At the Nov. 27 public forum, the Eugene City Council is again asked to call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. Many speakers say they don’t want their taxes to support genocide. Surveying the packed council chambers:
Mayor Lucy Vinis: I know that there will be calls this evening for council to approve a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the war in Israel and Gaza, and the council can decide to craft a resolution and I will encourage them to do so.
[00:00:30] Councilor Randy Groves: As council president, I would like to develop a resolution along the lines of what the mayor just spoke to for council to consider and vote on. And if there’s other councilors—Councilor Keating—that would like to work with me on that, I would appreciate it.
John Q: We’ll return to the mayor’s remarks, but first, here are all of the speakers on Palestine.
[00:00:50] Kamryn Stringfield: My name is Kamryn Stringfield. Two weeks ago, I came to this body with a call for Eugene to vocally endorse a cease-fire and stand with Palestinian people against the brutal genocide being waged on them by the Zionist Israeli military.
[00:01:05] Since then, the situation in Gaza has worsened. I’m sure some of the other constituents here tonight will remind you of the updated death tolls and statistics, but I want to talk about a cease-fire. About 12 more U.S. cities have now passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire, including here in the Pacific Northwest with our northern neighbor, Seattle.
[00:01:24] Kshama Sawant proposed a resolution to the Seattle City Council to call for a cease-fire and to condemn the Israeli siege on Gaza, and it was rejected the first time. The next city council meeting, hundreds of constituents packed the room to call for a cease-fire, and Seattle passed a resolution.
[00:01:41] You have had hundreds of Eugene citizens rallying in your streets for a cease-fire since mid-October. Last Friday, over 150 people marched from 5th Street Market to the entrance of Autzen Stadium, calling for a cease-fire. On Nov. 15, health care workers from PeaceHealth University Hospital held a vigil for martyred health care workers in Gaza and called for a cease-fire.
[00:02:04] Tonight, you have several constituents here calling for a cease-fire. The message is clear. Eugene needs to take a stand. So tonight, we are proposing a resolution, which I have here, physical copy. I’m going to leave it right here for you. And this is drafted by community members based on resolutions passed in other cities to this body and urging you to act as soon as possible to increase pressure on Israel to stop the bloodshed before it gets any deadlier.
[00:02:32] The resolution primarily calls for: an immediate cease-fire; condemnation of both antisemitism and Islamophobia; solidarity with the Palestinian people in Palestine and abroad; and opposing all U.S. military aid to Israel and urging (U.S. Sen.) Ron Wyden and (U.S. Rep.) Val Hoyle to also support a permanent cease-fire. I’ve submitted this resolution to Councilwoman (Lyndsie) Leech and will be following up to see that that action is taken.
[00:02:58] The people of Eugene will not stop marching and chanting and packing these meetings until you make the right decision. The people of Eugene are still watching you and history is watching you. The world is watching you. Be on the right side of history. Free Palestine.
[00:03:14] Sam Cook: I’m Sam Cook. I am an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. And I want to extend my appreciation to the sentiment of the council this evening in regards to the pursuit of a permanent cease-fire in Palestine.
[00:03:33] I lived in the Middle East for three years. I have family that live in the Middle East currently and friends who are Palestinian who all have been deeply affected by the horrific violence ongoing. In Palestine the current pause—which we are fortunate enough to have—is not enough and a permanent cease-fire is necessary.
[00:03:53] And I think it is incumbent upon local leaders such as yourselves (and it seems as though you are doing exactly that) to place pressure upon national leadership who refuse to take a stand against genocide using our tax dollars. So I just wanted to thank you all for considering putting pressure upon our national leaders. I think resolutions like the one passed in Seattle have a very big effect upon national policy.
[00:04:24] So I want to thank you for your time and for the consideration of a resolution for a cease-fire in Palestine.
[00:04:30] Cherish Bradshaw (City of Eugene): Our next speaker is Eric Howanietz.
[00:04:33] Eric Howanietz: This has become a horrible cycle in my life since I lived in Palestine 20 years ago. A tragedy on repeat, a stagnation of horrible irony. For me, I must come back to this once again after 20 years. For I’m only truly certain of one thing: Nothing has changed.
[00:04:55] We are a part of a global hegemony that stands absolutely alone in its support of Israel’s military occupation and the colonization of Palestine. How this body could alter this status quo is limited, in the same way my own activism was limited all those years ago.
[00:05:18] But maybe you could use your power and privilege to put everything you can on the line, and in some small measure, do what you can to stop the injustice plainly visible before you.
[00:05:33] I urge you to support any resolution before you, hopefully the last, but probably the first of many, that will contribute to the ending of the occupation and the return of Palestinians to their homeland. It could be easy to do nothing, to let it pass. But what I saw 20 years ago that is still true today was a militarized right-wing state deeply invested in perpetuating racist and xenophobic policies and politics in the Middle East, but more importantly, in the policies and politics of the global hegemony we call the United States of America.
[00:06:19] In a community such as Eugene, I would see it even in your own self-interest to put your weight behind a resolution to end the occupation of Palestine.
[00:06:31] Stephanie Thompson: Hi, my name is Stephanie. And I’m here today to support you and emphasize the importance of passing a resolution to stand with the Palestinian people and call for a permanent cease-fire and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.
[00:06:49] Kaleigh Bronson: Hello, everybody. Thank you so much. My name is Kaleigh. I’m a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a community organizer. I’m a social worker. But I’m here for reasons, as many other people, because I believe that we, as Americans, have an obligation to put pressure on our national representatives to demand a permanent cease-fire. Our tax dollars, my tax dollars, are responsible for mass death, and that’s not okay with me. Thousands and thousands of people have died with money that I gave to my government, and that’s not okay with me.
Eugene has a really cool opportunity and I’m really happy to hear that there’s already support for such a resolution to stand in solidarity with 14 other cities across the country, in standing up for what is right and for setting an example for other cities to follow.
[00:07:42] I ask that you do what you can, which is draft and pass a cease-fire resolution to demand justice for those who have lost their lives; to stand with the over 14,000 Palestinians, the 6,000 children who have been killed just since Oct. 7. Standing with them means standing for a cease-fire at the very least.
[00:08:03] That is the least we can do. As was pointed out by Mayor Vinis, true justice means an end to the apartheid. It means an end to the genocide. It means an end to the occupation. Thank you so much. I urge you to draft and pass a cease-fire resolution.
[00:08:18] Jesse Hubbe: My name is Jesse. And I’m calling on you to pass a resolution standing with the Palestinian people and calling for a permanent cease-fire and end to U.S. military aid to Israel. Cities across the nation are passing resolutions calling for a cease-fire and an end to aid in Israel. Most recently, Seattle passed a cease-fire resolution and we’re asking for you to do the same.
[00:08:39] Jacob Trewe: My name is Jacob Trewe. And I’m also here to ask for the Eugene City Council’s support for resolution supporting the cease-fire in Gaza. I know that the City Council doesn’t have a lot of direct impact, but you can have help when it comes to rhetoric. We’ve already asked elected officials. So any pressure you can put on the federal elected officials—that would be useful as well.
[00:09:00] Jasmine DeLatore: Hello, my name is Jasmine DeLatore and I come to you today because as a person who lives in Eugene, I know what is happening in Gaza is horrible. Over 14,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 kids are dead, and Israel is threatening to resume bombing as soon as tomorrow. This is a genocide being carried out by the Israeli military and being funded by our U.S. tax dollars. I’m calling on you to pass a resolution standing with the Palestinian people and calling for a permanent cease-fire to end U.S. military aid to Israel. Cities all across this nation are passing resolutions calling for a cease-fire and in Israel, most recently Seattle, cease-fire and we are asking you to do the same.
[00:09:38] Zachary Palmer: Hello, my name is Zachary Palmer. This is one of the many stories that are untold. Mainstream media doesn’t talk about the 23-year-old American woman that was gunned down by the Israeli army when she was standing in support of innocent Palestinian farmers. People would be outraged by hearing this, but they would have to listen to Palestinian news to hear it where the truth of these genocides and humanity is told is on the Palestinian news. Israelis are bombing whole areas of innocent people when searching for one man. This is called mass punishment. It is a war crime. Palestinians are peoples whose land, food and water and freedom have been stripped from them with no mercy.
It is our duty to create a better world for all of our children. When we were children, we wanted to be politicians, doctors, journalists, superheroes, or just good people. Is this what we imagined doing? Supporting genocide? I’m calling on you, with millions of others, to pass a resolution immediately to cease fire and stop U.S. aid to Israel. Other cities are passing the resolution to stop the genocide of the Palestinian people. I urge you to pass a resolution that not only calls for an immediate, permanent cease-fire but in the occupation.
[00:10:57] City of Eugene: Our next speaker is Mazda Majidi.
[00:10:59] Mazda Majidi: I too am here to support the resolution to bring an end to the genocide in Gaza. I’m old enough to remember another movement in the 1980s against apartheid South Africa. In that movement as well, for years and years, people said, ‘Oh, the ANC are terrorists, African National Congress, Nelson Mandela are terrorists,’ and they found all kinds of ways to not support them.
[00:11:28] But the continued struggle of the people in South Africa and the support that they received internationally got the situation to a point where even Republican Ronald Reagan could no longer support his buddies in South Africa. And at that point, for the final years, providing arms and weapons to South Africa was left to one state. You guessed it: Israel, another apartheid state.
[00:11:56] When Nelson Mandela was released from prison and he came to the U.S., he was treated correctly, rightfully, as a hero of the liberation movement. In fact, he was invited to the U.S. Congress. Congresspeople, Republicans and Democrats, were shoving each other to try to get photos with him. No one called him a terrorist anymore.
[00:12:18] So I think it’s important and I really appreciate the fact that the city council is considering passing the resolution in support of a permanent end to the bombing of Gaza. I think it’s very important for the city of Eugene, along with all the other cities, to be on the right side of history, to make a stand for the innocent people that are being killed.
[00:12:44] I also want to say and emphasize that, like other people have said, this is not an equal, there’s no equivalency between the violence of the oppressed and the violence of the oppressor. The Palestinian people have been bombed by Israel for decades, have been displaced, have been forcefully removed by terrorist acts.
[00:13:06] Israel is a colonizer state, is a settler state, and it is an apartheid state, and it will follow in the way of South African apartheid.
[00:13:15] Andrea Holt: Hello. My name is Andrea. I’ve lived in Oregon for over eight years, and I cannot believe it took (U.S. Sen.) Jeff Merkley over a month to meagerly say cease-fire, and that (U.S. Rep.) Val Hoyle and (U.S. Sen.) Ron Wyden have yet to acknowledge that their voters are demanding the end to the genocide in Palestine. If my representatives won’t speak for me and my neighbors, I hope this council will.
I support a resolution for a permanent cease-fire for all of Palestine, an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and an end to the U.S. aid of Israel. We have a copy of what the people are asking for, a resolution that our sister city in Seattle passed a few days ago.
[00:13:58] I don’t know how we’re supposed to keep going, keep working, keep acting like this is normal, while we are the people actively funneling our government with the money used to murder innocent Palestinians. That makes me an involuntary but active participant in genocide. We will not stand for it. We will not continue.
[00:14:21] We will continue to correct this wrong, and from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.
[00:14:27] Leilani Sabzalian: Greetings, Leilani Sabzalian, I’m also here today to urge you to pass a resolution calling for an immediate and permanent cease-fire and was grateful to hear your comments at the beginning of the meeting.
I’m speaking today as an indigenous scholar and one of the leaders of the movement in 2016 to pass Indigenous Peoples Day.
[00:14:46] And I was grateful for your support then, and wanted to remind you that the original declaration that we proposed in 2016 declared that the city of Eugene vows to uphold the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples endorsed by the United States in 2010.
And Article 7 of that declaration clearly states that indigenous people have the right to life and a collective right to freedom free from genocide.
[00:15:11] I’m calling on you to pass a cease-fire resolution because what we’re witnessing in this moment is not a war, and it’s not a conflict, but a clear case of genocide, and it’s our responsibility as people of conscience, to condemn genocide in the clearest terms possible. This isn’t my personal opinion, but the opinion of scholars, experts, and international human rights groups.
[00:15:32] Prior to Oct. 7, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International had already condemned Israel’s actions as apartheid, illegal occupation, and in violation of international law. But since Oct. 7, the U.N. secretary-general said that Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. The U.N. Special Rapporteur just warned the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide and 36 U.N. experts have called the situation in Gaza a genocide in the making.
[00:15:59] There was also a legal brief. A 44-page legal brief outlined Israel’s unfolding genocide of the Palestinian people and U.S.’s failure to prevent and its complicity and genocide issued on Oct. 18. That charge was issued over a month ago, when the death toll was only at 3,000. Now we have conservatively exceeded 14, 000 with nearly 6,000 of those being children. So bearing witness to genocide is not a moment for nuance or complexity. It’s a moment for resolve—a moment for moral clarity for courage and for action.
[00:16:33] And as elected officials of our municipal government, it’s your moral duty to use your position of power to both condemn and to prevent genocide. It’s the minimum that you can do. I want you to be able to look back on this moment and know you spoke up, know that you did something like Dr. King said when he spoke up against U.S. support for Vietnam.
[00:16:51] Ashton Skinner: Hello, my name is Ashton Skinner and I come to today because as a Eugene citizen and as a third-generation Armenian immigrant, I know that what is happening in Gaza is horrible. In the early 1900s, Armenia experienced a genocide where more than 600 people died. My family was lucky to survive. I’m lucky to be alive today.
[00:17:11] With over 14,000 Palestinians already dead, I implore you to not let history repeat itself and to pass resolutions standing with the Palestinian people and calling for a permanent cease-fire and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.
[00:17:29] Rain Dreyfuss: Hi, my name is Rain. I’m a constituent of Eugene and an American Jew. And I’m here to ask the council to be the next city to call for a permanent cease-fire and an end to the genocide in Palestine immediately. And to not just create the resolution, but to create it immediately. The slogan isn’t ‘Cease-fire soon,’ it’s ‘Cease-fire now.’ The longer you wait, the more Palestinians will die while you take your time. Please don’t wait another day.
[00:17:58] Mae Bracelin: My name is Mae Bracelin and I’m a student of UO, and the vice chair of University of Oregon Young Democratic Socialists of America. I’m here today to ask that the Eugene City Council pass a resolution calling for an immediate and permanent cease-fire between the State of Palestine and Israel and an end to apartheid and occupation.
[00:18:18] What we are witnessing in Gaza, as well as the West Bank, is a genocide. Over 20,000 citizens have been murdered by the IDF, thousands of them children, not to mention the over one million who have been displaced. Israel is pursuing a scorched-earth strategy that will leave an entire nation and its people decimated. We have a special responsibility as U.S. citizens to call for a cease-fire, as Israel is only able to support this war off of the taxes we pay.
[00:18:48] Pressure from U.S. citizens, like this council, tangibly and materially works to end this war. We are not the first to call for this. DSA electeds, like Rep. Jamaal Bowman, (Rep.) Cori Bush, (Rep.) Rashida Tlaib, were the first to call for a cease-fire. But since then, over 40 other representatives have echoed this call.
[00:19:09] Despite this, our local representatives (Sen.) Ron Wyden and (Rep.) Val Hoyle have failed to speak out. It is your duty to wield your power to apply pressure and to expand the demand for a cease-fire, please, on the behalf of the people of Eugene and the people of Palestine, do what is right.
[00:19:30] Dylan Stevens: Hello, this is my first time in here. And I’m nervous to talk in front of y’all. I didn’t even know any of this happened. This is good. I’ll probably be in here again to talk about other things, but I’m here to talk about Palestine cease-fire. My name is Dylan. I live in the Westside Jefferson neighborhood. I’m an American Jew. My family was deeply affected by the Holocaust and there’s absolutely no reason for what is going on right now.
[00:19:55] I’m speaking to something that predates me that I’m still learning about, and it is very complex, but it’s not complex to be asking for an immediate cease-fire. I hate that my tax dollars go to war. This is not the only war that it’s going to. This is the war that’s getting attention, and it deserves all the attention that it needs.
[00:20:16] And there are many other ways that I feel that the money that I make and give to the government is misused. And this is absolutely one of those things. I’m calling for a permanent and immediate cease-fire.
[00:20:28] Shannon Loveland: My name is Shannon Loveland. I just moved to Eugene the last couple of months. I am grateful to hear the sentiments of the council and for the opportunity to speak to my heart. It is my greatest tool. I work as a teacher in a therapeutic classroom for preschool aged children. Every day I teach, play, hold and model for children how to love themselves and others to understand their emotions and to express them with confidence and kindness.
[00:20:53] I do not abandon them when they act out and I hold them when they cry. I have an active hand in breaking generational cycles of abuse, not only for myself, but for many other families in the city of Eugene. I truly, truly love my job.
However, every hour that I work at my job, a percentage of the money that I make is being used by the government of the United States to fund weapons and bombs that have killed over 14,000 Palestinian people, over 6,000 of them children, though we know that there are many, many more deaths yet to be counted. So many children, their mothers and their fathers,
[00:21:34] And I will never be able to reconcile in my heart how my love and devotion for the families of Eugene can be turned into violence for families halfway across the world against my will. I ask this council to call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Palestine and to proudly stand for the end of genocide, occupation, and colonial violence, wherever it exists.
[00:21:54] But lives of families all over the world, including the indigenous people whose stolen land we stand on here today, should and will live and dream in peace and freedom. I deeply hope that my new home will be an example to other cities in our country of bravery and justice and thereby a place that I can be proud of.
[00:22:13] Every single second counts and every voice counts.
[00:22:18] Helena Platt: I’m Helena and I would like to thank and applaud you for your words in support of a cease-fire and hopefully your actions. But I would also like to state that a cease-fire is not enough. The amount of money that the United States has given to Israel in military aid for what is a fascist genocidal occupation (not to throw around buzzwords) is unacceptable and painful to me.
[00:22:45] As someone who’s struggled with housing insecurity, whose friends have struggled to afford health care because they don’t qualify for OHP, whose friends have been trapped in abusive or unsafe situations: Where are we finding $14 billion that Joe Biden wants to give to another country’s military that isn’t even fighting a good fight when there are people who are homeless in our city, who can’t afford mental health care, who can’t afford food, whose children go hungry?
[00:23:16] It’s very painful to me. And I’ve always been really proud of paying my taxes, because I think that in a community, that’s what you do. You take care of each other. But for the first time, I am not. And I, again, would like to encourage you to do everything you can to end both military aid to Israel and support a cease-fire.
[00:23:42] Jason Sydes: My name is Jason Sydes. I’m a dad and an instructor at the University of Oregon. In about seven weeks, the state of Israel has killed at least 14,000 Palestinians, a staggering death toll in such a short period of time for such a small population. This is likely a vast underestimate.
I want to read you some of a New York Times article published on Saturday, Nov. 27, titled ‘Gaza civilians under Israeli barrage are being killed at a historic pace.’
[00:24:06] Quote: ‘After initially questioning the death toll in Gaza, the Biden administration now concedes that the true figures for civilian casualties may be even worse.’
Quote: ‘Experts say that even a conservative reading of the casualty figures reported from Gaza show that the pace of death during Israel’s campaign has few precedents in this century.’
Quote: ‘More women and children have been reported killed in Gaza in less than two months than the roughly 7,700 civilians documented as killed by U.S. forces and their international allies in the entire first year of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.’
[00:24:43] Quote: ‘Aand the number of women and children reported killed in Gaza since the Israeli campaign began last month has already started to approach the roughly 12,400 civilians documented to have been killed by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan during nearly 20 years of war.’
[00:25:01] Let’s talk about bombs. Quote: ‘In the first two weeks of the war, roughly 90 percent of the munitions Israel dropped in Gaza were satellite-guided bombs weighing 1,000 to 2,000 pounds. These bombs are really big, said Mr. Garlasco. In one documented case, Israel used at least two 2,000-pound bombs during an October 31st airstrike on Jabalia, a densely populated area just north of Gaza City, flattening buildings and creating impact craters 40 feet wide.’
[00:25:28] Air Wars independently confirmed that at least 126 civilians were killed, more than half of them children. My words again. Israel has killed at least my words, at least 10 times the number of Palestinians than the number of Israelis killed on Oct. 7. A clearly disproportionate response in violation of international law.
[00:25:47] Do not delay. Do not wait for Israel to kill 20 times, 30 times, 100 times more because if we don’t act now, Israel will continue the slaughter. I ask you to support and approve a city resolution for a permanent cease-fire.
[00:25:58] Danielle London: My name is Danielle and I’m a resident of Ward 3. Like many others who have spoken tonight, I’m also an American Jew and our Jewish tradition teaches me, teaches us that ‘b’tzelem Elohim,’ which means that we are all made in the image of God and that every life lost is a universe lost. Currently Israel’s siege on Gaza has killed more than 15,000 Palestinians, including over 5,800 children.
[00:26:25] That’s not to mention the thousands more who will die from starvation, disease, or who are currently buried under rubble. The death of thousands, the loss of thousands of universes is a dire situation that calls for action immediately from all of us. I am thankful that this council will be joining the dozens of other cities across the U.S. who have passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire.
I encourage you when drafting the resolution to not only advocate for a cease-fire, but also to recognize the root cause of the current injustices of 75 years of disposition, discrimination, and slavery. I’m going to be talking a little bit about the current state violence by Israel against Palestinians and the billions of dollars the U.S. spends each year and military funding to Israel to enable this.
The current temporary cease-fire we’ve seen over the past few days shows us that a permanent cease-fire is possible, a future of peace and safety for everyone grounded in justice, freedom and equality for all is the only option we have moving forward.
[00:27:25] Adam Kufeld: My name is Adam Kufeld. I’m a photographer and a Jew. I worked in Gaza, the West Bank, as well as El Salvador and Iraq. I’m not sure how much I can add at this point, but I’d like to start by saying being pro-Palestinian is not antisemitic, it is pro-humanity.
[00:27:44] Two decades ago, I was asked by the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance to go to Gaza and the West Bank. I was to document the trip of Gus Newport, who had been the mayor of Berkeley for two terms. He wanted to know what life was like for people in both Gaza and the West Bank and particularly children, as the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance supports children’s programs, but in particular in Gaza, but also in the West Bank.
[00:28:11] We first went to Jabalia refugee camp. And as to not endanger the family we would be staying with, we had to sneak past any number of military towers and my first impression was: ‘This is what hell must look like between garbage, poor sanitation, overcrowding, and the constant military patrols.’
[00:28:32] That night, after hearing stories of life there, we were told that the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) was coming through and tear-gassing homes without warning. One person in our small group slept or tried to sleep with his American passport sticking out of his pocket, hoping that if the IDF did come through, they would see that he was an American and not tear-gas us.
[00:28:57] We were to have spent several nights there, but we were told it was too dangerous, both for ourselves and for the families that were hosting us.
[00:29:05] Today, tragically, Jabalia has been all but wiped off the face of the earth. It was the largest refugee camp in Gaza. In a statement on the night of Nov. 1, the IDF stated that the troops from the Givati Brigade were targeting one Hamas commander in the area. To accomplish this task that night, they dropped two 2000 U.S.-supplied bombs.
[00:29:30] City of Eugene: Our next speaker this evening is Ezra Banuelos.
[00:29:33] Ezra Banuelos: This is my first city council meeting, and I did not know that there would be so much support for this issue regarding the cease-fire. I think I speak for behalf of myself as well as the rest of the city asking of the council’s opinion on not just a cease-fire, but also the funding going towards Israel. Maybe an official statement or something. I think that’d be helpful to our understanding of the council’s position. Thank you, everyone who’s come today to speak in support of Palestinian rights. And thank you, Mayor, for supporting a resolution that calls for an immediate cease-fire in Palestine.
[00:30:03] Eva Krukowski: My name is Eva. I’m a voter in Springfield and I’m also a student at the University of Oregon. I am Jewish and I’m a member of the Cherokee Nation.
[00:30:13] I’m empowered to be here today because of my Palestinian friends back home, and I’m holding the memory of my mentor, Hadil, and my cousin, Nazir, who was a beloved business owner in Eugene. My grandfather is a Holocaust survivor from Poland. He’s turning, he just turned 93. He was forcibly removed from his home in Poland, and his life as he knew it until the age of eight years old changed forever.
[00:30:37] The majority of deaths in Palestine have been children, so it pains me to no end to think about the thousands of innocent young lives that are being changed permanently by this U.S.-backed occupation. My grandfather was able to escape the Holocaust after years of running because of a heroic Japanese diplomat named Chiune Sugihara.
[00:30:57] If it weren’t for Sugihara, he and his family would not have escaped alive. You have the opportunity to use your platform to be diplomatic heroes, like Sugihara, by demanding an end to the U.S. support of the Israeli government, to demand an end to the occupation in Palestine, and to ask for a permanent cease-fire.
[00:31:18] These commitments we’re asking you to make today are especially important in light of a shooting in Vermont of three college students. Free speech is being threatened at UO and your resolution will set an example for deans at UO to support student voices speaking in support of Palestinian freedom.
[00:31:36] You are in a unique position to analyze systems of power in Eugene that uphold white supremacy in the name of Israel. I think we all know that Israel is a country and it is not a religion.
[00:31:47] Dr. Geoffrey Gordon: My name is Dr. Geoffrey Gordon. I’m a clinical psychologist who lives and practices in Eugene, and I am Jewish. I’m here to speak about the genocide of Palestinians. Over 14,000 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel since Oct. 7, 10,000 of which are women and children, according to the New York Times just yesterday.
[00:32:06] Thousands more corpses have yet to be counted as they lie missing beneath the rubble of collapsed apartment buildings, mosques, churches, hospitals, schools, and U.N. refugee camps. Images I have seen include countless blood- and dust-covered babies and toddlers shivering from overwhelming pain and psychological trauma.
[00:32:26] I watch footage of rescue workers weeping as they picked up pebble-sized chunks of charred flesh that were once children and placed them in a small pile on a sheet amidst the ruins of a blood-splattered classroom that was hit by an Israeli bomb. Doctors, nurses, and technicians have been assassinated while in the line of duty.
[00:32:44] A failure to make a public repudiation of such evils would be a moral failing on the part of our city’s leaders, so I am grateful for your earlier statement, but I expect a public declaration from the city of Eugene to support Palestinian liberation, which includes a call for a permanent cease-fire and end to the apartheid system and end to U.S. military aid for Israel and a commitment by the city to divest from any financial involvement with Israel.
That commitment includes a statement to the effect that Israeli police trainers will not be hired for any EPD training purposes in the future. I believe EPD bought equipment and received training from the Israeli company Cellebrite in 2018 and 2021 after the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
[00:33:30] I will mention that three years ago during the demonstrations, two large male EPD officers tackled a 14-year-old girl at a protest, allegedly for throwing rocks. When I expressed my concerns to (former Eugene City Councilor) Claire Syrett regarding the brutality of tactics and similarities to West Bank policing, the response was arrogant and unconcerned. She has since been recalled.
[00:33:49] These commitments that I’m asking you to make are especially important, in a diverse university town like Eugene, especially in light of the weekend shooting of three Palestinian college students in Vermont after several demonstrations. I can tell you that most people on the street here are with me.
[00:34:06] This is your chance to prove that you care. By our thousands, by our millions, we are all Palestinians.
[00:34:12] Thomas Hiura: My name is Thomas Hiura, I’m the current elected vice chair of the Human Rights Commission, but I’m speaking as a private individual. We have to be able to hear one another in Eugene. It’s part of what makes us special. Some portion of listeners will hear the human beings in this room say we support the rights of Palestinians and they’ll be inclined to tune out.
[00:34:28] Luckily, the power of the people is working and moving and shaking, and you, Mayor Venis and Council President Groves, have, as of tonight, committed to advocating for an enduring cease-fire and a diplomatic path to peace. Thank you. That’s the right start for everyone in that region.
[00:34:43] I first began studying the contributions of Israeli and Jewish civilians toward the cause of peace when I was a student in the 4J district. I thought I’d give a shout-out to the Jewish solidarity we saw at least twice tonight in this forum so far. You stand on the shoulders of humanitarian giants.
[00:34:57] Everyone should speak out against our tax dollars funding overwhelmingly the slaughtering of civilians and children. And as Gazans have tried to return to their homes, the current four-day pause has not been free of violence or killing. There are also two talented public servants who have initially filed for Eugene mayor for the 2024 primary, and they want to lead a pivotal city on the west coast of the contiguous United States. What are their positions on wanton violence in the name of our national interest?
[00:35:23] Congresswoman Val Hoyle, where are you on this call for a permanent cease-fire? I know you strive to remain committed to the District 4 legacy of constituent services. How are our federal leaders, Senators Merkley, Wyden, and (Rep.) Chavez-DeRemer, so many of them, how are you checking in with your communities here in Oregon that are most affected by this wanton killing and rises in hate-filled violence and bias incidents?
[00:35:45] All forms of religious and ethnic discrimination are wrong. It’s rather simple. For years, like many of you, I’ve been deeply troubled by rising antisemitism as well as Islamophobia in our community and otherwise. It’s all wrong, and I’ve yet to see a bomb help change the culture of hate.
[00:36:03] When I was a college student, I got to visit Burlington, Vermont. It felt like the closest thing to a smaller Eugene you could find tucked away in New England. I’m horrified to hear what happened in that city on Saturday to three 20-year-old college students who it appears were shot because they were of Palestinian descent. Please go forward with a robust resolution and continue speaking out against hate.
[00:36:24] Eugene and our higher education institutions do not need to become the next headline of preventable violence. War is over if you want it.
[00:36:32] Colin Moran: Hello, my name is Colin Moran. I wanted to speak in support of a resolution, not only for a cease-fire, but also a condemnation of U.S. support for Israelis’ long-standing and well-documented policies. I’ll let U.S. and Israeli leadership describe those policies themselves. From the first Prime Minister of Israel: ‘We must expel the Arabs and take their places.’ President Truman said, ‘You can’t move five or six million people out of a country and fill it up with five or six million more and expect both sets of them to be pleased.’ In 2002, former Israeli Attorney General wrote, ‘In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories, immediately following their capture.’
That oppressive regime exists to this day. These are the conditions which led to the attacks of Oct. 7. Since then, many Israeli leaders have publicly called for genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
[00:37:27] For example: ‘Everything is blowing up and being flattened. A pleasure to the eyes. We need to talk about the day after. In my mind, we will hand over lots of land to the soldiers who fought in Gaza’.
Another quote: ‘We need to take advantage of the destruction to tell the countries that each of them should take a quota. It can be 20 or 50,000. We need all two million to leave. That’s the solution for Gaza.’
And finally, President Biden has said throughout his career, including multiple times in the past two months, quote, ‘Were there not an Israel, the U.S. would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region.’
[00:38:04] It is not hyperbole to say that the U.S. is backing settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing to embed a Western-oriented ally and military outpost in the resource-rich Middle East. Illegal occupation and apartheid are the intermediate forms this colonial project takes and are well documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, multiple U.N. reports, as well as Israel’s own human rights organizations. B’Tselem and Yesh Din. Please consider a resolution that condemns the root causes of today’s atrocities and condemns the U.S. for its complicity.
[00:38:38] Lindsey Alexander: Hi, I’m Lindsey Alexander. I really don’t like public speaking, but I am so deeply upset by our country’s involvement and support of what is happening in Gaza currently and over the past—I don’t even know when it started, decades. And the level of inaction that is coming from, like, all of our representatives is heartbreaking and I don’t know what else to do, but to come up here. Because you are our nearest representatives that we can reach to ask to please not only demand a cease-fire.
[00:39:18] It needs to happen immediately because every single day, it’s thousands and thousands of more lives being affected. There’s thousands of kids trapped under the rubble. Every time I open my phone, it’s either a charred baby, a dismembered toddler. They’re doing amputations without anesthetic.
[00:39:37] It’s not only the bombing. They have a complete siege around a cage of people that have no access to water, to food, to medical supplies. They’re killing the doctors and the journalists there. It is insane that anybody is doing anything but screaming for this to stop. And I’m here to ask that you please not only pass the resolution, but please use your platforms, use your voice to stand up against this and I would be really grateful to see that.
[00:40:02] Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis: I issued a statement earlier in this war. And tonight I will reiterate my conviction that only a negotiated peace can lead to safety, security, and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians, and that peace process must begin with a cease-fire.
We are all struggling with feelings of anguish, anger, loss, and despair over this appalling violence.
[00:40:26] All human life is precious. The cruelty of attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas on Oct. 7 and the subsequent onslaught by the Israeli government on civilians in Gaza are horrifying and unacceptable. It is important as elected officials to stand firmly in support of U.S. policies that promote a peaceful end to this conflict.
[00:40:48] A resolution from this council can be a powerful reassertion of values that this council has expressed in earlier resolutions in support of peace and in opposition to hate. Issuing a resolution is not enough, and not a substitute for the work that we must do here at home. The trauma of this war and loss of life reaches directly to this community.
[00:41:14] Our friends and neighbors who are Jewish and Palestinian need our support as they face a surge in antisemitism, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate speech and crimes. Peace begins with us, not with accusations or diminishment of the suffering on either side, but as a community that shares grief and extends our hands and hearts in compassion.
[00:41:40] I personally have a long history in the Middle East. I studied and worked in Beirut, Cairo, and Jerusalem. The history of this conflict has been a long, terrible spiral with enormous human suffering. There is an apt Arabic saying that translates: ‘What begins with stipulations, ends with understanding.’
[00:42:02] We have a moment to stand for peace with clarity about the depth of pain and the challenge of compromise that is required. We should all do so with clear heads and honest hearts.
[00:42:17] John Q: Two weeks after one councilor suggested donating to the Red Cross, 27 speakers and Mayor Vinis ask the city council to adopt a resolution addressing both the Oct. 7 massacre and the genocide in Gaza.