November 20, 2023

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Public Commenters (30 min)
Basma Hamid  Riley Petro  Robin Beth Schaer  Graham Ball  Josiah Quarles  Lucie Rose Shiffman  Akshai Singh  Dennis Ashton  Brian Houser  Estelle Raskin 

Basma Hamid

Assalam alaykum good evening. Everybody thank you for having me.

Imagine you have a a premature baby that has to stay in an incubator for some time at the hospital and suddenly the doctor comes and tells you that your baby is not going to live much longer due to lack of oxygen and shortage of formula at all hospitals in Gaza due to the current off of all supplies to life Necessities including but not limited to water food fuel electricity and committing war crimes to the whole Enclave of Gaza by the Zion State called Israel which puts the whole population of 2 and a half million citizens in Raza on a death row and that's not all the bombs of illegal white phosphorus supplied by the us being dropped like grain day and night to kill as many innocent unarmed people as possible including women men and children by the hundreds and cause the most damage possible here in Cleveland we have life Necessities to live alhamdulillah thanks to God but safety in Cleveland is omitted it is number one in the state and number 147 in the nation that lacks safety instead of sending our tax money overseas to kill children in Cold Blood in Gaza and Palestine in my opinion it should be spent here to fix the problems of drugs alcohol addiction homelessness poverty homicide robberies gun control Cleveland does not stand with Israel mayor bib when you say that Cleveland stands for Israel you are just speaking for yourself when we come to all of these protests we do not feel 100% safe because of all the people around us thinking we are terrorists and want to hurt us when we have done nothing to them they hate us because they hate us all because of you mayor bip you won't be human enough to stay on the side of humanity in my opinion our city council thinks that Cleveland is so perfect and all the problems are fixed it is such a safe City that it could afford up to 10 million of our tax dollars to send overseas to kill more and more children in Gaza and Palestine and participate in establishing an apde state in Palestine by committing genocide unfortunately my vote and donations went to the wrong people running for office positions now the truth has prevailed and lies lies are diminishing from The River To The Sea Palestine will be free thank

2:33 Permalink

Riley Petro

next we have Raleigh Petro Raleigh Petro is from Ward 17 and he wants to talk about a proposal to limit public comment he's from the party for socialism and Liberation Northeast Ohio aner Coalition and he is not being paid by anyone rally you had the floor thank you uh I'm here to speak on the issues of proposed changes to public comment as a second most populous city in Ohio is almost inconceivable that the ability for the public to make comment at City Council was only implemented 2 years ago since that time some on this Council have appeared to become less concerned with hearing the concerns of their constituents and neighbors and more about saving face on a September 25th meeting Chris Martin had his microphone cut off for reading a list of council members and the campaign contrib contributions they received ostensibly for quote imping their character unquote this action and the rule that those making public comment may only address Council as a whole and not an individual council member have been challenged as violating Citizens First Amendment rights and this council's own legal team agrees that the current rules quote May raise some First Amendment concerns unquote that despite these concerns some on this Council have decided they wish to double down and further restrict public comment some on this Council have asserted that the newly proposed rule to limit comment to a single item under discussion by council is about quote preserving decorum unquote but when dozens of commenters have come asking for their public officials to retract their own public statements supporting Israel and these officials refuse to address them what effect would this rule have when citizens present council with a resolution to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Council does not take it under discussion what does this new rule do other than silence them your calls for decorum are Hollow and in the words of Martin Luther King you seek a negative peace which is the absence of tension instead of a positive peace which is the presence of justice that being said I would like to take the time to acknowledge councilwoman Mau for speaking strongly against further restrictions on public comment as well as my w representative councilman s for raising public concerns and corresponding with me personally regarding this issue however for anyone on this Council who would vote for any such proposal let it be known that you may try to silence our voice at City Council meetings but you cannot silence the voice of the United masses thank you and free [Applause]

2:45 Permalink

Robin Beth Schaer

Palestine next we have Robin Beth Sher from Overland and Robin be share is here to uh support the Jewish and Palestinian community in Northeast Ohio she's not representing anyone and not being paid by anyone you have the floor I'm here to ask you to call for a ceasefire in Gaza for many of us there is much learning and unlearning necessary to see this moment clearly as an American Jew I was raised to love Israel with a glorious story of a land without a people for a people without a land a lie I was not told the full truth as you yourselves may not have been either but there is no shame in realizing we've been told half a story The Shame is in refusing the whole story as a Jew it is not betrayal to lay Israel's history bear it is not self-hatred to want freedom for Palestinians and it is most definitely not anti-Semitism to condemn Israel's government no government should be immune from critique especially one ruled by a violent and oppressive regime it is not in spite of my jewishness that I support the Palestinian cause but precisely because of it the guiding tenants of Judaism are to love the stranger to treat our neighbor as ourselves and to work toward tun Alum healing the world everything about the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli government violates those tenants all of this death and destruction in Gaza is the opposite of healing the world our Jewish teachings tell us that whoever destroys a human has destroyed a whole world and whoever saves one human has saved a whole world as Jews our own history is riddled with massacres that sheared millions of Limbs from our family trees and decimated future Generations in Gaza over 13,000 people people have been killed since October 7th thousands and thousands of children think of all the lives that will never be led the inventions and artwork we will never know all the family lines erased whatever your interest in the region may be whether Financial religious cultural the best way to protect them is through Equitable Solutions we cannot bomb our way to safety the futures of Jews and Palestinians are bound together it is not either or when we erase each other we erase ourselves we will only survive together the best way to support both our peoples is by preventing Israel from going down a genocidal path from which there is no return thank

3:06 Permalink

Graham Ball

next we have Graham ball Graham ball is from Cleveland Heights he's here to talk about Justice not representing anyone and not being paid by anyone good evening I am here before you on the 45th day of the genocide in Gaza more than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed including more than 200 healthcare workers and 50 journalists 1.6 million Palestinians have been forcibly removed from their homes the literal definition of ethnic cleansing and the making of a second nakba some council members in this body say in the media that these are international issues and they're not Cleveland concerns I'm here to tell you about barah Abu barah came to nor Ohio as a foreign exchange student joining the 2014 class of Cleveland Heights High School she was in the AFS Club she was in our vocal music department where she sang with me in our choir when she graduated from Heights she went back to she went went back to Egypt she went to Egypt to to study medicine where she graduated uh just recently and returned to her home in Northern Gaza where she and her siblings were killed last month in an Israeli air strike she I never really got to know her very well but I spoke with her several times and she was very sweet she was always very stylish she was a member of our community and of the heights family she sang our tradition songs she lived in our neighborhood she was my classmate and my peer and she was 26 years old we grieved for her so you do not get to say that this is not a Cleveland concern that this is not affect our community or our city I want to thank you council member Mah for your statement calling for a ceasefire we appreciate your integrity I understand that many of you here are remaining silent because you are politicians and the age-old political wisdom is to avoid this subject at all costs but I'm here to tell you that that wisdom is outdated the conversation has shifted and your political calculus must change as well more than 80% of Democrats now support a ceasefire in Gaza and in Generation Z 70% of American voters under 35 oppose the bid administration's handling of this genocide My Generation understands intersectional struggle we know that our Liberation cannot be separated from the liberation of all oppressed people around the world we know that the same tear gas used on me and my peers in the streets of Cleveland after the killing of George Floyd is deployed on the streets of Hebron and in ramala and in Gaza we know that freedom and safety for one group of people cannot come at the expense of subjugating another group of people we know that opposition to anti-Semitism and opposition to islamophobia go hand in hand that each stem from the same systems of white supremacy we know that the United States is giving political cover lethal Aid and unconditional support to the Israeli government which is enabling their war crimes and genocidal actions as conscientious citizens of American Empire we cannot stay silent while elected representatives in Washington and Ohio enable the mass killing of civilians overseas as members of the political establishment you all have an obligation to speak up as individuals or as Council and call for a ceas fire free paltin [Applause]

3:01 Permalink

Josiah Quarles

next we have Josiah qus Josiah quls is from Cleveland Heights he's here to talk about the housing crisis and he's representing neok and he is not being paid by anyone Mr cor you at the floor Mr corl you at the floor Mr coros you have the [Applause] floor Mr qu you have the [Applause] [Music] floor Mr cloros you have the floor thank you I'd like to say that obviously I'm here to speak about something very specific and very local um but anyone who has any wisdom understands that we live in a world um that that is far beyond our reach so we must think globally as we act locally um the situation in Gaza is a very very extreme um version of something that we see repeated over and over across the globe within communities and that is the dehumanization of people when we separate ourselves from the stranger from someone living in a tent some someone uh facing eviction we do both ourselves that individual and our entire Community a disservice currently the family shelter has been overflowed and and in Beyond capacity since April a rapid re housing program is completely broken and shut down last week for the first time I've ever heard of the emergency shelter was full this Council approved $5 million for the Cleveland Housing Network for rental assistance um it is still tied up in the legal department and has been there for months that program was supposed to to start in October and our phones are ringing off the hook with people facing evictions with nowhere to go with families with nowhere to go and there are $5 million sitting in this building when the portal the uh employees are hired um everything is ready to go except the city government and if we cannot act on these very very simple interventions how can we work together to improve our communities in the larger ways that we need to when we're displacing people from um from Woodhill homes and we know that we do not have the source of income protections for them allow to allow them to take their vouchers to other places where we're demolishing uid Beach and displacing hundreds of people from their homes when there is no affordable housing for them to land we have to move with expediency and understand the value of human beings their lives and their values just because they are not within our site does not mean they do not exist and the more we deny that the more people will press their existence upon you and you may not like

3:09 Permalink

Lucie Rose Shiffman

she's from Beachwood and she is here to talk about the topic of Israel and Palestine and uh she's representing jvp and uh she is not being paid by anyone hello sorry my name is Lucy schiffman and I was born and raised in the Cleveland Jewish Community for me this meant going to and graduating from a Jewish Day School attending Beachwood high school which at the time was 85% Jewish being on the regional board for the largest Jewish youth movement leaving for college and the peace score and choosing to come back to work for the Jewish Community it meant going to Israel four times before the age of 22 one of which on a trip called March of the living where I spent a week in Poland walking the path with 200 Holocaust Survivors and 10,000 Jews from aitz to birkenau before heading to Jerusalem to dance in the streets this trip solidified my desire for freedom to never again see the pain and suffering that a holocaust causes never again for me and never again for anyone these trips made me feel proudly Jewish but I never questioned how on not one of these experiences was I invited to meet with and learn from Palestinians it wasn't until I was 23 years old and participating in anti-racist organizer training that I learned about the nakba as the known as the catastrophe to Palestinians or what I had always celebrated as Yom hatma Israel's independence day I am here today to encourage you to educate yourselves in a way that I have been trying to do for the last four years I no longer take information blindly from sources I trust but instead question the common narratives that I know so well I have always been proud to be Jewish and a Jew from from Cleveland I am grateful that I was raised in such a strong Jewish Community with such strong Jewish values because it makes me feel safe I am here today because I can't stand by as my my community continues to act in ways that take away the safety of millions of others I'm here today because I believe in a future where all people Jews and Muslims and Palestinians feel safe I believe in a future where hostages are returned to their families and children are free to go to school and play outside I know that this future does not come from the continued War I know this future does not come from the blind support of a government whose own people have been protesting their actions for months and years I'm here to encourage you the city council of Cleveland to acknowledge that there are Jews around the world and here in Cleveland who stand against Hamas but also do not stand with Israel and their bombs against Gaza I'm here to ask you to acknowledge the massive loss of life we are seeing every day in Gaza I'm here to ask you that to honor the Jewish value of life to recognize that if saving one life means saving the world what does it mean to save a Million Lives I'm asking you to join with other Brave leaders in calls for a ceasefire thank

3:06 Permalink

Akshai Singh

you next we have ashy sing and he is from Cleveland Heights and he's here to talk about the safety of workers and local communities he was representing Starbucks Workers United and not being paid by anyone council president and Council my name is a Singh I'm a resident of Cleveland Heights I uh work at UH Starbucks in your District I believe council president um across from uh the Hal uh the Jewish Center in in uh for Case Western Reserve University um I'm a member of of Starbucks Workers United I'm also a member of democratic socialists of America both of these organizations have put out statements signing on to Jewish voice for peace and calling for a ceasefire these are both reflective of the over 75% of Democrats who support a ceasefire uh Across the Nation uh I'm here with my Palestinian union members in my heart I began actually practicing in a Reconstructionist Jewish temple four years ago after moving my partner at the time back from Pittsburgh after the attacks on the Tree of Life synagogue recently our uh Temple here in Cleveland signed on for the Jewish voice for peace statement and uh I and other members joined uh MERS kotes in DC on the capitol lawn I have fellow congregants in my heart and people uh who are here telling you also that ethnic cleansing is not a Jewish value nor does it secure the return of innocent Jews to their families nor does it make Jewish people safer here in this country especially if you're thinking about those families in Israel who've been uh whose members were taken hostage who've been explicitly protesting their government and the war war that has been carried out in their name unjustly I'm also a soccer coach I've worked in Slavic Village eight years at AB Hart in Fullerton I thank councilwoman Mau uh council's only Jewish member for calling for ceasefire I'm here with Palestinian footballers in my heart from Cleveland the best footballers who I've ever met in my life my friend MO muhamed whose six-year-old parents been fleeing safe house to Safe House in Gaza I don't know we don't know if they're alive to my friend Zayn who gave me this C on my birthday whose family in the West Bank face ethnic cleansing right now democracies from Mexico to New Zealand Brazil to Ireland France to South Africa have made this call democracies have made this call for a ceasefire for the return of hostages and the end of going end of ongoing genocidal actions unfolding against the Palestinian people this body Cleveland City Council can should and must pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire I wear this hoodie this number 48 was for 1948 my family my grandfather was decimated in in attacks in in Partition India my family has been through partition we've seen the horrors of partition and this body can recognize a moment that the Palestinian people have also been treated to the horrors of partition and something should be said thank [Applause]

3:04 Permalink

Dennis Ashton

you next we have Dennis Ashton Dennis ashon is from ukl and he's here to talk about homelessness he represents neok and he's not being paid by anyone Mr ashon I greet everyone my name is Dennis Ashton he him pronounce I'm here in the Cleveland in the streets I'm an Outreach worker the street Outreach we have a lot of people in here facing the same thing that they do over bosnik and everywhere you know but it's right here right here in front of our face if you ride the streets of Cleveland you see the homeless you see tents and people oh wild a tent you know and we have money tied up where we can't even open a shelter a woman and a kid sleeping in a car what can she do what can she do if we report her they're going to take the kids and you know that's no good that's the problem it comes from the beginning and the way we the child is brought up in this world we not a lot of Education this is what he what he or she finds out and I think it's a horrible type thing that uh we have people like that you know it's a horrible thing that I have to go home and wake up in the storm you know I'm nice and comfortable got my TV I'm cool you know but there's people out in the street that's trying to find warm sleeping on the concrete on the Great R of Cleveland Ohio this is a shame it's a real shame we should really really have that money and anything else resources I mean this the Browns we going to build the walkway I think I don't even know what it is you know what I'm saying that's cool it didn't take but a minute you know what I'm saying but to House people to build affordable housing that's not happening we haven't built one I think in 3 years you know and that doesn't leave any chance people lose hope and that's the worst thing in the world lose hope everybody's qualified everybody should have a home to go to and it's just not happening here and I can't understand the money that's being spent on different things for the city for Public Square this place that place but uh we have nothing for the homeless you know and that's a shame that's a real shame and with that thank

2:31 Permalink

Brian Houser

woo next we have Brian Hower Brian Hower is from Shaker Heights he wants to speak about ceasefire in Gaza he's not representing anyone and he um is not being paid by anyone I'm here as a Jew last spring I sat at my grandparents table for Passover and read from our old children's hak you reflected on The Exodus the Deliverance of the Jewish people from their enslavement to the promised land it's a powerful story testifying to the birth of a free people it's little wonder that Exodus was invoked to narrate the founding of the modern state of Israel in this modern Exodus the Jews are delivered from the horrors of the Holocaust and once again to the promised land but this telling erases the nakba the displacement and dispossession of 3/4 of a million Palestinian people from their cities and villages in 1948 the Noba was foundational for you cannot have a democratic Jewish state in a majority Palestinian land without excluding the Palestinians so militias made them refugees I mention the nakba because Israeli leaders are mentioning the nakba after Decades of nakba denial they mention it aspirationally one Minister said we're rolling out the Gaza nakba a concent member called for a nakba that will overshadow the nakba of 48 the deputy speaker of the knesset invoked the nakba to suggest Mass forced migration of gsin in the New Yorker an Israeli historian of the Holocaust finds in these references quote clear intent of ethnic cleansing countless Israeli leaders are telling us explicitly they won't abide the continued existence of gazin in Gaza they say and I quote Gaza should be erased flatten the strip burn Gaza now to legitimate their Total War they've repeatedly claimed all gazin are combatants from a liberal legislator quote the children of Gaza have brought this on themselves we he doesn't Israel have the right to defend itself the murder of Israeli civilians in October 7th was horrifying I feel the acute pain and fear that so often accompany that question from Jews living within the shadow of anti-Semitism but what I hear in the words of Israeli leaders is not defense and forget those words use your eyes the scale of the killing in Gaza its indiscriminate nature the carpet bombing the targeting of schools and hospitals on the flimsiest of pretexts none of this serves the safety or defense or survival of Jewish people in Israel or elsewhere I refuse to be silent while my Heritage is weaponized to justify the killing of thousands it shames us American Jews increasingly reject the story that these war crimes are required to guarantee Jewish safety and survival rather they accelerate the cycle of violence that endangers all of us nobody is free until everybody is free that's Fanny L Hammer you've been asked to call for a ceasefire the vast majority of Americans want it the longer you wait the greater our Collective shame free

2:38 Permalink

Estelle Raskin

representing anyone not being paid by anyone Miss Rasin I'm coming forward as a Jewish person in support of an immediate ceasefire I'm not here to tell you what you already know the death tolls in Gaza and Israel the worsening conditions caused by The Siege and the blockade the hostages the numbers of children dead and the unaccounted for bodies buried under Rubble what you may not know due to a monolithic rhetoric that is being weaponized to cause more violence is this anti-Semitism is a real lived experience that is not I repeat it is not the voicing of descent against systematic State violence as a Cleveland constituent I am here to tell you that your messaging is making me a Jewish American an immigrant and a descendant of Holocaust Survivors feel scared and intimidated into silence my great grandparents with their children in tow fled from Nazi occupied Ukraine bellarus and Poland calling out State violence and asking for a ceasefire to be rendered as anti-semitic is a reprehensible silencing political strategy that has to stop now I feel alienated and outraged by the hijacking of anti-Semitism this redefinition deflects from actual harm it is a gag order that incapacitates and immobilizes me from speaking and acting with my moral judgment and principles to demand the end of the indis murder of innocent civilians how will you protect me from my from actual anti-Semitism when you are being complicit in the perversion of that term how will you protect your Palestinian Arab and Muslim constituents from anti-palestinian hate and islamophobia when speaking out for their own safety is construed as anti-Semitism peaceful anti-war protests with Palestinians and Jews standing together have been deemed as hate crimes and so has any criticism of the Israeli government C blanch response to the attacks of October 7th as a Jewish American it is incumbent upon me to voice my outrage at how my tax dollars are being spent to wage war and kill thousands of children if the very core of my Judaism isn't to stand besides the oppressed because doing so is anti-Semitic then I am utterly lost and confounded by my identity if my safety means that others should be harmed I am lost you do not get to justify the use of violence in my name the name of my ancestors and I refuse to succumb to the political tactics of Silence at the cost of precious lives Palestinian lives are precious Muslim and Arab lives are precious Israeli and Jewish lives are precious my very history positions me to speak to you today I am a Jewish American an immigrant and a Clevelander and you are my Representatives I implore you to demand a ceasefire now [Applause]

3:00 Permalink