Chicago City Council chambers cleared during debate on Israeli support resolution; measure passes

Religious leaders weigh in on violence

Saturday, October 14, 2023
City council chambers cleared during debate on resolution over Israel
Chicago City Council chambers were cleared after disruptions during a debate over the Israeli Solidarity Resolution, which eventually passed.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In a rare move, the Chicago City Council chambers were cleared after numerous disruptions during a debate over a resolution to address the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Far North Side Alderwoman Debra Silverstein, the council's lone Jewish member, introduced an Israeli Solidarity Resolution Friday, which is meant to show support for Israel after hundreds were killed in an attack by Hamas last weekend.

But it was met with some opposition, including from the galley which at time erupted into "Free Palestine" chants.

Josue Sican was among those demonstrating against a controversial resolution condemning last weekend's attack by Hamas, and standing in support of Israel.

"I don't see this resolution being proposed in good faith of actually pushing for peace," Sican said.

Thoughts on the matter were split during public comment, and drew backlash from some city leaders like Alderman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez who appeared in the meeting via Zoom.

"If we are against violence, we are against all kinds of violence and we need to be in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters as well. That's not what this resolution says or does," she said.

Ultimately, the measure was approved by the council after a voice vote.

Mayor Brandon Johnson called this a very heavy moment for the city.

"The pain and trauma that was rippled across this world is certainly felt right here in the city of Chicago and amongst all of us, and so we are grieving together as a city," he said.

Mayor Johnson went on to say that he is praying for safety and peace overseas, and asking Chicagoans to do the same.

Before the meeting, some activists voiced their concern about the resolution and urged the council not to support it.

Some local faith leaders also weighed in Friday morning on the conflict in the Middle East.

The breakfast started with a prayer, fitting for a room filled with members of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago. The council is dedicated to building networks of friendship and respect among the city's faith communities.

Three religious leaders were honored, including Rabbi Michael Balinski.

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"Are civilians being killed? Yes, civilians are being killed. No one denies that. Is that the intent? No, I honestly do not believe that is the intent. I really think Israel is attempting to go after Hamas," said Balinsky, a community excellence award honoree.

Imam Kareem Irfan was another honoree Friday morning. He said he wants to make sure that the escalation is contained.

"We need to focus on the suffering of people across the borders. We need to focus on justice. We need to focus on love and togetherness and forgiveness," Irfan said.

Friday's event was emceed by ABC7 Chicago anchor Ravi Baichwal and was attended by the mayor.

Mayor Johnson delivered remarks at the Metro Chicago Council of Religious Leaders Friday.