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San Francisco Supervisor Calls for City to Adopt Gaza Cease-Fire Resolution

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A large group of people holding signs in an outdoor urban setting.
Thousands of demonstrators march in downtown San Francisco on Nov. 12, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston will introduce a resolution at this afternoon’s Board of Supervisors meeting calling for a cease-fire in Gaza as well as for the release of all hostages — a proposal that’s already getting pushback from some Jewish groups and is sure to attract a passionate public response.

The three-page resolution, which Preston said was crafted with input from multiple stakeholders in both the Jewish and Arab communities, condemns antisemitic, anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic rhetoric and attacks.

Preston said that after feedback from numerous communities, it also includes a specific reference to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

But it doesn’t include an explicit condemnation of Hamas.

“The focus was on trying to really address the situation in the moment and focus on bringing folks together and toward a goal of saving lives and not trying to, you know, assign relative blame, not trying to advance sort of different visions of long term solutions for the region,” he said.

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“But instead to focus on the immediate humanitarian crisis, the fact that hostages are still being held, the fact that there is no cease-fire and the fact that humanitarian aid is not getting to people who need it.”

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If the resolution is approved, San Francisco would become the third Bay Area city, after Richmond and Oakland, to call for a cease-fire. Debates in both East Bay cities attracted national attention and accusations of antisemitism after some speakers defended Hamas.

While Preston’s resolution appears carefully crafted to incorporate concerns raised by the Jewish and Arab communities, it’s still sure to be controversial.

It notes that at least 15,000 Palestinians and more than 1,200 Israelis have been killed since Oct. 7 by “armed violence” and states that hundreds of thousands of Gazan lives are at risk — as well as the lives of more than 137 remaining Israeli hostages.

In addition to a cease-fire, the resolution urges the Biden administration and Congress to call for humanitarian aid and the release of all hostages.

But at least one Jewish group is already pushing back, saying the resolution isn’t strong enough in its statements about Hamas and could create a forum for the spread of antisemitism.

The Jewish Community Relations Council, a pro-Israel organization, is holding a vigil for Israeli hostages ahead of the 2 p.m. Board of Supervisors meeting that will include some members of the board and state Sen. Scott Wiener.

In a written statement, JCRC cited concerns that even considering the resolution will “create another forum for provocateurs to spread lies about Israel and Hamas and fuel antisemitism.”

“JCRC Bay Area has many concerns about the pending resolution,” the statement reads. “It fails to condemn or hold Hamas responsible for the pogrom of October 7, nor does it recognize that Hamas is an impediment to any sustained and peaceful ceasefire. It does not recognize that Hamas has failed to adhere to the temporary ceasefire in effect since October 24.”

The resolution does hold Hamas responsible for the attack, however, noting that following the “brutal attack by Hamas militants on Israelis on October 7, 2023, San Francisco Israelis, Jews and others have experienced, and continue to experience, shock, trauma, grief, and fear, compounded by rising antisemitism in our nation and our city.”

But a Muslim group praised Preston for authoring the resolution and urged the public to attend today’s meeting to support it.

In a statement, the executive director of the local office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Zahra Billoo, applauded what she called a resolution “for a sustained ceasefire to bring an end to the atrocities that Israel is committing in Gaza.”

“While some may question the value of local governments weighing in on international conflicts, resolutions like this communicate very strongly that ‘We see you. We care about this also,’” Billoo said. “It is also an important way for communities and local legislators to articulate that U.S. funding should be focused in the U.S. We don’t have money for schools or homes but are sending billions of dollars to Israel.”

Preston — who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors — said he’s received “thousands” of calls and letters from San Franciscans who want the city government to weigh in.

“I understand that’s not a consensus and that there’s some folks that don’t want to see a resolution and don’t want to see the board take action,” he said. “I believe really strongly that the things we’re calling for in this resolution are directly related to what people are experiencing here, in terms of rising antisemitism, rising Islamophobia…So I do think that local legislators have an increased interest and duty to act.”

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