The SF Board of Supervisors passed that resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict, and the 8-3 vote set off utter bedlam in the board’s City Hall chambers.
You know it was going to be a chaotic donnybrook at today’s SF Board of Supervisors vote on Supervisor Dean Preston’s resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, considering that at yesterday’s committee hearing on the matter, shoving matches broke out, leading to Twitter videos accusing opposing sides of “chants for the annihilation of nine million residents of Israel” and “ZIONIST ATTACKS ARAB YOUTH.” Such are the emotions after the October 7 Hamas attacks killed 1,200 Isrealis, and Israel's response has since killed an estimated 23,000 in Gaza.
ZIONIST ATTACKS ARAB YOUTH— Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area (@JVPBayArea) January 8, 2024
This morning at San Francisco City Hall, a Zionist w/@SFJCRC shoved a kid & ripped off their mask
All for shouting Free Palestine during the ceasefire resolution hearing
Shame, @SFJCRC consistently attacking & endangering Arab/Palestinians here in SF pic.twitter.com/wMQyiNS16f
And a chaotic donnybrook it was. Even though Supervisor Ahsha Safai called for a moment of silence before discussion, it did not stay silent for long. A rowdy and mostly pro-Palestine crowd in the chamber shouted down Supervisor Rafael Mandelman when he said was voting no, leading Board President Aaron Peskin to scream at them “Let us do our jobs and chill out!” And when the board did eventually pass the ceasefire resolution 8-3 (with Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Matt Dorsey, and Mandelman voting against it), Peskin again hollered “We’ve got work to do,” as the crowd whooped it up and celebrated for a solid 60 seconds, before Peskin yelled “Recess! Recess!” to calm the place down.
NEW: crowd at SF City Hall chants "Free Palestine" moments after the Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 in favor of a resolution calling for a sustained ceasefire in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/UoBpJ0pQZx— J.D. Morris (@thejdmorris) January 9, 2024
It does seem odd for the SF supervisors to be voting on this, as one cannot imagine that Hamas, "Bibi" Netanyahu, or President Biden gives a tinker’s cuss what the SF Board of Supervisors does. But it meant something to the supervisors. The measure’s sponsor Dean Preston said “we’ve never seen this level of engagement and passion” on a previous board vote, and Supervisor Ahsha Safai added “This is the most gut-wrenching issue that I have dealt with on the Board of Supervisors. I have never received more calls, more emails, more text messages, more DMs, more people stopping me on the street.”
Preston said it was remarkable “For people to wait five hours, lined up outside this building and throughout our halls, to come in and talk for one minute” in public comment sessions.
But Preston’s measure did not pass as written. What passed was essentially a Peskin re-write, as Peskin added a ton of amendments, which he described as making the bill “a one-page resolution” (though it takes him a full one minute and 40 seconds to describe the allegedly shortened version.) Peskin’s amendments are described below starting at the 2:05 mark, calling for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and the release of the hostages (plus notably, they do contain a condemnation of Hamas, but do not call for Hamas’s removal).
BREAKING: SF Board President Aaron Peskin (1/9/2024 2:30pm) addresses the Gaza/Israel Cease Fire Resolution, suggesting new resolution amendments, shorten the earlier resolution. Here's the proposal: pic.twitter.com/TfP2bwfekA— Richie Greenberg (@greenbergnation) January 9, 2024
Chants of “Ceasefire now!” from outside the chamber could be heard as supervisors spoke, particularly when Stefani said “You cannot call for a ceasefire without calling for the surrender and removal of Hamas and the return of all hostages.” Stefani added, “I don’t know how you have a ceasefire with a terrorist organization who has recently said it would commit October 7 over and over again if it could.”
Supervisor Myrna Melgar seemed to realize the apparent triviality of an SF Board of Supervisors resolution, but she defended debating it anyway.
“We are a local government in San Francisco. We don’t have the power to control actions of the Israeli Defense Forces, or Hamas, or the U.S. government,” Melgar said before the vote. “The city of San Francisco does not send money to Israel.”
But she added, “We can and must acknowledge the close ties between our community and Palestinians and Israelis and those who profoundly suffer in the Middle East. We must speak up for civilians who are suffering horrific violence and dislocation.”
Image via SFGovTV