Caving to pro-Israeli pressure, legislators from San Francisco and Richmond, Calif., sent two resolutions condemning Israel for its deadly attack on the Freedom Flotilla back to committee, where critics hope the measures will die.
After four hours of public testimony that lasted almost until midnight, San Francisco supervisors declined to vote on the resolution, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“That the resolution came before the Board of Supervisors is an important step for human rights and shows there is a fundamental shift occurring within the American dialogue about Palestine,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, chairman of American Muslims for Palestine and professor of near eastern and ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
Supervisor John Avalos, one of the measure’s sponsors, still backs the resolution, despite the pro-Zionist opposition.
“I’ve been told that this resolution is divisive,” the Chronicle quoted Avalos as saying. “But really it acknowledges the disproportionate power the state of Israel has to create a blockade and enforce it on the high seas, even to the extent of attacking civilians in the dead of night.”
City Council members in nearby Richmond also sent their resolution back to committee as well. After a contentious meeting, in which some council members questioned Mayor Gayle McLaughlin for bringing forward the resolution, it was sent back to the Human Rights Council. Mayor McLaughlin, who previously issued a statement condemning Israel’s May 31 attack that killed nine unarmed civilians, chairs the human rights committee, according to the Bay Citizen.
“This is something we have no control over,” said Councilman Nat Bates said in the Citizen. “Israel and Palestine don’t give a damn what Richmond thinks.”
Dr. Bazian, however, doesn’t agree with that assessment.
“What happens in San Francisco and Richmond is being watched closely by Israeli officials and people in Palestine,” Dr. Bazian said. California often sets the tone for the entire United States. “In Israel, these resolutions punched one more hole in the polished public relations apparatus Israel – through lobby groups in this country – has flooded Americans with. The more Americans voice their dissatisfaction with Israel’s illegal, inhumane and unjust policies, the weaker Israel’s hold on the occupation becomes.”
Dr. Bazian added: And actions such as the two resolutions bring hope to Palestinians around the world – those living under occupation and those living in Diaspora around the world.”
Watch AMP for further updates and pending action alerts on these issues.
~ Kristin Szremski 6/17/2010