Opinion: Global Issues Are Local Concerns


Photo: istock

This column appeared previously in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Leyla Moushabeck

On March 4, 2024, the Amherst town council will vote on a Resolution in Support of a Ceasefire in Gaza. Many councilors are currently considering whether this is a locally relevant issue. I am a resident of Amherst, a Palestinian American, and parent to two Palestinian Colombian American children, and I am urging the council to vote “Yes.”

Global issues are local concerns: the council demonstrated precedent for this when it endorsed a March 2022 Resolution Supporting the People of Ukraine: “It is the duty of citizens in every democracy to stand up for the cause of democracy and to stand against those who threaten the human and democratic rights of others.”

The human rights of millions of adults and children in Gaza are under threat.

With US backing, Israel has killed Palestinians and destroyed infrastructure at a rate higher than any conflict of the 21st century, and is under investigation for genocide in the world’s highest court. As party to the Genocide Convention, the US is legally obligated to both stop and prevent acts of genocide, yet our government has instead chosen to increase military funding. This gives Israel’s ultra-right wing government the green light, while polling shows 66% of American voters are in favor of a ceasefire (80% of Democrats; and even higher numbers of young and non-white voters). As our country’s highest officials ignore our will and obligations under the Genocide Convention, leadership must come from the local level, from towns like Amherst. 

As Amherst elementary schools reckon with budget cuts of upwards of $500,000 for next year, forcing us to make choices that will impact our most vulnerable students first, our government sends 3.8 billion of our tax dollars to Israel annually, 99.7% of which is unconditional military funding. As the Biden administration seeks to pass an aid package that includes over $14 billion more, this resolution is an opportunity to send a powerful message that we reject the way our leaders are choosing to spend our money.

Finally, it is the responsibility and in the best interests of the town to ensure the safety of its marginalized communities. The council must pass this resolution to firmly and publicly reject the systematic dehumanization that has made over 13,000 children like mine an acceptable cost of war. Councilors must support this resolution because that is what Amherst claims to stand for, and because dehumanization is never contained. In the last 4 months, we have seen a rise in fatal or life-threatening violence against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims in progressive towns across America: a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy stabbed 26 times, along with his mother, in a town outside Chicago; a Palestinian American father stabbed near the UT Austin campus; three Palestinian American college kids shot in nearby Burlington VT for wearing keffiyehs (traditional Palestinian scarves) like the one I wear every day. In this progressive town, my family has received threats and slurs screamed out of car windows, hate mail, and property damage. Our experience and grief have been ignored by our institutions because our very identity is politicized. 

On October 16, 2023, the town council voted unanimously to pass a resolution condemning Hamas—over which American taxpayers have no influence—to show support for grieving people in Israel and Amherst. If the council doesn’t firmly pass the upcoming resolution and condemn this ongoing atrocity that we can influence, it signals to impacted and grieving members of the community that our lives and safety—and the lives of our friends, family, and people who look and sound like us—do not matter to this town. 

There is no peace or genuine safety for anyone, anywhere, if we fail to stand against the unjust and indiscriminate killing of a civilian population by a regime that every legacy human rights organization in the world has determined is committing apartheid. The council must take its lead on this resolution from Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab voices, which have been systematically excluded from decisions for which we pay the highest price. That this is not obvious exposes a privileged position that is out of touch, particularly with the concerns of historically under-resourced and marginalized communities in Amherst. 

Anything short of unanimous support of this resolution upholds a double standard that is exclusionary and dangerous for families like mine. We must do better.

Note: you can sign on to the resolution as a community sponsor by visiting tinyurl.com/amherst4ceasefire

Leyla Moushabeck is Palestinian American resident of Amherst, Editorial Director at Interlink Publishing in Northampton, and co-founder of Valley Families for Palestine. 

Spread the love

3 thoughts on “Opinion: Global Issues Are Local Concerns

  1. Resolutions in this conflict are meaningless-every single one of them. Hamas needs to get out of Palestine and release/trade all hostages and the war will end in 5 minutes. Not 10, 5. Hamas deliberately drew Israel into this war, maybe in their infinite insanity they actually thought they can win it. Since all of Hamas leadership are billionaires living in Turkey and Qatar, they clearly have no empathy for the Palestinian people. Ask Arafat’s billionaire wife and daughter, they own blocks of London real estate, where do you think that money came from? The level of atrocities Hamas’ terrorists committed against the civilian population, especially the inhuman sexual perversion they committed against women, girls, babies and men (yes, men, too) shows a level of a being that is clearly incapable of any form of love or respect, clearly even toward their own. They look at the way Israeli women live and dress and it makes them physically ill. And yet, you can live in peace next to someone you hate. The Palestinians need to rid themselves of Hamas to have a chance at peace.

  2. Thank you for this important commentary, Leyla. This resolution is vitally important since our congresspeople and President are clearly not listening. The will of the people for a ceasefire (66% overall and 80% of Democrats) cannot be ignored. Our local governments must help us amplify our voices and reach the decision makers who actually can make a difference and choose not to do so.

  3. As Americans we don’t have a say in what Hamas does, but we do have a voice in how our own government spends our tax dollars and what it supports in our name. Despite his protestations to the contrary, one phone call from President Biden to Prime Minister Netanyahu is all it would take to stop this carnage. It doesn’t take an expert to see what 2,000-lb U.S.-made bombs are doing in Gaza in our name, only a basic humanity that values Palestinian lives as much as Israel lives. That is what we are asking of our councilors.

Leave a Reply

The Amherst Indy welcomes your comment on this article. Comments must be signed with your real, full name & contact information; and must be factual and civil. See the Indy comment policy for more information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.