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You CAN Fight City Hall

Councilwoman Tammy Kim

Irvine City Council defeats attempt to promote ceasefire/aid to Gaza

After months of discord at Irvine City Council meetings with both Jewish residents and Hamas supporters engaging in hours of comments—and catcalls and jeers coming from the latter–Mayor Farrah Khan and Vice Mayor Larry Agran decided to put their proposals on the situation to a vote on February 27.

Councilwoman Kathleen Treseder

    Thanks to the efforts of a group of concerned citizens and some astute thinking by the other council members, the effort was defeated. Exhausted and exhilarated, the group left the council chambers around midnight, vowing to do its part to help defeat such measures in other cities.
    Agran put forth four motions, seemingly focusing on education, bringing the community together, and offering humanitarian aid. While the motions did not directly call for a ceasefire, one of them said, “after the ceasefire.” Many of the concepts in the motions were either not under the direct jurisdiction of the city or were redundant to efforts already supported by other groups.
    After Agran made the proposal to vote on the first motion, Councilwoman Tammy Kim offered an alternate motion: “The conflict in Gaza is not a municipal issue. It falls beyond the subject matter jurisdiction of this Irvine City Council. This conflict falls within the realms of the federal government, international organizations, and diplomatic efforts, and addressing them here is not within the purview of our municipal duties. So through this motion, we will reaffirm, once and for all, our commitment to prioritizing local matters and refrain from involving ourselves in affairs beyond this jurisdiction.”

Councilman Mike Carroll

    Councilwoman Kathleen Treseder seconded the motion, and Councilman Mike Carroll also voted for it. Agran decided to withdraw the rest of his motions.
    The battle has ended for now, but the war against disinformation and bigotry continues. There will be other city councils proposing resolutions and other well-organized and well-funded attempts by “the other side” to spread its narrative to uninformed elected officials and citizens. There will be other outright attempts to shout down speakers and harass lawmakers.
   The grassroots group in Irvine has learned that elections matter and has put together a suggested list of people for whom to vote in both parties and in nonpartisan races, as well as talking points for council meetings and other situations. It has developed good chemistry among people of various political persuasions with the operative issue being a laser focus on supporting Israel.
     Finally, the group has learned the power of organization. That, along with the knowledge and commitment of members–and the support of the community—will give Jewish people a chance to speak and others a chance to listen.

Ilene Schneider has been chronicling Jewish life in Orange County for five publications since 1978. She has served as a communications consultant for a number of Jewish organizations. She is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.



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