March 19, 2024

I want to start my weekly column by expressing my personal appreciation to everyone in the community who contacted Pasadena's City Council members and the Mayor to express how they felt about the city possibly adopting a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. The individual city council members heard and considered this immense outpouring of community engagement. On more than one occasion, they shared with me how much they appreciated hearing from the community.


Although in the updates we shared leading up to last night's meeting, trying to prepare those who were planning to attend of what they should expect, nothing could've genuinely prepared any of us for what we witnessed, heard, and experienced. I won't dignify the comments many of us heard during last night's meeting by sharing them here, but know that it was uncomfortable listening to speaker after speaker blame Israel for what is transpiring. It was also clearly evident that those in support of a resolution calling for a ceasefire were using this moment to litigate the past instead of focusing entirely on this moment.


And yet, in the end, through our collective effort, the city of Pasadena DID NOT adopt a resolution calling for a ceasefire and instead unanimously voted to adopt a declaration calling for the immediate release of all hostages and supported the US's ongoing effort to continue its pressure to bring about a bilateral de-escalation of hostilities and a ceasefire.


Although this is being portrayed as a win by those who supported a resolution because the word "ceasefire" was added to the declaration language, our collective voices helped steer the council away from a resolution and issue a declaration instead. It is important to remember that politics is all about negotiations and often finding a middle ground. That is precisely what the Pasadena City Council did last night. We couldn't have had a better outcome at the moment than what the city ultimately voted unanimously to adopt: a declaration… a statement calling for an immediate release of all hostages and supporting the US's ongoing efforts to bring about a peaceful bilateral de-escalation of hostilities.


It is essential to understand that a declaration does not carry the same kind of weight a resolution does. It is merely a statement of what the city believes. In this case, the declaration is meant to support the ongoing efforts of the Biden administration while also calling for the immediate release of hostages.


The tension in the convention center last night was palpable, and the jeers, name-calling, accusations, and outward displays of animosity and hatred toward the Jewish community were prevalent. And, even under these conditions, many of our community members bravely spoke during this contentious meeting.


This ongoing effort to get cities to adopt resolutions is popping up all over Southern California, including many in the greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. I want to assure you that our Jewish Federation will continue our advocacy work on behalf of our community to ensure that other city leaders hear our concerns as the City of Pasadena's elected officials did leading up to and during last night's meeting.