Charlottesville Passes Ceasefire Resolution

On Monday evening, the City Council of Charlottesville passed a ceasefire in Gaza resolution by a vote of 3 to 1 with 1 abstention, after having voted it down two weeks prior by a vote of 2 to 3. The difference was Council Member Brian Pinkston, to his credit, having the decency to change his mind. Unchanged was the public pressure, as people were committed to fill every council meeting until they got it right. The people who spoke during the public comments at both meetings were brilliant and wonderful.  Here are highlights selected from the first meeting. The full video from the second meeting is here.

These were my comments at the pre-meeting rally outside City Hall on Monday:

Unlike other countries, some 40% of what the U.S. government calls foreign aid is actually money — your tax dollars — that foreign governments have to turn around and give to U.S.-based weapons dealers for instruments of mass murder. This helps explain why the destinations of so-called aid from the U.S. don’t match up with the places most in need, and why the top recipient of so-called aid is the non-poor nation called Israel. The vast majority of Israel’s weapons imports come from the U.S. Many of them Israel pays for, but the U.S. helps out there too in a special way. It allows those shipments even when they violate numerous laws, such as the Arms Exports Control Act, the Foreign Assistance Act, the U.S. War Crimes Act, the Genocide Convention Implementation Act, etc., and even when both the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council have ordered Israel to cease what it is doing with the weapons. The U.S. government has been arming Israel just about since Israel was created by murdering local residents and driving some 750,000 people out of their homes, demolishing over 400 villages. Since the first Nakba, the U.S. has given Israel vastly more so-called aid than it has given any other country, over $270 billion worth. Since last October, the U.S. government has secretly approved over 100 weapons deals selling and shipping to Israel munitions, bombs of all sizes, guns, and airplanes. Last week, the Biden administration approved 25 F35 fighter jets worth $2.5 billion and billions of dollars in bombs, including 1,800 bombs each weighing 2,000 pounds and each capable of leveling a city block and leaving a 40-foot crater. While the U.S. government is rushing over these weapons, and allowing Israel to block actual aid into Gaza by ground, and defunding the UN’s agency for actual aid while people die of starvation, the U.S. is making a show of proposing to construct a port and of dropping tiny amounts of food from the sky — some of which packages have killed on impact, others of which have landed in the sea where desperate people have drowned trying to retrieve them. Perhaps that’s better than Israel allowing in trucks of food and then shooting people who line up to receive it — we’ve seen that too. But only for a second or so, because the most important aid the U.S. government gives the Israeli government is propaganda aid. The U.S. government amplifies every lie, to the point that millions of people think up is down and in is out. People in the United States are not ungenerous or devious. People in the United States want their government to be good and kind, and believe it actually is. But there exists a responsibility to learn what is really happening, and when it is not in-line with how things should be, to change it. If I were constantly shooting guns at my neighbor’s house, would you praise me for throwing some crackers through the window too? Or would you stop bringing me bullets?

These were my comments to City Council on Monday:

I want to thank this council for reconsidering a resolution in support of a ceasefire in Palestine. Rare is the government that will listen to people at all, much less listen to them more than once. I want to thank members of this council for taking care with their duties and seeking to protect this city from the sort of deadly Nazi rally we saw here several years ago. But I want to thank them even more for reconsidering whether silence in the face of genocide is really the best way to protect us — and by us I mean all living things on Earth. If someday I am asked “What did you do during the Second Nakba, grandpa?” I’d like to be able to say that not only I but all of us did what we were capable of to end it, that we went even beyond what was perfectly comfortable, that we were willing to be called names and worse, but that we did not go silent. And that we did not ask anyone else to go silent, but invited them to friendly discussions and debates. But we cannot wait to speak against mass murder until every last person has understood what’s happening, even people who own televisions. We cannot dismiss as a radical policy position simple compliance with the law, including the numerous laws that forbid sending weapons to nations engaged in committing crimes with those weapons. We cannot normalize ignoring the orders of the World Court and the United Nations. And yet, as we’ve made clear for weeks, we aren’t even asking this council to support compliance with the law on arms shipments. We’re asking it merely to endorse what many of those supporting the arms shipments themselves have long claimed to already endorse, namely a ceasefire. If I were constantly shooting guns at my neighbor’s house, would you praise me for throwing some crackers through the window too? Or would you stop bringing me bullets? All we’re asking — all we’re asking is that while you keep bringing me bullets you mention that it would be good if I were to knock it off. This isn’t asking much. Thank you for reconsidering.

2 thoughts on “Charlottesville Passes Ceasefire Resolution”

  1. Adele Abrahamse Roof

    I am thrilled that the Charlottesville City Council has now done the right thing! The issue is genocide, and it should be condemned no matter who commits it. Thanks to David Swanson of World Beyond War and thanks to all the other activists and other organzations that supported this important crusade.

  2. Thanks, David, for your work on this and congratulations to you and all on this victory. I had to laugh, though, and at first I thought this was an April Fools’ Day gag, when I read the names of the councilors, because they read at first glance (to me) as:
    with “Wade” being the only one I saw correctly.

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