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City Council Conflicted Over Gaza Peace Agreement Resolution



Photo: Councilmembers Stanley Martin, Mary Lupien, Willie Lightfoot, Kim Smith, and Mitch Gruber


The impact of the ongoing conflict in Israel is reverberating across America, with protesters in Rochester taking a stand at a city council meeting. 


Tensions arose after four council members, Willie Lightfoot, Kim Smith, Mary Lupien, and Stanley Martin signed a resolution calling for support of a cease-fire recognizing the displacement of 2 million Palestinians. 


Spearheaded by council member Stanley Martin, the resolution aims to urge state and federal leaders to work towards a peace agreement in Gaza. 


Martin emphasized the importance of Rochester standing in solidarity with Palestinians, highlighting the devastating loss of life following recent conflicts between Hamas and Israeli forces.


Council member Mitch Gruber addressed concerns raised by some community members who labeled the resolution as anti-Semitic, dismissing these claims as misguided interpretations influenced by external organizations. 


Gruber, as the only Jewish member on the council, stressed that he found no traces of anti-Semitism in the resolution proposed by Martin. He encouraged his colleagues to evaluate the language of the resolution independently and make their decisions based on its content rather than external rhetoric. 


“Every council member can choose to do what they want to do,” Gruber stated. “But I think it’s very important to be clear, as the lone Jewish person on the council, that I do not think what council member Martin put forward is in a bit if there’s a shred of antisemitism in there. And I don’t think there was ever an intent of there to be antisemitism.” 


Protesters are urging all council members to follow suit and show solidarity with their colleagues. Carly Paris, a supporter of the cease-fire, emphasized the importance of cities coming together to oppose the violence and stand against genocide. Paris says isues such as housing, food insecurity, and economic stability are also prevalent in Rochester, adding urgency to the protesters' demands. 


Although the resolution is symbolic, some believe it serves as a powerful statement; while others believe it is an attack on Israelis. 


Gaza's health ministry reported that the number of Palestinians killed in the war has surpassed 30,000. The most recent total stands at 30,035 deaths. 


The health ministry provided NPR with one of its latest reports on the death toll, 38 pages long, to analyze. According to NPR.com, the death toll reported is viewed as the most reliable one available. A close look at how Gaza's health ministry counts those killed in the war reveals a system that is buckling under the weight of war and unable to keep an accurate toll of the dead, the report confirmed. 


Local legislators are also receiving backlash for the war in Gaza. Several legislators received a statement filled with antisemitic tropes from groups like the Green Party of Monroe County and the Party for Socialism and Liberation Finger Lakes. Reports state these groups demanded that the Israeli flag no longer be displayed outside the county office building, highlighting the divisive nature of the conflict and its impact on communities beyond Israel.


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