‘We’re still San Francisco:’ Board of Supervisors votes in favor of cease-fire resolution in Gaza

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San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday joined a number of California cities and municipalities in voting in favor of a resolution calling for a cease-fire to the hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

The resolution, approved on an 8-3 vote, calls for a “sustained ceasefire in Gaza, humanitarian aid, release of hostages, and condemning antisemitic, anti-Palestinian, and Islamophobic rhetoric and attacks.”

Board President Aaron Peskin and Supervisors Connie Chan, Joel Engardio, Myrna Melgar, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, Ahsha Safai and Shamann Walton voted in favor. Supervisors Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman and Catherine Stefani were opposed.

“I know this resolution, some people think it’s not going to do anything,” Safai said. “It will allow some people in our communities to feel heard and seen for the very first time … in our city.”

The resolution calls for an end to “the targeting of civilians” and estimates that about 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced while hundreds of thousands more “are at imminent risk in Gaza” without a cease-fire. The resolution also acknowledges the danger for the roughly 137 Israelis kept hostage by the militant group Hamas.

Hamas launched an attack Oct. 7 that killed roughly 1,200 people and led to the kidnapping of more than 200. Israel’s response, backed by U.S. funding and weapons, is believed to be responsible for at least 22,000 Palestinian deaths so far.

San Francisco joins fellow Northern California cities Richmond and Oakland in passing resolutions calling for a cease-fire. Richmond is believed to have been the first U.S. city to call for a cessation of fighting, on Oct. 25, while Oakland took action on Nov. 27.

Much smaller Cudahy was the first Southern California city to call for a cease-fire, on Nov. 7.

Leaders in other cities listened to spirited debates but ultimately declined to pass similar resolutions, as was the case in Santa Ana on Dec. 5.

Cudahy’s resolution said Palestinians had “lived under violent and dehumanizing conditions.” Richmond’s resolution accused the state of Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and the war crime of “collective punishment.”

San Francisco’s resolution pointed to the United States government’s role in conflict as it “provides substantial military funding to Israel.”

It also called on “the Biden Administration and Congress to call for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and the release of all hostages.”

“We’re going to start something here today that’s going to take off across cities all over the United States,” supervisor Ronen said. “And if enough of us speak out, President Biden will have to listen.”

No public comment period for the resolution was held Tuesday. Instead, nearly 200 people spoke at Monday’s Rules Committee meeting, and nearly 400 attended the meeting in person during a public comment period Dec. 5, with all but one speaker voicing support for a cease-fire.

“We’ve never seen this level of engagement and passion and so many people coming forward to share their views on this,” said Preston, the resolution’s author. “And it’s not just about people coming in and speaking, it is about people sharing such intensely personal and emotional experiences.”

On Tuesday, chanting, booing and yelling could be heard inside the supervisors’ chambers from a small audience there and a much larger one outside.

Dorsey, who opposed the measure and unsuccessfully attempted to amend the resolution in committee on Monday, was booed the loudest. At one point, the supervisors’ chamber was nearly cleared due to the disruptions.

Dorsey said he could not vote for the resolution because it failed to condemn Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. Its adoption would “send a dangerous and unthinkable message that terrorism works,” Dorsey said.

Similarly, Stefani said she “won’t stay silent about the threat” of Hamas, which she suggested employed sexual assault against women during its Oct. 7 raid.

“I will stand up for women and girls every time, no matter what threats may come my way,” she said. “You cannot call for a cease-fire without calling for the surrender and removal of Hamas and the return of all the hostages.”

After an hour of discussion, applause rang out from the crowd as the board voted in favor of the resolution.

“We stood up even when it was hard, even when we were threatened with political repercussions, which we all have been,” Ronen said. “I just have to say that today is one of those days where it feels like San Francisco is still here. We’re still San Francisco.”



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