Kalamazoo Jewish community rallies to reject anti-Israel legislation that called for an end to military aid from United States.

By JN Staff

After a divisive business meeting of the Kalamazoo City Commission on May 6, the city commissioners voted 5 to 2 against a resolution calling for an “End to U.S. Military Aid to Israel.”

The resolution was drafted by Kalamazoo Non-Violent Opponents of War, calling for an end in military aid to Israel until it “stops violating the rights of Palestinians.”

The resolution stated that the city of Kalamazoo “condemns Israel’s misuse of U.S. weapons to commit grave human rights abuses of Palestinians living under its 51-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

The defeated proposal also stated that the city of Kalamazoo “calls upon members of Congress to end U.S. military aid to Israel and redirect that money to unmet community needs until Israel abides by international law, stops engaging in human rights abuses against Palestinians and ends the military occupation of Palestine.

The resolution also called on Congress to “support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in safety and security, condemning violence by either side.”

The Kalamazoo Jewish community had little advance warning of the resolution and did not receive the resolution text until a few days before the vote. The community quickly mobilized and came together to defeat the resolution, according to a bulletin issued by Kalamazoo’s Congregation of Moses, signed by Elizabeth Grode and Rabbi Harvey Spivak of Congregation of Moses, Randy Lubratich and Rabbi Simone Schicker of Temple B’nai Israel, and Jacob Weintraub, president of the Jewish Federation of Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan.

Simone Schicker

According to news reports, dozens of people came to the two-hour city commission meeting to express their views, including Rabbi Schicker, who said, “It is incendiary because it will read as the city supporting Palestinians over Israelis, and in the United States, people who mean my people harm do not differentiate between Israelis who are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, Bedouin and other Americans.”

Many in the Kalamazoo Jewish community spoke at the meeting about the rise of anti-Semitism and the fear that the resolution could ostracize the community.

The bulletin issued by the Jewish community said, “We believe our broader Kalamazoo community can support dialogue and peacebuilding efforts between Israel and Palestine, for we, too. want to see peace for all the Palestinians and Israelis living in the region.

“The Kalamazoo Jewish community remains committed to being part of the solution and committed to helping the city of Kalamazoo to create meaningful relationships with the Jewish community and Israel through educational experiences. We will continue to proudly and authentically create a community that supports peace and honest dialogue and continue to work to make our community and our Jewish homeland safer and more peaceful for all.”