Israeli soldiers carry the flag-draped casket of reservist Elkana Vizel during his funeral at Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on Jan. 23.
Our city is plagued by real challenges, including a growing migrant crisis, homelessness, and seemingly never-ending violence in every neighborhood. This is where our city’s leaders should be spending their time, energy and resources.
Instead, the City Council on Wednesday will consider a resolution in support of an unconditional cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The resolution is non-binding, but the terms would give a victory to Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Supporters of the resolution appear to be fine with Hamas remaining in power and having time to rearm, as they have said they plan to do to carry out additional Oct. 7-type attacks against Israel.
We all hope for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians that would provide sustainable peace and security. We are supportive of ongoing diplomatic efforts to negotiate a mutually agreed-to pause in fighting that would include Hamas releasing hostages, humanitarian assistance and respite for Gazans. The framework for such a deal is now in the works, according to recent news reports. But this resolution would not serve to constructively advocate for those steps.
Even more, debate around the resolution has fanned the flames of antisemitism at a time when Jews in Chicago are facing unprecedented levels of antisemitic incidents in the city.
While an updated version of the resolution finally mentions (albeit barely) that Israelis have been murdered and taken hostage since Oct. 7, it fails to go into detail about what actually happened on that day, which is critical to understanding the full context of what led to the current war in Israel and Gaza.
At least 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst into Israeli villages on Oct. 7 and butchered innocent men, women, and children in cold blood. Hamas terrorists celebrated their murders by cutting off the heads of numerous victims, an ultimate act of barbarism. Women were brutally raped and mutilated before being killed by Hamas terrorists, a fact that has been well-documented by media outlets around the world. Young Israelis, Americans and others attending a music festival were mowed down by Hamas gunfire, being shot in the back while running for their lives.
Hamas vows to repeat attacks
Let’s be clear: Hamas does not want a cease-fire. It broke a two-year-old cease-fire when it attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Hamas has previously rejected an Israeli proposal for a two-month cease-fire which called for Hamas to release more than 130 hostages they are still holding in Gaza, an increase in humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners serving prison terms in Israel. Hamas’ leadership has also vowed to repeat the Oct. 7 attack as many times as necessary to eliminate Israel.
The resolution also seeks to dilute U.S. influence on the international stage by supporting an override of a U.S. veto in the United Nations Security Council. The U.S. has historically used its veto authority to go after authoritarian regimes and dictatorships, terrorists and other horrible world actors, and supporting this override would put us in the same boat as humanitarian paragons China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Are these really the countries with which we want Chicago aligned?
Lastly, after agreeing to hear South Africa’s specious claims that Israel intends to commit genocide in Gaza, the International Court of Justice recognized Israel’s right to defend itself when its interim ruling on Jan. 26 did not include a call for Israel to cease military operations against Hamas in Gaza. If the ICJ isn’t calling for an unconditional cease-fire, why is the Chicago City Council?
The City Council vote comes after an unprecedented 360% increase in antisemitic acts across America since the brutal Oct. 7 terrorist attack. In Chicago, there’s been a spike in antisemitic propaganda, and graffiti has been found in neighborhoods across the city. Jewish-owned businesses and Jewish elected officials have been targets of vandalism and hateful propaganda.
Protesters at the City Council last week shamelessly harassed the children of Holocaust survivors and disrupted proceedings intended to recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. And protest after protest in Chicago has crossed the line from legitimate criticism of a government to unfiltered hatred of Jews fueled by age-old antisemitic tropes like greed, power and blood.
City Council has already voted once to condemn Hamas. Taking any other position would be downright dangerous.
David Goldenberg is the Evelyn R. Greene Midwest Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Daniel Goldwin is the executive director for public affairs of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago.
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