Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dearborn City Council approves Resolution urging an end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"Demonstrators march along Warren Avenue in Dearborn on Dec. 30 protesting Israeli attacks on Gaza that lasted 23 days and killed about 1,300 Palestinians."
PHOTO: Khalil AlHajal/TAAN


"Dearborn City Council passes Gaza resolution:

"Body condemns civilian deaths, urges humanitarian aid to Palestinians"

By Nick Meyer
ARAB AMERICAN NEWS (Dearborn, Michigan)

Friday, 01.23.2009

On the Web at:

DEARBORN — After having the matter brought to their attention last week, the Dearborn City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution condemning the attacks on civilians in the 23-day Gaza war and urging a truce and an end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The final vote was held on Thursday, January 22 and passed by a tally of 6 to 0.

Councilman George Darany said he was proud that the council responded to the way in which the city's Arab American community was affected by the "devastation in Gaza."

"It's important to let the 45 percent of the population know that we stand behind them on this issue," he said.

It shows solidarity between the council and the people of the city."

Darany also said he regretted that Dearborn wasn't the first city in America to pass such a resolution, as Cambridge, Mass. passed one on Jan. 12 calling for an end to attacks on civilians on both sides of the conflict.

An embossed copy of the resolution will now be sent to the Michigan Congressional Delegation by the Dearborn City Clerk as a result of the approval. Darany said the body would attempt to follow up on the appeals the resolution makes to Michigan's legislature.

"We'll follow up, see that they do. It's not just a piece of paper that we enter for the record.

"Being 100 percent of Arab descent myself, it makes me proud that we can count on the city to step up to the plate when need be."

The first resolution, proposed Tuesday, included the number of people killed in the war but Councilwoman Nancy Hubbard decided to table it in order to look further into the matter. Hubbard said she was concerned that the numbers would be disputed.

The final resolution didn't include the death toll but changes proposed by The Arab American News publisher Osama Siblani, who first introduced the resolution to Councilwoman Susan Sareini, were included. The statement "massive loss of life and the destruction of property" was added to the condemnation section and the addition of the language "particularly including Egypt and Israel" was added to the section concerning the allowance of Gaza to engage in free trade with the outside world.

The resolution also said that the Dearborn City Council urges the United States government to press for access to Gaza for journalists, a strong emphasis on humanitarian aid for Gazans, and a long-term negotiated peace and a two-state solution that acknowledges the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and freedom.

Siblani said he was satisfied with the passing of the resolution.

"I want to thank all those who voted for it and to thank the mayor (John B. O'Reilly) for his leadership of the city.

"In particular, I would like to express my deepest appreciation on behalf of this community to Councilwoman Sareini who worked very hard despite her medical condition to pass this resolution. We hope that other cities will pass resolutions and we will work to spread it to other cities as well."

Sareini talked about the message the resolution sent to the people of the city.

"This resolution reaffirmed Dearborn's support for human rights for all people," said Sareini. "It puts the administration on record recognizing the grievous impact this has had on the people of Gaza and the senseless loss of innocent life and destruction."

Sareini thanked Siblani for bringing the issue to the council's attention and also said she hoped that the community would continue to bring such matters to light when necessary.

"This doesn't change what's happening but it lends our voice to the many voices. The blockade has tremendously impacted women and children. I really don't believe that people understand the issue there."

--Khalil AlHajal contributed to this report

Dearborn City Councilwoman Susan Sareini introduced the resolution