Ald. Gardiner votes against city resolution condemning Hamas attack on Israel, citing opposition from Palestinian residents in the community
by BRIAN NADIG and CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
The Chicago City Council at its Oct. 13 special meeting overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Hamas attack on Israel, but Alderman James Gardiner (45th) joined a handful of progressive alderpersons in opposing it.
Gardiner told the council that he would oppose the resolution because Palestinians living in the 45th Ward do not support it, adding that the council lacks a Muslim or Palestinian representative. “It’s vital to also be a voice for the voiceless,” he said.
“I empathize with all victims and family members killed or injured since Oct. 7, but if Palestinians, and I’m not talking about Hamas members, are not in support of this resolution, then I cannot be in support of this resolution either. I appreciate all the work that has gone into writing this resolution and I empathize with all the victims, including the family members who have been killed or injured in this.
“Palestinian people in our community are some of the nicest, kindest, warmest I’ve ever met as well as Jewish people. But I cannot again … if Palestinian members of our community are not in support, I cannot be in support,” Gardiner said at the meeting.
Gardiner also praised the resolution’s sponsor, Alderman Debra Silverstein (50th), who is the only Jewish member of the council.
“Fortunately, thank God, we have a Jewish representative on our City Council that helps bring a voice to those who have experienced hate or been victims of violence. Thank you, Alderman Silverstein, for being a strong voice of the Jewish community,” Gardiner said.
The resolution states the attack “was shocking in its brutality and cruelty, seeing the murder and abduction of innocent babies while parents were gunned down in front of their children in a slaughter the scope of which has hardly been seen since the terrorist attacks against United States on Sept. 11, 2001.”
The resolution states that “ the death toll in Israel has grown to more than 1,000 and is continuously rising, including at least 260 innocent people murdered at the Tribe of Nova music festival – the worst civilian massacre in Israel’s history - and nearly 3,000 Israelis injured to date, a devastating number in a country as small as Israel.”
The resolution continues “We, the Members of the City Council of the City of Chicago, assembled this thirteenth day of October of 2023, condemn this heinous terrorist attack by Hamas, stand in support of Israel, express our deepest sorrow for all innocent civilians, and pray for the safe release of all the hostages taken into Gaza.”
The resolution was approved by a voice vote, making it difficult to tell how each alderperson voted, but Northwest Side aldermen Samantha Nugent (39th), Nicholas Sposato (38th) and Anthony Napolitano (41th) said that they supported the resolution.
Alderwoman Rosanna Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) opposed it. Rodriguez-Sanchez has said that the Hamas attacks were brutal and wrong but that the resolution also should comment on the situation of the Palestinians, reportedly writing that they are “confined to an open-air prison” in Gaza.
Rodriguez-Sanchez, who spoke electronically at the meeting from Milwaukee, said that she opposes the City of Chicago standing behind the government of Israel, who she said, is “committing genocide.” Alderpersons Jessie Fuentes (26th) and Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) also voiced opposition to the resolution. Rodriguez-Sanchez caught some flak on Twitter this week for her comments against the resolution.
Silverstein refused to make revisions to the resolution and said its focus is to condemn a terrorist organization and the mass killings it recently carried out, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
In a newsletter to 50th Ward residents, she wrote “While Jews around the world celebrated the holiday of Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret this weekend, Hamas terrorists launched a horrific attack on the State of Israel. More than 700 Israelis have been murdered–men, women, and children–and dozens of civilians have been kidnapped and taken into Gaza. As many have reported, yesterday may have seen the largest number of Jews murdered in a single day since the Holocaust.
“My heart breaks for all the innocent lives lost, and I stand firmly in support of Israel as it combats this terrorist threat,” Silverstein wrote.