With a fragile pause in the war in the Middle East, peace advocates brought their concerns and fears to city hall, Monday evening.
At city council Monday night, a resolution “Advocating for a Just Peace in the Middle East” containing 237 signatures was brought to the council.
“The City of Newburgh government can demonstrate that they’re committed to addressing the historical wrongs done to marginalized communities by advocating for a just and peaceful resolution for all affected parties by calling on Congressman Pat Ryan, representing District 18, to sponsor House Resolution 786: Calling for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine, while also promoting peace and the protection of innocent lives in the region, and to work towards a just resolution that addresses the historical injustices and ongoing struggles faced by Palestinians, as well as marginalized communities affected by historical displacement.”
Christopher Omar, one of the co-authors of the resolution, a local filmmaker and a second-generation Palestinian-American, expressed his thoughts prior to Monday night on the situation.
“The ultimate goal is for Pat Ryan, for the City Council to call on Pat Ryan to support a ceasefire resolution. I hope this, you know, comes from a place of peace and just wanting peace,” said Omar. “It’s really bothersome, waking up to these images every morning.”
Zineb Awad, a Human Rights Commissioner for the city and a board member of the Masjid Al-Ikhlas mosque, hopes to see the resolution pass. “I am hoping that the City of Newburgh will pass this resolution. This resolution advocating for a just peace in the Middle East is important because it addresses and links the historical wrongs done to the marginalized groups here in the City of Newburgh, to those in Palestine,” she said. “It’s not about taking sides, or, or anything really, it’s just about peace right now and calling for a ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire.”
Comments from the public called for a ceasefire in the Middle East over a half-hour period.
“I think one question we may ask ourselves is how in this small municipality is this relevant in the world of international affairs but we have power, we have power to apply pressure to those who are elected,” said Anusha Mehar. “We are seeing an absolute terror on the news every single day.”
“Nina Turner, a former elected official says 80% of Democrats support a ceasefire, yet only a handful of Democratic members of our government are willing to call for one,” said Ali Muhammad, founder of Next Step Hudson Valley. “Our leaders should be horrified by the loss of life at the hands of policy via foreign or domestic. People are dying in Gaza due to policy.”
Following public comments, council members thanked the public for coming forward with others expressing support for the ceasefire. Other council members did request amendments to the language of the resolution that was presented that night.
“It breaks my heart to see thousands of people die, and to see that our government has a role in that, I do not want my tax dollars going to a war,” said Councilwoman Giselle Martinez. “There’s no room for anti-semitism, there’s no room for Islamophobia.”
“I want to just be clear about it that I too support and call for an end to the war and an end to the endless cycle of violence,” said Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde.
Mayor Torrance Harvey concluded his remarks by declaring to the public that he would be calling Congressman Ryan the following morning calling for a ceasefire.