Eighteen elected officials from across the LA region presented an open letter to President Biden and Secretary Blinken today, calling for a “permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the safe return of all of those who have been taken captive … and an end to the collective punishment of Palestinians.” After releasing the letter this morning, dozens of residents, activists and faith leaders gathered at Los Angeles City Hall to pressure the City Council to add their names and voices to the demand for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
LA City Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez and Controller Kenneth Mejia both signed and shared the letter on social media. Multiple mayors from across LA County joined them including: Brian Calderón Tabatabai of West Covina, Konstantine Anthony of Burbank, Daisy Lomeli of Cudahy, Frank Garcia of Maywood, and mayors pro tem Scarlet Peralta of Montebello and Jessie Lopez of Santa Ana. In addition, 6 other California elected officials also joined in signing the letter.
Since the war in Gaza began, multiple cities in California, including Cudahy, Richmond and Oakland, have passed resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Palestine. Earlier this month, Cudahy became the first city in LA to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire. In October, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors passed a resolution “to support the state of Israel” and a special motion calling for “protection of human rights in Gaza and Israel.”
Councilmember Hernandez shared the letter this morning on X (formerly Twitter) stating “A temporary pause to this catastrophic suffering is not enough. We must continue pushing for a permanent ceasefire.” Organizers hope the open letter is the first step to push the LA City Council to introduce their own resolution.
Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a national American Muslim advocacy and public policy organization, gathered with four other faith leaders and the mayor of Burbank outside of LA City Hall to “address the humanitarian crisis in Palestine … and the need for an immediate ceasefire.”
They also commented on the shooting of three Palestinian-American men in Vermont. Al-Marayati told LAPP that U.S. elected officials “need to come up with a political compromise instead of compromising people’s lives.” He said a resolution should be important to every person in LA because “whenever there’s war in the Middle East, then there’s a backlash here and anti-American sentiment increases worldwide. And so, counter-terrorism policies go into place, and with counter-terrorism policies, you’re gonna get a set of McCarthyist type legislation.” Al-Marayati said he thinks a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire hasn’t been introduced to the LA City Council yet, due to “intimidation and fear.”
Over 30 activists, including organizers from IfNotNow, a movement of Jewish Americans committed to “ending U.S. support for Israel’s apartheid system,” also gathered outside City Hall and spoke during public comment this morning calling for all councilmembers to demand a permanent ceasefire. One Jewish Angeleno, Brianna Lavelle of council district 5, spoke during public comment about surviving a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in 2022, “After the shooting, I could have wrapped myself in an Israeli flag. But I reject nationalism, and I reject the notion of revenge. I reject the … idea that Jewish safety must come at the cost of Palestinian life, and I categorically reject the notion that state violence can solve the deep wounds… As someone who has experienced a violent event in Israel-Palestine, I implore you to call for a permanent ceasefire and an end to genocide in Gaza.”
Yesterday, November 27, Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the current ceasefire for two more days. On October 7, the militant group Hamas broke down the barrier separating Gaza and Israel killing more than 1,200 Israelis, and around 200 people were taken hostage. Since then Israel has bombed Gaza relentlessly and began a ground invasion. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, due to Israeli bombing of hospitals and communication infrastructure, they have lost the ability to make an accurate count of the dead, however, it is estimated that about 15,000 Gazans have been killed by Israeli attacks – a number considered reliable by major human rights organizations., Major non-profit organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem have described the situation in Gaza as part of a decades-long system of apartheid by the Israeli state and military.
The letter concluded pointing the finger at the United States government: “Atrocities must not beget atrocities in kind. Inaction on the part of the United States in this conflict renders us complicit in these horrors which violate the most basic human rights.”