Hamtramck City Council passes resolution demanding boycott, divestment of Israel

click to enlarge Hamtramck City Council is the nation’s first all-Muslim council. - Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling

Hamtramck City Council is the nation’s first all-Muslim council.

The Hamtramck City Council on Tuesday became the first city outside of California to approve a resolution endorsing a movement that advocates for boycotts and divestment to end support for Israel over its brutal attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.

The only all-Muslim city council in the country unanimously approved the measure in support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The idea is to send a strong message of support to Palestinians and “to end the genocide” in Gaza, council members said at the meeting.

The cities of Hayward and Richmond in California passed similar resolutions in January and May, respectively. But those cities targeted specific companies to boycott, while Hamtramck’s resolution went further in support of the entire BDS movement.

Among those in support of the BDS resolution was Matthew J. Clark, a Jewish attorney and longtime member of the Jewish Voice for Peace, the largest progressive Jewish, anti-Zionist organization in the world.

“Supporting the Palestinian people right now is of course not antisemitic,” Clark told the council. “I am a Jewish person, and I stand with the Palestinian people against the genocide going on. I oppose genocide because I’m Jewish — because my people have suffered from the Holocaust, a horrific genocide. For that reason, I say ‘never again’ to anybody, especially the Palestinian people.”

Mayor Amer Ghalib said the time has come for the government to listen to its people.

“Most American people are against the war, but our government of course does not listen to the concerns of the people,” Ghalib said. “It seems like we are ruled by a minority in this country, and that’s a problem. The voice of the people is not being heard.”

Launched in 2005, the BDS movement targets businesses and institutions accused of contributing to violations of Palestinian rights as a protest to Israel’s actions in the Palestinian territories.

In 2016, then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder passed an anti-BDS measure that bars the state from hiring businesses that boycott individuals or public entities of a foreign nation. The legislation, however, does not prevent cities from passing their own BDS resolutions.

On the local level, pro-Palestinian activists set up an encampment at Wayne State University to pressure the school to end investment in Israel-connected companies. Police resorted to force to break up a similar encampment at the University of Michigan.

Since the war began in October, Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed more than 34,500 people.

On May 20, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sought arrest warrants for leaders of Hamas and Israel, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for alleged war crimes. Netanyahu and his defense minister are accused of starving civilians, willfully “causing great suffering, or serious injury,” willfully killing and intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.

In Hamtramck, more than half of the population is believed to be Muslim. In January 2022, Hamtramck became the first city in the U.S. to have an all-Muslim city council.

Hamtramck also became one of the first city councils in the nation to call for a ceasefire in October. In December, the council renamed a stretch of Holbrook Street to “Palestine Avenue” as a demonstration of solidarity with residents of Gaza.

But the council has come under fire for its anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. In June 2023, the council unanimously banned the Pride flag from being flown on public property.

Ghalib and other Hamtramck leaders also began meeting with Republicans, despite the GOP’s opposition to Muslims in the past.

Hamtramck officials were also among the leaders of a movement to vote “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary election in February because of President Joe Biden’s support of Israel.

Source link

Leave a Comment