Chicago’s only Jewish lawmaker is screamed down for opposing motion to call for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war…days after she was jeered during Holocaust Memorial Day speech
The only Jewish member of Chicago’s 50-member city council was booed down by an angry mob for the second time in a week when the city council slammed Israel for its war on Hamas.
Legislator Debra Silverstein pleaded with colleagues not to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire without the release of hostages and made no mention of the October 7 attack.
It came just days after protesters disrupted her remarks at City Hall when she spoke movingly about the Nazi-led genocide on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters packed the building and the public gallery for the knifepoint vote in which Mayor Brandon Johnson saw off strong-arm opponents before casting the deciding vote.
“There’s not even a single mention of the dozens of women who were raped,” Silverstein said to the shocked crowd as a police officer stood nearby.
Debra Silverstein, the only Jewish member of the Chicago City Council, cut a lonely figure as her colleagues pleaded not to demand a cease-fire that left Hamas in power.
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian supporters packed City Hall to pressure lawmakers ahead of the vote that left Chicago the largest US city yet to demand an unconditional ceasefire
Several protesters were ejected from the council chamber for disrupting the meeting before the entire public gallery was eventually ordered out
“No reference to the brutal depravity now burned into the psyche of every Israeli and every Jewish man, woman and child.”
The resolution made Chicago the largest US city yet to demand a cease-fire in the four-month war that has claimed more than 26,000 Palestinian lives, and the Democratic mayor worked furiously behind the scenes to make it pass.
He asked two senior aldermen to stay away if they could not support it, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, and was criticized for using his casting vote to stoke tensions.
“We should not pass a resolution unless it makes clear that Hamas cannot and must not attack again,” Silverstein said.
“He had an opportunity to be a unifier, and he could have sat down with us and come up with a solution that might have gotten us all a unanimous vote, and instead he not.’
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker also disapproved of the vote in a city that would host the Democratic National Convention in August.
“I was disappointed that no consideration was given to the women who were raped by Hamas fighters who crossed into Israel, kidnapped people, that the deaths caused by those terrorists were not acknowledged,” he said.
“And the city council, if they’re going to talk about the challenge of war in the Middle East, you have to make sure you include all the perspectives. They didn’t.’
Silverstein’s colleagues on the city council remained silent as she was heckled by the crowd
Chicago’s Democratic mayor has been accused of having strong-armed opponents and criticized for using his casting vote to ensure passage of the controversial measure
The police struggled to maintain order as the corridors were taken over by protesters
And protesters erupted in joy as the controversial measure passed by a single vote
Councilors struggled to get through as protesters occupied the building’s corridors
The controversial ‘From the River to the Sea’ slogan, condemned as anti-Semitic by many Israeli supporters, featured prominently
But the protesters didn’t have it all their own way with at least some support for Israel visible in the public gallery
Hundreds of anti-Israel protests have taken place in major cities since the war broke out, and President Joe Biden is repeatedly heckled during his speaking engagements by protesters who have voiced his support for the country.
Biden has faced mounting pressure to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war that began on October 7 when Hamas launched a terror attack that killed about 1,200 people and took 253 hostages.
The president has privately told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will not support Israel’s year-long war in Gaza and is concerned about the growing death toll in Gaza and the impact the war is having on younger American voters over the course of the country has until the 2024 election.
The United Nations says 85 percent of Gaza’s population has been forced from their homes, with hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation.
And earlier this Biden ordered the Pentagon to review what weaponry Israel has requested that could be used as leverage to scale back their military attack on the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Silverstein, who has represented the city’s 50th ward since 2011, is the only Jewish alderman in a city with one of the largest Jewish populations in the US.
She glared defiantly at protesters who interrupted her remarks to the city chamber until they were ordered out of the public gallery and the debate continued.
But she has been repeatedly targeted and was wept with protest when she said the words ‘never again’ on Holocaust Memorial Day.
“Never again is a statement against all forms of anti-Jewish hatred,” she tweeted afterward.
‘Holocaust denial and distortion are recognized forms of antisemitism and should never have taken place at City Hall.’
The Biden administration is reportedly considering using arms sales as a way to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scale back their attack on Gaza
And some protesters expressed anger at the greater threat to peace in the Middle East
Mayor Johnson defended the use of his casting vote, saying the city council had already passed a resolution in October affirming Israel’s “right and obligation to protect its citizens from terrorism and attacks by hostile foreign powers.”
“We continue to make sure that our city, as a global city, lends its voice to issues, whether it’s calling out the heinous attack against the Israeli people, or whether it’s calling for a ceasefire and the release of the hostages, ‘ he added.
But the Israeli consulate in the city labeled the resolution pointless and counterproductive.
“While this resolution will have no impact in the Middle East, it will create more division among communities in Chicago and inspire more anti-Semitism, as we have seen on the floor and in the galleries of City Hall,” it added.