Hawkeyes against the warhawks: Iowa City passes ceasefire resolution
Ceasefire supporters march in Iowa City on Oct. 27, 2023. | Ryan Hansen / Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP

IOWA CITY, Iowa—By a vote of 4 to 3, the city council in Iowa City passed a resolution on Jan. 2 calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Palestine. The vote came after months of protest by community members active in a broad coalition of peace and labor organizations.

The resolution makes a clear and concise statement “supporting a permanent ceasefire in Palestine and Israel, the return of all hostages, and the delivery of humanitarian aid.” It points out many key statistics that have not been widely discussed in the mainstream corporate press.

Among them, is the fact that 85% or more of the Palestinian population has been displaced from their homes compared to the 5-10% of Israelis and that Israel holds more than 7,000 Palestinian hostages in prison without due process.

The document also takes a stance that the ceasefire struggle is also about combating all forms of “bigotry, violence, and oppression” that create divides in communities. It doesn’t hide from pointing out the U.S. military aid given to Israel annually, including from local coffers. From Iowa City alone, an estimated $748,000 of taxpayer money goes to military aid for Israel.

Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih shared the story of how the resolution was drafted and passed. She and many members of the community rightly pointed out that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Oct. 9 “encouraged” all flags in the state of Iowa to be lowered to half-staff after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. Since then, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed, but the governor’s office has been completely silent.

Salih and many members of the community stated they felt hurt and upset that the city lowered its flags for only one set of victims and took a side in the war. Salih says she doesn’t want to take a side on this issue and wants the resolution and her voice to show that the people of Iowa City are opposed to violence against all innocent people in the conflict.

Council members who voted against the resolution claimed not everyone in the community had a chance to speak. Council members Alter and Harmsen also stated that they needed to hear from more “stakeholders.”

In response, council member Laura Bergus made many good points, saying that “taking more time served the status quo” and that “inaction will cause harm.”  The people of Iowa City, she said, have called upon all levels of government, state and national, to support a ceasefire so that this senseless killing can stop.

View a livestream of the council debate.

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Michael Powers
Michael Powers

Michael Powers writes from Iowa City, Iowa.