Why Fargo City Commission Should Call for a Ceasefire in Gaza

For the past two meetings, Fargo residents, including Palestinian-American doctors, turned up to the City Commission meeting describing the horrific humanitarian crisis and the looming famine being manufactured in Gaza and why Fargo should not stand complicit in our government’s unconditional support.

But doesn’t the Fargo government just deal with stuff like managing sanitation? Let’s talk about taxpayer resources. The U.S. will likely spend up to $17.6 billion to pay for Israel’s war. If passed, to pay for it would cost Fargo $7.1 million, according to the National Priorities Project , a federal non-partisan research organization. For scale, Fargo’s 2024 general budget is $120 million. It is comparable to our $19 million spent on solid waste, $27 million on police, $9.8 million on roads, and $2.6 million on planning and development.

That is a lot of Fargo’s money to waste to pay for more bombs being dropped on crowded hospitals and refugee camps, for tanks firing upon civilians, including those in breadlines , and for controlled demolitions of universities . And that is just a one-time payment for only Israel. Who knows how much more it will end up costing us by the time it is over, as Netanyahu has expressed his desire to keep the war going until at least 2025 .

While it is federal taxes, the Fargo City Commission can still use its voice to speak out against such a large and flagrant waste of much-needed Fargo taxpayer resources. Our elected officials in Fargo are more than simple bureaucrats. They are, in fact, community leaders. Certainly, a resolution won’t singlehandedly prevent Congress from dumping billions more into endless war, but every action, big or small, matters.

The City Commission understands the importance of leadership. Less than a year ago, while the North Dakota Legislature was in session, they made official public statements and worked against book banning and anti-trans legislation.

A ceasefire resolution is not “complicated.” The resolution is not asking for the Fargo City Commission to negotiate a sophisticated settlement. Calling for a ceasefire is a basic assertion to follow international law and fundamental morality to prevent even more carnage.

It sends a straightforward message that inducing a famine using starvation as a weapon of war on a population, half of which are children and which comprise 80% of all those in the world facing famine, is justifiable under no circumstances and urgently needs to stop. No one has to be an expert in international affairs to say that the complete and intentional destruction of all health care facilities that millions of people rely on is unacceptable.

The resolution, like all the resolutions I’ve seen, denounces all killings of civilians, whether perpetrated by Hamas or Israel. It also calls for the release of all hostages held by Hamas and for the release of the thousands of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel without charges or trials . How is that “complex”? Even the International Court of Justice and a U.S. federal court have ruled that Israel is plausibly committing genocide. This has nothing to do with politicians’ egos or a culture war, but stopping an obvious and worsening catastrophe, that has our government’s unconditional support .

It is about standing in support with everyone affected, especially Gazans who are undergoing “one of the most intense civilian punishment campaigns in history,” said Robert Pape , a U.S. military historian. Even before Oct 7, the situation in Gaza was dire. A report by Save the Children found that in June 2022, “Since the land, air and sea blockade was imposed in 2007, the lives of children in Gaza have been mired by severe deprivation… 80% of children [in Gaza] reported feeling in a perpetual state of fear, worry, sadness and grief. Three quarters of children were bedwetting in fear.”

Fargo is reduced to symbolic gestures as we are legally prevented from cutting ties with Israel as we did with Russia. North Dakota has a law against BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) measures against Israel. Both the two leading international human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch , classify Israel as an Apartheid state. BDS measures were essential in undoing South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

The time is for all of us to act now, no matter one’s capacity. Innocent lives are counting on it.

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