Letter: Council’s Resolution on Gaza Flawed and One-Sided


Screen shot of Zoom broadcast of the Town Council meeting of March 4 at which a Resolution in Support of a Ceasefire in Gaza was adopted. Photo: YouTube

Amherst hit a new low on Monday, March 4, at its Town Council meeting that dealt with the ceasefire resolution.  Let’s leave aside that a town with as many challenges as Amherst might better spend its Town Council time on something other than trying to determine U.S. foreign policy.  Given the history, multi-national complexity, and the intransigence of the involved parties, it seems unlikely that anyone will feel empowered to move forward with a ceasefire now that Amherst said it is a necessary idea.  The self-importance is astonishing.

One of the unsettling takeaways from the meeting and what was revealed about Amherst was the conduct of the meeting itself and the behavior of the advocates for the resolution. There is no mechanism in Roberts Rules of Order for a sponsor of a motion to announce the removal of all the signatures of a petition supporting the motion. Only the person who signed can remove his or her signature. A request may not be made that there be no amendments to a motion. A meeting that has been adjourned cannot be reopened just because a crowd becomes unruly and threatening. A Town Council meeting is not a concert where the crowd can demand an encore.

The speakers did not feel bound to stay on topic and focus on the issue at hand. A ceasefire seemed to take second place behind demonizing Israel. The barbarism of Hamas, its refusal to release all of the kidnapped hostages and immediately end this war, and the fact that there was a ceasefire on October 6 until Hamas broke it received scant acknowledgment.

The other unsettling takeaway is that a motion that was so flawed, one-sided and unfair had so much support.  It says a lot about Amherst, none of it good.  The people of Gaza are innocent victims but the 260 kids who were slaughtered at the music festival on October 7 were not innocent victims?  The Hamas policy that its fighters do not wear uniforms so that they blend into the general population is insignificant?  Kidnapping hostages is not a violation of all decency?  Where is the equal outrage and resolution about Ukrainian children killed and kidnapped by Russia?  The double standard by which Israel is supposed to absorb October 7 and not attempt to destroy Hamas is appalling.  We all support an end to this war but it must include the release of all hostages.

Take a look in the mirror, Amherst.  You may see hypocrisy, lack of fairness, bullying, mob rule, and even some antisemitism that you flattered yourself was not there.

David Sloviter

David Sloviter is a resident of Amherst

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Council’s Resolution on Gaza Flawed and One-Sided

  1. The resolution that was passed, which is dubious as a reflection of what Amherst residents actually think on the whole problem, was not worth the damage to the public discourse that the process created to get to it. Given that Mr. Steinberg’s modest amendments passed, it’s hard to escape the observation that the resolution was rammed down the throats of the Council, and the community in general. Yes, I do think that “mob rule” is not rhetorical excess on Mr. Sloviter’s part. The proponents had other less coercive ways to assemble the “conscience of the community”, via a petition drive, for example. I think it’s unlikely, however, that Mr. Sloviter and I can talk our leadership out of engaging in these ill-fated exercises, again and again and again. I think they actually serve to increase the perception of polarization in town, if that’s possible. I urge our Town Council members in the future to decide to do what Ms. Taub did, for whatever reason: abstain.

  2. I agree that the ceasefire resolution which passed was completely one sided. I don’t understand why the sponsors could not accept councilor Steinberg’s amendment acknowledging that Israel is also under attack. The conclusion must be to demonize Israel. Thousands of missiles have been launched by Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, and Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran. Just on Tuesday the Hezbollah militia launched about 100 rockets at Israel. Most of the rockets have been intercepted by the iron dome rocket defense system or the casualties would be huge. Israel has the right and responsibility to defend itself and its people from these attacks which threaten their security.

    It is easy for Amherst residents to sit in their cosy homes and not understand the terror of being vulnerable to terrorists. I got a taste of it working at ground zero on 9/11 and living three blocks up. Parts of the plane came crashing through our office windows, one piece slashing my secretary. Even as a one-off, it was terrifying and continued to haunt me. I cannot imagine how Israelis manage being surrounded by terrorists who want their death and destruction.

    The situation of Gazans is horrific. Hamas puts civilians in harms way and uses them as human shields (This was also an amendment rejected by the sponsors) Before the war, 20,000 Gazans worked in Israel. Each day 400 to 500 trucks of food, water, electricity , building materials and other goods were delivered to Gaza. Unfortunately, most of the material has been used to fuel Hamas’ terrorist agenda and infrastructure—including over 400 miles of tunnels. Gazans deserve their own state and a government which cares for and about them. This is a complicated matter that should never have been taken up by the town council. It has divided our community and caused a lot of emotional pain.

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