Nearly 20 organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace Twin Cities and IfNotNow MN, have signed on to a proposed Minneapolis City Council resolution in support of a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, supporting Palestinian human rights, and “urgently needed humanitarian aid.”
The resolution, authored by Minneapolis City Council Member Robin Wonsley and signed on to by Councilmembers Aisha Chughtai, Aurin Choudhury, Jeremiah Ellison, Elliot Payne, Jason Chavez and Katie Cashman, will be introduced Monday, Jan. 8 at the first city council meeting of the year.
The resolution is in response to Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Hamas, the Iranian-backed terrorist group that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped nearly 250 on Oct. 7, 2023.
At a Friday morning press conference, Choudhury and Chughtai were joined by multifaith, multireligious coalition of supporters.
“It is with great reverence that I call on our City Council to pass this resolution in support of a permanent ceasefire and Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, an organizer with JVP and a member of the group Rabbis for Ceasefire. “With these words, with this resolution, we join a growing number of cities who are putting pen to paper and saying ‘ceasefire now.’
“A majority of our city council members have indicated support for this resolution. You will find a moral document a call to tell the truth about what’s happening in Gaza and Israel.”
However, the final draft of the resolution wasn’t made available to the media or public before publication, and Mayor Jacob Frey, who held his own news conference Friday afternoon, didn’t know what the resolution said.
“Rather than talking with me as a mayor or me as a Jew, it was left to be discussed in a press conference,” said Frey, who is the second Jewish mayor of Minneapolis. “I have seen a few tidbits and my concern is any resolution is any message that picks and chooses what history to follow and what history to ignore. It picks and chooses what people to make victims, and then who else to demonize.”
“Issues that are as important as this with this kind of magnitude and scope, as Mayor — regardless of my faith or background — expect to be consulted. But even more so as a Jew.”
Frey, who spoke with Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Temple Israel Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, and local community member Iola Kostrzewski, said there are resolutions that he would support, including one calling for an end to atrocities, supporting Palestinian and Israel citizens, and calling for a return of hostages.
“It is not mutually exclusive to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine,” Frey said. “You can be supportive of the State of Israel and simultaneously disagree adamantly with the administration that is running the government.”
Chughtai and Choudhury said that their resolution does call for a return of hostages.
“We believe that ceasefire is an important and necessary step to ensure the safety and release and return of all remaining hostages,” Choudhury said.
Hunegs said that the speakers at the earlier press conference did not mention Hamas.
“This is the organization whose charter calls for the eradication of Israel, killing the Jews,” Hunegs said. “They are the ones that perpetrated the massacre on October 7.”
At the first press conference, several speakers, including Rosenberg and Council on American Islamic Relations Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, called Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza a genocide. Hunegs said that was shameful.
“One can argue with the tactics and the strategy of Israel…or the IDF,” Hunegs said. “One cannot assert with any sort of straight face that Israel is out to destroy the Palestinian people. Quite the opposite.
“Do terrible things happen? Yes. Will Israel admit when they’re wrong? I hope so. But the bottom line is, an accusation of genocide against Israel is wrong, it’s blood libel, and on top of everything else, turns fact in history and its head when you’re talking about Hamas, whose own charter affirms that its goal is to destroy Israel, as well as the Jewish people.”
Both Zimmerman and Frey mentioned how this resolution – likely the first that the newly elected city council works on – does nothing to fix some of the real issues the city is facing.
“I have spoken about homelessness and hunger, religious diversity and interfaith dialogue, all to support the city I love,” Zimmerman said. “I am distressed and disappointed to hear about this resolution. From my vantage point, we have enough work here. I look forward to partnering to stop car break-ins when my congregants come to worship and to learn, to fighting gun violence that is ravaging our city to fight real and find real solutions to the crisis of homelessness and hunger in our city. There are real emergencies right here that need press conferences, resolutions and coalitions. we are proud to be part of the city, and there is a lot of work to be done. I look forward to doing that work with our city council.”