Councilman and Mayor Pro Te

Hamtramck, Michigan, made history by passing a resolution pledging to boycott and divest from Israeli companies and any international companies supporting Israeli policies deemed oppressive towards Palestinians. 

Two of the six council members were absent, but four, all Muslim, voted unanimously for Resolution 2024-51, “Declaring Support Of The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement.”  

This movement’s tactics are similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era in that it calls upon international civil society organizations, governments, and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against the Zionist State of Israel.

“As a human, I’m supporting this resolution,” stated Councilman Mohammed Hassan.  “As Americans, what are we doing?  We are supporting the terrorists people to kill innocent kids.  That’s why I’m calling them terrorists,” he added.

Councilman Mohammed Hassan-

The city council resolution, passed on May 28, declared that it opposes “Israel’s anti-democratic and racist attempts to defame anyone who supports BDS and opposes the crimes of the Israeli government …,” and rejects the false accusation that supporting Palestinian rights is anti-Semitic, as it opposes anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.

Council Member/Mayor Pro Tem Abu Musa thanked all students at Columbia University, the University of California at Los Angeles, and across the world, for protesting the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people. “This is genocide. … We have an opportunity to stop this. … We will do everything possible to make Palestine free from the Israeli genocide,” he stated.

In 2021, Hamtramck elected what is believed to be the first all-Muslim city council and mayor in American history. Hamtramck is an incorporated enclave that is surrounded mainly by Detroit. About 25 percent of the city is of Arab descent, most of them Yemeni.

Although two other cities in the U.S., Richmond and Hayward, both in California, voted earlier this year to divest from companies linked to Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians, Hamtramck is worthy of note due to its demographics. Also, the resolutions in the California cities targeted specific companies to boycott, but Hamtramck’s resolution supports the entire BDS movement.

The historic vote came after Israel killed at least 45 people after bombing a refugee camp of displaced Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. On May 26, Israeli occupying forces bombed the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in Rafah, setting ablaze a UN tent camp, which had been declared a safe zone for thousands of Palestinian families. 

Hamtramck Michigan seal

The City of Hamtramck resolved to: 

1) Officially endorse the Palestinian call for supporting the BDS movement until Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights;

2) Make all best efforts to refrain from purchasing goods and services from any vendor that is the target of a boycott or divestment campaign by the BDS movement; and

3) Make all best efforts to refrain investment in the State of Israel and all Israeli and international companies that sustain Israeli apartheid.  Further, it resolved to urge its residents to support BDS by boycotting products from companies that support the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land and defend students on college campuses who have the right to ask for divestment.

Part of why members declared support for the BDS movement is its anchor in principles and advocacy of Palestinians’ elemental entitlement for freedom, justice, and equality, guaranteed for the rest of humanity, and that Palestinians are currently subjected to the Israeli campaign of genocide and starvation, plus the mass erasure of all means of human survival in Gaza.

Millions of Palestinians have lived under Israeli apartheid and denial of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants the rights to return back to homes from which they were uprooted, according to United Nations Resolution 194, the resolution further states.   

“We stand for freedom and justice for the Palestinian people, and we oppose the horrific genocide going on right now in Gaza,” said Matthew Clark, self-identified as a long-time member of Jewish Voice for Peace, a worldwide Jewish-Palestine solidarity organization, during the public comment period.  He was one of three who urged council members to vote for the resolution.