Viewpoint: In support of a local resolution for a cease-fire in Gaza

By Pamela Casey Nagler

An overflow crowd — a broad interracial coalition of Muslims, Jews, Christians, residents, professors, and students — showed up at the February 13 Claremont City Council meeting to ask that a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and return of the hostages be placed on its agenda.

The subject met with some resistance from staff and council members. One staff member commented that the city did not usually weigh in on national and international matters. It was difficult to discern if this is policy or just general practice, but I remember that in 2017 the council debated whether Claremont should be designated a sanctuary city. It decided against the designation, but did affirm the city’s “pledge toward diversity.”

Council member Corey Calaycay made an argument I have heard from countless others, even prior to October 7, suggesting that with all the wars happening all over the world, it is simply not “fair” or “suitable” to single out this one.

My rebuttal is that Israel is very much connected to the U.S. — economically, spiritually, and physically. Israel occupies its own place in the Middle East, but visiting it, it is very evident it is also a very American place.

Since World War II, our government has sent Israel more than $318 billion. In addition, all over Israel, various private U.S. foundations have contributed money as well. The new Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem comes to mind, but this institution is only the tip of the iceberg of private funding.

Which brings me to my central point: because of our enormous influence, Israel is a place where the U.S. could take a stand and make a difference. We could set a standard for opposing warfare and favoring diplomacy. If we won’t take a stand against the U.S. funded military overkill in Gaza, then we have little credibility to take a stand against excessive warfare anywhere else in the world.

Claremont residents also have fiscal reasons to call for a cease-fire. According to the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Claremont taxpayers send Israel $445,328 in military aid each year.

The statistics are staggering. According to ReliefWeb, “Between 7 October 2023 and noon on 20 February 2024, at least 29,195 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and 69,170 Palestinians were injured.” Nonprofit Save the Children reports some 12,400 children are among the dead. The number of children killed in just three months makes Gaza a morbid outlier in comparison to the wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Ukraine.

Keep in mind Gaza is less than 1/3 the size of the City of Los Angeles, in a country that is 1/18 the size of California.

And it’s not just about these current casualties. Other phenomena portend more casualties in the future:


Cultural genocide

The bombing of universities, mosques, churches, hospitals, and schools is not to be discounted. When a country targets cultural institutions, it is much harder for a culture to rebuild after war abates.


Israeli military operations and bombing campaigns in Gaza have inflicted long-term and widespread environmental damage.


Most of the territory’s major urban areas are now uninhabitable. At the end of December, The Wall Street Journal reported that 70% of homes in Gaza were destroyed or rendered inhabitable.

Human-caused famine

The United Nations’ ReliefWeb declared in January that Gaza is suffering from the world’s worst current hunger crisis.

The inequities in Israel/Palestine were glaring even before October 7. According to the U.S. Department of State, “There have been no elections in the Gaza Strip for Palestinian Authority offices since 2006, and Palestinians there do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections.”

According to research by +972 magazine, less than 2/3 — 64% — of those who occupy Israel/Palestine are allowed to vote in Israeli national elections.

Palestinians, if arrested, are subjected to trial in military courts, while Israelis appear in civil courts. In addition, a series of walls, separate roads, blockades, and checkpoints render Israel/Palestine an apartheid state.

Many of us who are calling for a ceasefire and a return of the hostages are not anti-Israel. Rather, we envision a future Israel/Palestine that achieves a better balance of power. Continuing to bomb and wage war in the region makes this very difficult goal even more impossible.

Pamela Casey Nagler is a longtime Claremont resident and was an elected California Democratic Party delegate, Assembly District 41. In 2019 she helped secure the party’s endorsement of U.S. Representative Betty McCollum’s Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.


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