Above photo: Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Margot Stewart.
Seattle –Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), working people, and anti-war activists have won a historic victory in forcing Democrats on the Seattle City Council to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and release of all hostages. The vote was 6 yes, 0 no, and 3 abstentions.
“This victory is a testament to the growing strength of the global anti-war movement,” Sawant said. “In the last weeks, millions have demonstrated in solidarity with the Palestinians and against the brutal Israeli state. In addition to huge and growing street demonstrations, workers have refused to handle Israeli war materiel in the ports of Barcelona, Spain; Salerno, Italy; and in Belgium. Workers and community members have been shutting down weapons production facilities. Just this past Thursday, activists in Boston, San Francisco, and Montreal blockaded bridges in protest against the brutal assault on Gaza and ongoing occupation.”
Sawant continued: “This resolution sends an important message to the Biden administration and the US ruling class—this massacre of the Palestinian people must end. But it didn’t happen without a fight. Just two weeks ago, on November 7th, not a single Democrat agreed to ‘second’ our motion for a vote on our cease-fire resolution. Democrats thought they could dispense with it but our movement tenaciously fought back. Today’s victory is a victory for the Palestinian people and for all activists who refused to give up, compromise, or cut backroom deals.”
Sawant’s resolution was the product of debate and input from numerous community members, in Seattle and Gaza, over the last three weeks. Sawant noted that today’s final adopted resolution was amended in two significant ways by Democrats, who apparently developed the amendment behind closed doors and only released it two and a half hours before the City Council meeting. First, the Democrats eliminated the call to end the occupation, a crucial demand of the Palestinian people, supported by the global anti war movement. And second, Democrats eliminated the call to end the $3.8 billion/year in US funding to the Israeli war machine.
“By calling for a ceasefire but failing to also demand an end to US military aid and support for the occupation, Democrats want it both ways: They are bending to movement pressure to say they are for a cease-fire, but they are propping up the very thing that perpetuates the root causes of the war—namely, US funding of the Israeli state’s brutal occupation and apartheid-like policies,” Sawant said.
“Democrats intentionally watered down our anti war resolution because they want to pose as standing with the millions demanding a cease-fire, but they refuse to break with their leader—President Biden—and demand that the US stop pouring gasoline on the fire, as our movement is calling for.”
“That is a shameful disservice to the Palestinian people. It’s also why we need a new party for working people and the oppressed—because both the Republicans and Democrats are parties of war and imperialism. We need to build independent movements whose leaders are democratically accountable to working people.”
Sawant noted that among the many people of Gaza she has heard from is Ahmed Moshtaha, founder of the Gaza Circus and a father of three. He had so far survived the bombs provided by the $3.8 billion in U.S. military military aid. Moshtaha told a Seattle friend, “We have returned to my house after recent bombing of the neighborhood… Now I have 160 inside my house designed for 8. Now only a kilometer between me and the bombing. My son says, ‘Daddy, my heart works like popcorn’. He is a young child with an erratic heart rate stressed by sounds of artillery and bombs.”
“By stripping out from the final resolution the calls to end the occupation and end US military funding, the Democrats are failing the millions of people like Ahmed in Gaza who have faced this relentless onslaught,” Sawant said. “Our movement will claim this historic victory today and fight on. What we won today is a reflection of the balance of forces right now, and it shows we need an even stronger movement in order to address the root causes of the conflict—the Israeli occupation and the US military aid that facilitates the brutalization of the Palestinian people.”