Chicago became the largest city in America to pass a city council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.
It wasn’t easy. The debate between aldermen was sharp and loud. They were joined by several pro-Hamas protesters who interrupted the meeting several times until an exasperated Mayor Brandon Johnson ordered the meeting cleared of spectators.
Ald. Debra Silverstein, the only Jewish member of the council, spoke in opposition to the resolution, giving graphic details about the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, during which terrorists targeted babies and raped women as a weapon of war. That set off the crowd in the gallery, which called Silverstein a “liar.”
The council voted to consider a revised version of the resolution penned by co-sponsor Ald. Daniel La Spata, 1st. Its language called for a permanent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, humanitarian aid and the release of all hostages as the war in Gaza rages on for a fourth month. It also included support for a United Nations cease-fire resolution that’s opposed by the federal government.
While La Spata said he doesn’t have any illusions that the council’s vote will influence international policy, he held out hope skeptics will see that supporters of the cease-fire language “vote with hope, we vote with solidarity, we vote to help people feel heard in a world of silence.”
“The resolution you are being asked to consider is not a compromise,” Silverstein said. “We all want peace in the Middle East. We all want an end to the bloodshed and an end to the war. But it is vital to understand what caused the conflict.”
Despite the high-minded rhetoric on the council floor Wednesday, the fight to win the symbolic vote was a classic Chicago political power struggle.
The final push to pass the resolution included an endorsement Monday from powerful unions like the Chicago Teachers Union and a widespread school walkout Tuesday that included cease-fire calls from hundreds of high school students. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who attended the start of the meeting, also threw his support behind the resolution.
It’s the second time Johnson has broken a council tie when aldermen came up even for and against. In November he cast the deciding vote to save council ally Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, from an official censure for bullying and threatening colleagues.
This kind of moral posturing, while the city’s illegal alien crisis threatens to put women and children out into the cold Chicago winter, is nauseating. And despite a drop in the murder rate, it hasn’t fallen that far, nor has the number of shooting victims moderated more than a fraction. Carjackings and auto theft have skyrocketed as the city’s police force has to decide between enforcing the law or losing their jobs.
The city council has been tied up in knots for almost a month on this issue. Couldn’t it have found a better use for its time?