and
WHEREAS, Israeli Knesset (Parliament) member Revital Gottlieb, a member of the governing political party, Likud, wrote on social media, “Bring down buildings!! Bomb without distinction!! Stop with this impotence. You have ability. There is worldwide legitimacy! Flatten Gaza. Without mercy! This time, there is no room for mercy!”; and
WHEREAS, Israeli Knesset member Ariel Kallner has called for a second Nakba – “catastrophe” in Arabic – stating, “Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of ’48. Nakba in Gaza and Nakba to anyone who dares to join! Their Nakba, because like then in 1948, the alternative is clear,” and in calling for another Nakba, Kallner and other Israeli leaders are referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in 1948 by militias, resulting in the killing of thousands of Palestinians, the destruction of their villages, and the forcible expulsion of 80 percent of the Palestinian population from their homeland, with many of the descendants of the Nakba living today in Gaza; and
WHEREAS, since the original Nakba in 1948, there has been an expansion into Palestinian lands by the Israeli state, during which time the Israeli state has repeatedly been found by international bodies to have violated the rights of the Palestinian people, including but not limited to United Nations Resolution 242 (1967), United Nations Resolution 446 (1979), and United Nations Resolution 2334 (2016); and
WHEREAS, even while mourning the tragic deaths of Jewish Israelis, many Jewish people and others in Israel and around the world are outraged at the Israeli government’s violent retaliation. For example, Noy Katsman, whose brother Hayim Katsman was a former resident of Seattle who had returned to Israel and was killed by Hamas, told CNN that Israeli military retaliation “never brings us better lives, it just brings us more and more terror”; and
WHEREAS, the Israeli state’s occupation of the Palestinian people has been with the full support of U.S. imperialism and other Western imperialist nations, with the Congressional Research Service reporting more than $114 billion in U.S. military funding for Israel since 1946; and
WHEREAS, the political and military support from the U.S. and other Western nations enables the escalation of violence and the policy of occupation and annexation, undermining the personal security of ordinary people on all sides of the conflict; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. government provides Israel over $3.2 billion in military aid every year, and Congress is currently considering providing the Israeli government an additional $14 billion in military aid to increase the violence in Gaza; and
WHEREAS, since October 7, Jewish and Palestinian community members, along with other community members, in growing numbers have joined in peaceful protests by the thousands in Seattle, joining similar and larger protests in cities nationally and worldwide in calling for an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, a halt to U.S. military aid to Israel, and an end to the Israeli occupation of and control over Palestinian territories; and
WHEREAS, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, comprising 31 unions in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza, has called on “our counterparts internationally and all people of conscience to end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes—most urgently halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as all funding and military research. The time for action is now—Palestinian lives hang in the balance”; and
WHEREAS, unfortunately, in many cases locally and across the United States, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, and Palestinian community members who have taken part in peaceful protests against Israel’s war on Gaza have experienced harassment in the form of doxxing, smear campaigns, and threats of violence, including instances of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism; and
WHEREAS, on October 14, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy near Chicago, Wadea Al Fayoume, was stabbed to death by his family’s landlord in what is being investigated as an Islamophobic hate crime; and
WHEREAS, Seattle is home to many people whose families have been impacted by this violence, with victims in Israel, Gaza, and the occupied West Bank; and
WHEREAS, a 2021 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief found that discrimination and hatred towards Muslims has risen to “epidemic proportions”; and
WHEREAS, the Seattle City Council has long gone on record as opposing both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism; NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE THAT:
Section 1. The Seattle City Council joins with others worldwide in condemning the Israeli military assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza and demanding an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian aid to help the Palestinian people recover, the release of all hostages on both sides, and an end to the Israeli occupation and subjugation of Palestinian lands. The Seattle City Council condemns both the methods of terror used by Hamas and the state terrorism of the Israeli government. The Seattle City Council affirms the right of all people to engage in peaceful protest without threats or intimidation.
Section 2. The Seattle City Council affirms its commitment to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in all their forms. The Seattle City Council affirms its support for the people of both Israel and Palestine to live in peace and security.
Section 3. The Seattle City Council opposes all U.S. military aid to Israel, and believes those billions of dollars in military resources are enabling this war and occupation, and greatly exacerbating the violence in the region. The Seattle City Council urges the U.S. Congress to oppose further funding for the Israeli military and requests the Office of Intergovernmental Relations convey this position to Seattle’s Congressional delegation.