I work for the City of Bellingham, though I write this letter as a private citizen on my own time with my own resources. I write in support of the Resolution that opposes Israel’s violence against Palestinians in Gaza. I appreciate your consideration of my viewpoint, which I convey to you with urgency.
You are, no doubt, receiving feedback from opponents of the Resolution who cite that you have no right to concern yourself with matters outside of City business; they claim that such action is stepping outside of your domain.
This same criticism was hurled against Martin Luther King, Jr. when the scope of his civil and human rights efforts veered from solely domestic concerns and into the sphere of foreign policy when he took a stand against the Vietnam War. “You are over-stepping your bounds,” insisted his enemies and allies alike. According to them, King was to be relegated to a manageable quarantine of conscience.
But, as you know, it doesn’t work that way with human beings, especially those who recognize the interdependence of humanity. And the legislative body on which you now sit has veered into the realm of such greater considerations in the past, having taken bold actions that I have applauded. I urge you to be so bold in passing this Resolution.
My next point is that while each Council Member is against violence and would most likely support the portion of the Resolution that is directed to both parties in the conflict, I ask that you keep intact the language in clauses one and three that names Israel as the primary assaultive party. There is disproportionality in Israel’s violence against Palestinians that has been ignored for too long. This disproportionality—or “asymmetry of power,” as a Washington Post writer called it—is evidenced by the death toll.
Three days ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a Resolution that includes the following language:
“Deploring the massive Israeli military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 13 June 2014, which have involved disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks and resulted in grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian civilian population, including through the most recent Israeli military assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, the latest in a series of military aggressions by Israel, and actions of mass closure, mass arrest and the killing of civilians in the occupied West Bank, that may amount to international crimes, directly resulting in the killing of more than 650 Palestinians, most of them civilians and more than 170 of whom are children, the injury of more than 4,000 people and the wanton destruction of homes, vital infrastructure and public properties.”
Yes, both parties must enact a ceasefire and come to the table seeking peace in earnest. However, between the two, as the UN Human Rights Council states, there is a bigger power that must stop its assault immediately. Its unequal actions must be condemned. Through your vote, you have an opportunity to do so in a very public way.
All civilian deaths are wrong and heinous in war, but this power differential must be stated in your Resolution for your action to accurately reflect the situation.
I believe that you, as a leader, have a responsibility not just to your constituents in Bellingham, but also to humanity as a whole. I look to you to seek justice on this foreign policy matter as you have done many times in the past with similar issues. On August 4th, I look to you to not stifle or relegate your conscience to considerations that are commonly within your sphere of influence, but to make your voice heard in the condemnation of violence and pursuit of peace.
Council constituent in the pursuit of peace
The author of this post will remain anonymous until July 30, at which time the Bellingham City Council Meeting Agenda package will be available online. Comments in support of the VFP-111 resolution opposing the violence in Gaza and the targeting of civilians can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.