CHICAGO—The Chicago City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations, voted to advance a ceasefire resolution in Gaza, due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian war.
Chaired by 33rd Ward Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, the committee’s resolution, passed Dec. 18, calls on the White House and U.S. Congress to push for a ceasefire in Gaza and will head to the full City Council for a vote in January.
According to Chicago’s ABC-7, Cook County, which includes Chicago, has the largest Palestinian population in the Western Hemisphere. If the resolution passes, Chicago will be the first major city to pass a ceasefire resolution.
The resolution, sponsored by 1st Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata, calls on President Joe Biden and Congress to facilitate lasting peace in Gaza starting with a permanent ceasefire and to promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into the area.
The resolution also calls on the City Council to support the United Nations vote for an immediate ceasefire. After the vote, activists and local politicians held a news conference at City Hall.
“Almost 20,000 Palestinians have died as of now, and 8,000 are children. Based on what we know, fewer than eight hospitals are operational, and the 1.6 million to 1.8 million people in Gaza right now, are not only facing genocide, but are facing the daily struggle of dying from preventable diseases,” said Muhammad Sankari of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network Chicago.
“People do not have access to clean water and they don’t have access to basic necessities for life. They are facing the reality of picking their children up from under the rubble every single day. I just want to remind us that Amnesty International wrote a report that recognized that Israel practices apartheid against Palestinian people, that is not just 70 days old but this is more than 70 years old,” he added.
Rabbi Brant Rosen of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council supports the city council committee’s measure and has been outspoken regarding the Zionist movement. “Since Hamas attacked in Israel on October 7, many Israelis have been deeply traumatized, and many Jews across the world as well,” he said.
“Myself and many Jews deeply oppose the vengeful violence that Israel has been waging against the people of Gaza and the Palestinian people in general,” Rabbi Rosen added.
Thaer Ahmad is a South Side-based doctor who serves on the board of MedGlobal. MedGlobal.org describes itself as a humanitarian charitable non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides emergency response and health programs to build resilience among vulnerable communities around the world and their health programs support victims of wars and disasters, refugees, internally displaced persons, and marginalized communities in disaster-affected and low-resource settings.
“What is happening in Gaza is the worst humanitarian crisis we have ever seen. There is international humanitarian consensus, there needs to be a ceasefire, but the work and recovery is going to take decades, and every single day that we delay a cease-fire, more and more Palestinians will be killed, and more and more Palestinians will suffer. There are no sides to this. There are humans, and right now there are humans that are suffering,” Dr. Ahmad said.
Chicago’s 26th Ward Alderwoman, Jessie Fuentes voted “yes” on the resolution. “The situation in Gaza did not begin on October 7. Palestinians have been experiencing colonialism and have been prisoners of the largest open-air prison that we have seen in the entire hemisphere. It is extremely important for us to understand the experiences of Palestinians. Not just in Palestine but in the diaspora. Chicago represents the largest Palestinian community in the country,” she said.
“We are in the moment that history will be defined by what we do, what we say, and what side we stand on. Today I chose to be on the right side of history, and that is to demand the end of colonialism, and that is to demand for the end of occupation, and that is to demand for the end of genocide.”
(Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected].)