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Why the Sonoma City Council Should Pass a Ceasefire Resolution

Posted on July 5, 2024 by Sonoma Sun

Since January, members of the Sonoma Valley Ceasefire Coalition have attended many City Council meetings, requesting that Council members approve a ceasefire resolution to send a clear message to federal officials opposing U.S. support for the mass slaughter in Palestine. On June 5th, a resolution crafted by the Mayor and Vice Mayorwas on the agenda, yet the Council failed to bring it to a vote, citing discomfort and division among the Council members.

Today, more than 100 US cities have passed such resolutions, reminding us of the long history of local government involvement in foreign affairs, particularly in the era of the imperial presidency, starting with Vietnam and the nuclear arms race, when power became highly centralized in the executive branch at the expense of Congress.

Between 1966 and 1971, there were a dozen local referendums against the Vietnam War, revealing growing popular opposition. All considered after 1968 passed. In the 1980s, 900 local governments approved nuclear freeze resolutions opposing the arms race. In the 1980s, 22 counties and more than 90 cities approved economic sanctions, including divestment, against apartheid South Africa.

The role of grassroots movements in countering an unchecked Presidency is essential to our democracy. Just this month, the Council acknowledged its critical role in foreign affairs when it hosted the Consul General of Ukraine and donated an ambulance to the country amid war. In 2020, consistent with what some historians call municipal foreign or global policy, the Sonoma City Council approved a climate emergency resolution and appointed a new joint Climate City Council subcommittee to develop a climate action plan.

Local government that stands closest to the people can express their will when the federal government is unresponsive to public opinion. Over the years, grassroots movements have influenced and profoundly altered American foreign policy. Sonoma Valley for Ceasefire has conducted a textbook grassroots campaign, collecting over 570 local signatures, most from 95476 zip codes, calling for the city to pass a resolution; emailed and called council members requesting meetings; hosting well-attended educational, arts, and cultural events, and fundraisers for humanitarian aid.

The demand for a ceasefire is consistent with public opinion. According to an April 2024 national Data for Progress poll of likely voters, 83 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Independents, and 56 percent of Republicans support an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

Organizers have continued to lobby council members since the 5th and have requested the ceasefire resolution be re-agendized at the next meeting on July 17th, with three amendments requested by Sonoma Valley Ceasefire: first, a provision to condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Palestinianism. Second, addition of the clause “the release of all hostages.” Third, the resolution should explicitly call for the end of offensive military assistance to Israel.

Cotati, Fort Bragg, Davis, Albany, Richmond, Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento are amongst the 22 California cities approving ceasefire resolutions. Sonoma should join the growing list.

Please sign the ceasefire petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/sonoma-valley-for-a-ceasefire-resolution-2/

Maria Barakat and Marty Bennett

Maria Barakat and Marty Bennett are members of the Sonoma Valley for Ceasefire Coalition and long-time residents of the City and the Sonoma Valley.

 



4 thoughts on “Why the Sonoma City Council Should Pass a Ceasefire Resolution

  1. There are times when it is appropriate for a city government to take a stand or articulate a position on a topic or issue that extends beyond the jurisdiction of the city in question. This is not one of those times, regardless of how many other cities have weighed in on this issue. The group requesting this action showed their true colors last month when they stormed the city council meeting, disrupted the proceeding with threats and obscenities, and accused the city council of genocide for not caving into their unreasonable demands. They are a disgrace to
    themselves and their so-called cause, and the city council should not give in to intimidation tactics by antisemitic, terrorist sympathizers. In this case, I hope the council ignores them and moves on to items relevant to Sonoma.

  2. No one stormed or disrupted until well after public comments on this agenda item. At that point as the council began discussion, it became evident that the council had no intention of voting on or seriously considering the resolution. I and many others spoke during comments for this resolution. I do not think that speaking out to end the killing, to begin humanitarian aid makes one a terrorist sympathizer. I remain hopeful that president Biden’s administration may be able to broker a ceasefire and work with the international community to provide aid to the Palestinian people. As far as our city council sharing my hope or caring about the fate of the people of Gaza, I am not so sure.

    1. Thank you for reinforcing my comments. You state that the disruption didn’t come until a certain point in the meeting, at which point you seem to think that it was perfectly appropriate. What a bogus assertion, that disrupting a public meeting and attempting to intimidate those who disagree with your side is an acceptable action. I’m a left leaning centrist when it comes to politics, and it’s comments like yours that give the ultra conservatives all the ammo they need to rail against the “woke mob.”

  3. When the Council “tabled” the measure does this mean they will address it in the future? Or, does it mean that it is no longer going to be offered?

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