Both Sides Passionately Express Their Views on Middle Peace at Council Meeting

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In a microcosm of the divide that exists in Israel and Palestine, hundreds of Davis residents turned out to Davis City Hall on Tuesday night to express their opinion and take a side on a resolution that was designed by Councilmembers Stephen Souza and Lamar Heystek to bring people together, to take no sides, and quite simply to call for a cease fire, a cessation of violence, to condemn the attacks on both sides, and to allow for the humanitarian aid.

However, this would not be a night for compromise or peace. Instead, a large number of Muslim and Middle Eastern UC Davis students called on the council to support a resolution while a smaller but vocally just as a passionate number of Jewish residents of Davis called on the council not to pass the resolution.
The Jews, largely a collection of more conservative and pro-Israeli Jews, condemned the city council for what they called moral equivalency. They argued passionately that there can be no peace so long as Hamas, a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel, is in control of Gaza. They were passionate about their views.

The incident even inspired Political Science Professor Emeritus, Alex Groth, a holocaust survivor and 47 year resident of Davis to make his very first visit to the Davis City Council.

There were a small handful of more liberal Jews led by people like Jonathan London and also represented by Councilmember Sue Greenwald who called for peace. Councilmember Greenwald gave an impassioned statement for peace. For that, she earned the score of the more militant and conservative members of the Jewish community, who at one point cornered her outside the chambers and suggested she was a “self-hater.”

Many criticized the board for responding to the large number of Muslims who attended the council meeting last week calling on a resolution. They suggested that the subcommittee had listened to only one side.

However, from what I understand, Councilmembers Souza and Heystek talked to a large number of people and attempted to craft what was a very difficult document.

It became increasingly clear that there was a sharp divide in the room. And that cooler heads could have brought people who live in this community and shared very diverse viewpoints together.

The council ultimately pulled back the resolution, realizing that what they believed could unite the community had actually divided the community.

The council then unanimously moved to have the Human Relations Commission take up the issue and work toward a community forum where people from all sides can come forward and express their views.

On the one hand, it was clear that this proposal was doomed from the start given the sharp viewpoints in the room, on the other hand, it was a great exercise in democracy. Both sides at times heatedly and passionately aired their viewpoints, but for the most part the debate was civil, it was marred by very few lost tempers and other than a brief but alrming incident outside, remained relatively peaceful on both sides.

The students learned a great lesson in civics about the democratic process. This evening on Vanguard Radio, KDRT 95.7, join us as the Vanguard talks to several of the students involved in these events. You can call in at 792.1648 and listen on the net at KDRT.org.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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13 thoughts on “Both Sides Passionately Express Their Views on Middle Peace at Council Meeting”

  1. Not in my name

    …From Haaretz, Israeli daily newspaper.A big shudder on the wingBy Haaretz EditorialAround two weeks after the start of fighting in Gaza, there are only vague reports on Israel’s success in damaging Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure. On the other hand, statistics on the harm done to civilians accumulate. More than 800 Palestinians have been killed and around 3,000 have been wounded, an overwhelming majority of them from air strikes. According to UN figures.* *UN casualty figures use women and children deaths as …civilian… casualties.Alongside reports on the number of dead and injured are reports of doctors being denied entry, the inability of aid groups to reach refugees and give them food, and a serious shortage of medicine and supplies. Blame does not rest with the Israel Defense Forces for all these issues. Hamas and other Palestinian organizations deliberately fired at a food convoy heading to Gaza because it sought to enter the Strip through a different crossing than what Hamas had desired. Hamas also liquidates its adversaries at home and is not ready to adopt the Egyptian cease-fire initiative. But these cannot serve as a pretext for a cruel, all-out war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians.Yesterday Israel announced, by dropping leaflets into densely populated areas in Gaza, that it plans to escalate its military operation. This stirs concerns that, similar to what occurred during the Second Lebanon War, the reason for going to war has been forgotten and replaced by an unrealistic desire to topple the Hamas regime in the Strip. If a few years ago the public cried out in protest over the bombing of a home in Gaza and the statement by former pilot and chief of staff Dan Halutz, who said he felt a …slight shudder on the wing… when he bombed a house, today it responds indifferently, even satisfactorily, to the harming of Palestinians. The lessons of previous wars, during which the IDF destroyed infrastructure targets and the homes of civilians but did not gain the quiet it had sought, have not been internalized. Israel’s justified rationale in acting against rocket launchers has been increasingly damaged over two weeks. The legitimacy and understanding extended to Israel melt away amid the pictures of killing and ruin. Accusations of war crimes are already being bandied about in Israel. This war needs to move immediately to the diplomatic track and agreements that will end the fantasies and delusions of both sides.This editorial represents a politically impotent, small minority of the Jews in Israel. SUPPORT SANCTIONS, BOYCOTTS AND DIVESTMENT TO BRING THE ISRAELI ELECTORATE TO THEIR SENSES.

  2. Mitch Mifkin

    Ah, the City Council…Like the U.N., but without interpreters. I hope the City decides to send peace-keeping forces to Gaza at the next meeting. I also hear our ‘coalition of the willing’ (sister cities) will be sending additional troops. We may need a special assessment to pay for the additional troops, so vote Yes on Measure G! Protesters have already gathered to express their dismay at the Covell Village site being used to stage ground operations, and the Vanguard will be embedded with the troops to report unfiltered news from the front. But will we be able to protect the home front, where we still suffer daily missle attacks from Dixon? Meanwhile, Humus, the radical vegetarian group, has promised that ‘our tofu will be spilled on the streets’.These are trying times…

  3. Not in my name

    From today’s Guardian* frontpage, *British daily newspaper…So far, 1,010 Palestinians have been killed, among them 315 children and 95 women, Dr Moawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza’s medical emergency services, told the Guardian. The number of injured after 19 days of fighting stood at 4,700, he said…..The head of the international committee of the Red Cross described the situation in Gaza as …shocking… after visiting a hospital in the territory….I saw this dramatic humanitarian situation. There’s an increasing number of women and children being wounded and going to hospitals,… Jakob Kellenberger said later in Jerusalem, the AFP news agency reported.

  4. Blog Administrator

    Not in my name:What you are doing is putting copyrighted material onto this blog. That could present us with liability. In the future excerpt from the article and then link the rest.Thanks.

  5. Bushs Fist

    …Many criticized the board for responding to the large number of Muslims who attended the council meeting last week calling on a resolution. They suggested that the subcommittee had listened to only one side.However, from what I understand, Councilmembers Souza and Heystek talked to a large number of people and attempted to craft what was a very difficult document….I think you are missing the boat here. The city decided to do something after hearing from the palestinian supporters first. Furthermore, the pro-Israel side is upset because the city council is passing a resolution for peace at a very politically selective time. They are arguing that peace should have been called for when Hamas was firing rockets for weeks , not when Israel fights back and starts winning the battle. To do so favors Hamas.And who is kidding who. As soon as Israel withdraws, Hamas will fire more rockets. That is a reason not to cease fire. So I don’t support a cease fire whatsoever. I believe in peace. What I do not believe in is peace by letting our enemies walk all over us. This is what the Davis Peace Coalition supports, and refuse to join that.

  6. Against Tilting

    If the city wants to hold a forum on these issues, to allow people to spout off, fine. But don’t take up City Council time with this nonsense. Because Mayor Asmundson selectively and hypocritically allowed an extended amount of time for speakers to go way beyond their allotted time, and allowed many to speak twice, city business was not conducted but tabled. The issue of the city budget got lost in the shuffle of foreign affairs, and foreign affairs is subject matter which is NOT WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE CITY COUNCIL.Furthermore, for a subcommittee of Councilmembers to attempt to draft a resolution, when they are not privy to intelligence information, but only know what they read in the newspapers, is the height of arrogance and folly. The Middle East has been a problematic tinderbox for centuries, and is a vastly complex issue far beyond the scope of understanding of the average U.S. Congressman, let alone members of a little itty bitty City Council.All that has resulted from this mess is a polarization of the community, which will now be attempted to be undone by holding forums for venting. Additionally, proper process was circumvented, in that no notification and discussion of what the City Council should do in regard to the Gaza issue occurred prior to hearing both sides. Had I known about the City Council’s decision to put forth any kind of resolution, I would have hotfooted it down to the City Council chambers, and told them to stick to city business, and not waste time on futile gestures.Does anyone really think a resolution passed by our City Council will bring peace in the Middle East? Former President Jimmy Carter tried shuttle diplomacy for months, wasted all sorts of gov’t time on this very issue to the detriment of his country’s domestic policy or lack thereof, then supposedly brokered peace – only to have it all go for naught when one of the parties to the peace treaty was assassinated. It should be noted Carter was a one term president. The people spoke w finality in regard to what they thought about his idea of taking up gov’t time to broker peace in the Middle East to the exclusion of other gov’t business. Don Quixote and tilting at windmills comes to mind!Just as an aside, peace at any price is not peace – but furthers hostilities in one way or another – as Carter found out to his cost. The City Council would do well to take heed of his experience.

  7. David M. Greenwald

    …Does anyone really think a resolution passed by our City Council will bring peace in the Middle East?…Is that the only end that justifies the civic activism?At a fundamental level Souza was right last night when he said that the city council is the closest connection that citizens have between themselves and their governance. It is the easiest point of access.The Senate passed its own resolution. They do have powers to act, however the resolution was simply symbolic and will also make no difference for peace.I don’t think that’s the standard by which we can judge political action.

  8. Rich Rifkin

    I strongly second the first three paragrapsh written by …Against Tilting… above. Especially this part: …But don’t take up City Council time with this nonsense. … city business was not conducted but tabled. The issue of the city budget got lost in the shuffle of foreign affairs, and foreign affairs is subject matter which is NOT WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE CITY COUNCIL….However, I have some issues with the last two paragraphs:…Former President Jimmy Carter tried shuttle diplomacy for months, wasted all sorts of gov’t time on this very issue to the detriment of his country’s domestic policy or lack thereof, then supposedly brokered peace – only to have it all go for naught when one of the parties to the peace treaty was assassinated….Although it’s a cold peace, the Camp David Accords succeeded — there have been no more wars between Egypt and Israel since Carter’s deal was signed 30 years ago. That’s no small accomplishment, considering they fought four wars in the 30 years which preceded the CDA.A secondary benefit has been to allow Egypt to serve as a mediator between Israel and hostile Arabs. That’s an important role, given that direct relations are politically impossible at this point….It should be noted Carter was a one term president. The people spoke w finality in regard to what they thought about his idea of taking up gov’t time to broker peace in the Middle East to the exclusion of other gov’t business….I believe Carter's failure to be reelected had three more important causes unrelated to his peace efforts: 1) high inflation/high interest rates; 2) liberal/leftist Democrats abandoned him; and 3) he was a bad salesman for his own cause.By appointing Paul Volcker, Carter did more to curb inflation, which did spiral out of control in the Ford/Carter years. But he was given no credit for this, as Volcker's monetary restraint did not calm the inflation before Reagan defeated Carter.The principal reasons that Teddy Kennedy and other left Democrats abandoned Carter was because they believed Carter's domestic policies were too conservative — particularly his widespread economic deregulation. (Ironically, by the 1990s conservative Republicans credited and liberal Democrats blamed Ronald Reagan (not Carter) for deregulation, especially when the S&L crisis took place. But it was almost all done under Carter, including new laws which allowed S&Ls to compete on interest rates and so on.Perhaps more important than the facts was Carter's ineptitude as a salesman. He could not project confidence; and America perceived that to mean he was not up to the job. Carter, of course, did have some real failings as president, such as the Iran hostage situation. But that was arguably less disastrous than Reagan's debacle in Lebanon. The difference was Reagan sold himself as being in charge, being in control, and able to lead the country to a better place. Carter made America feel less confident by his demeanor and discomforting words.

  9. Anonymous

    It is a confused council that takes up these issues. It is not their job to comment on foreign affairs. They have enough challenges to take on without indulging political theater which is all this was.

  10. A Rose By Any Other Name

    …Although it’s a cold peace, the Camp David Accords succeeded — there have been no more wars between Egypt and Israel since Carter’s deal was signed 30 years ago. That’s no small accomplishment, considering they fought four wars in the 30 years which preceded the CDA….Right, no more wars but lots of support for terrorists! I would say that is a distinction without a difference…

  11. Rich Rifkin

    …Right, no more wars but lots of support for terrorists! I would say that is a distinction without a difference ……Not lots. Egypt has an imperfect record when it comes to …support for terrorists,… but compared with most other Arab governments, the Cairo dictatorship is angelic.Egypt has been fighting against the terrorist/Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (the group which created Hamas), ever since the Brotherhood murdered Anwar Sadat.Egypt does not support Hamas, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah or to my knowledge any other terror group*. It’s fair to criticize Egypt for doing a poor job of controlling the flow of Iranian and Syrian weapons into Gaza. But that failing is more reflective of the incompetence of the Egyptian government than it is a reflection of its policy preferences.* I am ignorant of Egypt’s policies vis-a-vis the Islamist government in Sudan. I would be surprised to learn that Mubarak has aided Khartoum. But if he has, that’s a mark against him on the terror scorecard.

  12. Anonymous

    Egypt and Jordan depend completely on the US for their very existence; both nations would immediately economically implode without a continuous flow of US aid; their leaders(both autocrats) dance to whatever the current US …tune… is when it comes to Israel while mouthing the requisite support for the Palestinians to dampen their citizen’s rage in the streets.

  13. Anonymous

    What is the commom thread from middle eastern countries? They all promise destruction of Israel. Do any of the faces you see at the council meeting complain about daily rockets into Israel over many years? Not one. No one on this earth owns anything. We only have temporary custody of it. Let us not pass on the stupidity, to the next generation, that war represents. Do I really think Hamas and all the other haters in the world will do this? They will not be satisfied until everyone they hate is dead. They do not realize that they will be included. To all idiots, I salute you in your self destruction.

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