Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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LTE: Does Evanston Care More About Israeli Lives than Palestinian Lives?

Evanston’s unbalanced response to the Israeli-Gazan violence shows that our government (rightly) cares about Israeli lives and Jewish voices but does not care about Palestinian lives or Muslim voices. Our government must not continue to ignore the killing and starvation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians even after it issued an official proclamation condemning the deaths of 1,200 Israelis.

Evanston faith leaders, national political leaders and community members have called for a ceasefire in Gaza. The City of Evanston must do the same and pass the revised resolution calling for a ceasefire.

Twenty-seven members of the Evanston Interfaith Clergy have recently called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. We are grateful that Evanston’s clergy have spoken out against the now six-month-long slaughter of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians and the displacement and starvation of more than a million.

But we are disappointed that, like our city government, they have continued to center Christian and Jewish voices while silencing members of our local Muslim community. The clergy included not a single Muslim or Palestinian voice in their statement. The results of that exclusion are evident in their call for a ceasefire.

The clergy rightly condemn rapes by Hamas but inexplicably ignore the wide-spread charges of sexual assault and rape by Israeli soldiers against Gazan women. We hope that omission reflects their blinkeredness and not that they consciously place a greater value on the safety of Israeli women than Gazan women.

The clergy call for the release of 134 Israeli hostages but not the release of the thousands of Palestinian hostages whom Israel has taken captive without charge or due process. We hope this is an inadvertent omission and is not because they care more for the freedom of innocent Israelis than the freedom of innocent Palestinians.

We do strongly agree with the Interfaith Clergy when they declare that the violence in Gaza and Israel is an Evanston issue as well as an international issue, explaining: “This conflict deeply impacts our Evanston community, where antisemitism and Islamophobia are being emboldened and are explicitly targeting members of our Community.”

Like the interfaith clergy, the Evanston community recognizes this war is an issue that deeply affects our city. This effect is evidenced by the actions of the hundreds of Evanstonians who continue to demonstrate and the more than 1,400 who have signed a petition calling on the City of Evanston to pass the revised Ceasefire Resolution.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), our congressional representative, has called for a ceasefire. Recently she and over 30 other members of Congress have gone a step further, demanding that the U.S. stop arming Israel.

Over 100 United States municipalities have called for a ceasefire in Gaza, including Chicago, Bolingbrook, Villa Park, Urbana, Bridgeview and Burr Ridge.

For the past six months, Evanston has been centering the voices of Israeli supporters while voicing far less concern for the safety of Palestinians and Muslims, whether in Palestine or in the Chicago area.

When Israeli civilians were attacked on Oct. 7, Mayor Daniel Biss almost immediately made a statement on behalf of the City of Evanston, condemning the attack and the deaths of 1,200 Israelis.

Since then, Israel has killed nearly 34,000 Palestinians. More than a million are on the verge of starvation. Yet Evanston remains silent.

When asked if he approved of the deaths of 30,000 Palestinians, Mayor Biss laughed. (The question and Biss’s reaction is recorded in a video posted on Feb. 25, 2024 on Instagram by the US Palestinian Community Network @uspcn.)

Evanston and Mayor Biss’ continued silence about Palestinian deaths, in stark contrast to the mayoral proclamation about Israeli deaths, sends a clear message: Evanston cares about Israeli deaths, but not about Palestinian deaths.

It is time for Evanston to follow the leadership of the Evanston Interfaith Clergy, Jan Schakowsky and the will of the Evanston people. Pass a ceasefire resolution.

Betsy Wilson on behalf of the Evanston Ceasefire Resolution Team

Betsy Wilson can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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