Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng ignores ceasefire calls, but local coalition refuses to quit
At left, Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., at a Jan. 12 webinar meeting with ceasefire advocates. At right, members of the Queens District 6 Ceasefire Coalition demonstrate outside her office. | Photos courtesy of the Queens District 6 Ceasefire Coalition

QUEENS, N.Y.—U.S. Rep. Grace Meng won’t budge in her refusal of a ceasefire in Gaza, despite the appeals of her constituents that she stand up for peace.

On Jan. 12, the Queens 6th District Ceasefire Coalition (Queens6forCeasefire), a broad coalition of community members and organizations in New York’s 6th Congressional District, met with Meng to discuss Gaza.

During this long-awaited meeting, constituents received a back-of-the-hand reception: a webinar link allowing a mere three individuals to speak while dozens more—including members of the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Quaker faiths—were not allowed to speak or be seen on video.

Nearly 100 constituents joined the call only to be silenced, making a sham of the democratic process in Queens.

Fahd Ahmed, executive director of Desis Rising Up & Moving, accused Meng of unfairness and discrimination, as evidenced by her refusal to listen to constituents calling for a ceasefire.

“This is part of the repeated pattern that we see: that certain parts of your constituents are more important to you than others,” Ahmed told Meng at the session. “This is just confirmation of that…a good number of the people that are on this call are Jewish constituents who have been calling for a ceasefire–and yet, you don’t care about them.

Ahmed was blunt: “You don’t care about Palestinians. You don’t care about Arabs. You don’t care about Muslims.”

For the few others who managed to speak at the webinar meeting, Meng offered little that would give them confidence in a change in her perspective.

“My family lives in Jackson Heights, where we’re raising our 1-year-old daughter. We want Congresswoman Meng to know that there is a constituency for humanity in her district,” said Tarek Ismail, a Palestinian-American constituent.

Since November, Queens6forCeasefire has held weekly vigils for peace outside Meng’s offices in Queens, but she hasn’t moved on the issue—a story that repeated at the virtual meeting.

The group also delivered a petition with more than 1,350 constituent signatures calling for a ceasefire and demanding that Meng join her New York congressional colleagues—Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Nydia Velasquez—who have signed onto House Res. 786, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush’s ceasefire resolution.

For months, we’ve petitioned Congresswoman Meng to call for a ceasefire in Gaza to bring an end to the ongoing genocide,” Ismail said, referring to that appeal. “For months, she’s ignored us. We are done pleading with her to recognize the humanity of Palestinians; it’s time for her to prove her own.”

Meng has taken multiple in-person meetings with constituents opposed to a ceasefire and in favor of continued hostilities, meetings she publicizes broadly. She refuses, however, to meet directly with constituents calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and does not publicize such perspectives.

The coalition has been requesting a meeting for months, but the tightly controlled webinar was all that Meng would allow.

The diversity of the Queens6forCeasefire coalition captures the diversity of the district (organizations are listed below), but at no point in the video meeting did Meng recognize this. Instead, she solely cited her Jewish-Israeli constituents as justification for her position. Not once did she acknowledge her Jewish constituents calling on her to support a ceasefire in Gaza, or her Muslim, Palestinian, Arab, and other constituents calling for the same.

In response to the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7 which killed many hundreds of civilians in Israel, as well as hundreds of IDF soldiers, more than 24,000 people have been killed by Israeli aggression in Gaza, along with 330 civilians killed in the West Bank. The U.S. government is Israel’s primary funder and weapons supplier.

Despite this disparity, the congresswoman conceded only that she “will try harder to express sympathy for what is happening in Gaza,” to which the coalition representatives interjected: “We are not asking for sympathy; we’re asking you to call for a ceasefire.”

Meng acknowledged receiving $85,250 in campaign contributions from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for 2024, after being asked if this is what prevents her from wavering in her support for a genocide. The pro-occupation lobbying firm has publicly thanked her for following through on its priorities.

“Listen to the 80% of your constituents who want peace and demand a ceasefire, not the 1% of your funders who benefit from war,” said Rafael Shimunov, a constituent and member of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. “We’ve waited months to hear from you—hear us now!”

The Queens 6th District Ceasefire Coalition includes the Flushing Interfaith Council, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Jewish Voice for Peace, Queens Neighborhoods United, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Unitarian Universalist Association, Centro Corona, Muslim Democratic Club of N.Y., Ridgewood Tenants Union, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Asians4Palestine, Malcolm X Community Garden in Corona, Law Students for a Free Palestine, Project Hajra, Queens 6 Ceasefire, Angry Asian Womxn, the Queens Club of the Communist Party, Malikah, and Mesita de la Memoria.

Several members expressed their ongoing disappointment with Meng following the Jan. 12 virtual session.

Runita Sutton, a Flushing resident and treasurer for the Flushing Interfaith Council and a member of the Unitarian Universalist faith community, recalled Meng’s status as a founder of the Kids’ Safety Caucus in comments afterward.

“The Congresswoman…has said that nothing is more important than protecting our children,” Sutton said, “so, I was very disappointed at her lack of concern for the lives of children in Gaza and for her lack of response.”

“As faith leaders and people of conscience who live and work in District 6, we are disappointed with Representative Meng’s lack of moral clarity and her refusal to listen to the majority of constituents calling for a ceasefire,” stated John Choe, a member of the Religious Society of Friends and president of the Flushing Interfaith Council.

“Meng’s refusal to call for a ceasefire is not only endangering the lives of millions but is also making American taxpayers complicit in crimes that the International Court of Justice is now investigating as a potential genocide.”

For local residents wanting to get involved, contact the Queens 6th District Ceasefire Coalition: queensforceasefire@gmail.com or call (551) 239-3555. 

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Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.