Oct 12, 2023 - News

Chicago alders split on statement about Israel-Hamas war

Illustration of Chicago City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The city's lone Jewish alderperson wants the City Council to issue a resolution standing behind Israel after Hamas' attacks last weekend, but not all members agree on the wording.

What's happening: Ald. Debra Silverstein's draft resolution, to be introduced Friday, condemns the attacks and expresses solidarity with Israel.

  • Silverstein's 50th ward includes West Rogers Park, which has a large Jewish population.

Yes, but: Ald. Rosanna Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) wants to add to the symbolic resolution, writing in an email that the "situation is more nuanced than what this resolution expresses," according to a Sun-Times report.

  • Rodriguez-Sanchez, who belongs to the Democrat Socialist caucus, posted her original email on X, saying "It's never okay to target civilians and Palestinian civilians are also being killed and displaced. It would be unconscionable to not recognize the history of oppression, occupation and violence that Palestinians have endured."
  • Several other Democrat Socialist alders have posted pro-Palestinian support via social media, but have refused to comment to journalists.

The intrigue: Silverstein responded to Rodriguez-Sanchez's request with a hard no, the Sun-Times reports, saying "drawing a moral equivalency between one of the worst acts of terror in world history and Israel's legitimate right to defend itself is absurd."

State of play: At Wednesday's council meeting, several public commenters railed against Silverstein's efforts, lobbying alders to vote against any resolution that would not include recognizing injustices against Palestinians.

What's next: Silverstein said there was a technical issue while trying to introduce her resolution Wednesday, prompting the council to reconvene for a special meeting on Friday at 1:40pm.

  • Some alders pushed to only allow virtual public comments at the meeting due to safety concerns, but Mayor Brandon Johnson denied that request, citing the Open Meetings Act.

The bottom line: The friction among alders reflects larger public division on the Israel-Hamas war in a state with the largest Palestinian American population by percentage and the seventh-largest Jewish population.

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