Palestine, Israel, and Allegheny County Council

Allegheny County Courthouse as it does not look now.  Image in public domain.
Allegheny County Courthouse as it does not look now. Image in public domain.

All politics is local, they say. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, is the seat of Allegheny County, among 130 municipalities. The legislating body of the County is the County Council. (The City of Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have legislative bodies as well. There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania.)

Recently there was a rumor that the gentle County Councilpersons were planning to put forth a “motion” in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza.  Now, in Allegheny County Council (and nowhere else that I know of), a “motion” is a final action, like a resolution or an ordinance or anything else adopted officially.  So a “motion” gets entered for discussion and then may pass finally as an adopted motion.

Ultimately, they said, there was too much discussion among the councilpersons before the meeting, so the motion was not put forth at their regular meeting on Tuesday, February 20, 2024. But 93 speakers had signed up to speak, so at the end of the regular meeting, as is their practice for items not on the agenda, they heard the many registered speakers who were in attendance.

The vast majority spoke in favor of the Council endorsing a ceasefire. There is excellent coverage of the meeting by Dave Rullo in The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

I have spoken countless times before Allegheny County Council, the most recent having been in 2015 about keeping Christian Nationalism out of the Council Chambers. I requested they say “no” to posting a permanent sign saying “In G-d We Trust,” a foot in the door toward legislating religion into civil laws.

As I sat among my neighbors, I noticed many fellow planned speakers with whom I’ve worked in prior years toward bringing forth and/or resolving all sorts of matters: civil rights, LGBTQIA+ issues, domestic violence, countering discrimination against Muslims, using decent voting systems, and so forth. We greeted each other cordially.

In this case, we were speaking on different sides of an issue that truly has far more than two sides. What I said at the meeting in my three allotted minutes is below.  What I was feeling was sadness that many of my colleagues are not convincible on this. Is the propaganda too heavy? Are Russia and Iran finally winning the propaganda war through Instagram? These are our brothers and sisters! Although I understand the reasons, I don’t understand why we are fighting. Why haven’t we figured out how not to fight?

Yet also I was thinking about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which was a military attack on a military base and killed 2,403 persons including 68 civilians. I was thinking about the response of the United States to this attack, and was comparing it to Israel’s military response to an attack that was not upon a military installation, it was a ravaging and murdering of civilians enjoying life. I was considering the small size of Israel relative to the number killed, injured, taken, and uprooted, compared with the size of the United States in 1941. Should there be a different standard applied to Israel? To Jews? Are we supposed to know better what else we can do? Is it written somewhere?

Here is what I said.

Honorable Councilpersons, I don’t know anything about waging war.

I do know that calling for a “ceasefire” and aiming it primarily at the victim of the instigating attack is unlikely to produce a universally positive result.

Who should stop firing? If Israel stops firing, Hamas is likely to continue attacking, just as they have been doing before and after October 7th.  And there is no guarantee they won’t decide it would be a good time to kill the remaining hostages.  They are terrorists!

Israel is continually shot at, from various directions. That’s why they have Iron Dome protecting them, why they have the military active all the time.

Gaza has received zillions of dollars from other countries and organizations over the years, and what have they done with it? They have purchased munitions and built tunnels into Israel. They have taught their children that Jews are temporary, and must be helped off the land – pushed into the sea – so that they can take it back.

Never mind that Jews were there first, before there were Christians, before there were Muslims. Never mind that Jews around the world have been donating work and money toward building up the land, especially since the 1800s. Never mind that Chaim Weizmann bought the land with his saltpeter formula that helped the Allies win World War I.

This is not colonialism, as the current propaganda suggests. It certainly is not lighter-skinned people subordinating darker-skinned people. Folks in that region don’t divide themselves by race that way. And the prisoners they want Israel to release are not hostages ripped from their homes, they are legitimate prisoners.

I’m not giving in to propaganda slurping, from any side of the political spectrum.   And neither should you.

I would rather see you figuring out why Westmoreland County is so much better at recycling than we are, rather than getting involved in international politics.  Nevertheless, where was County Council when Hamas was spending all that money waging war rather than building infrastructure? Where are you on calling out Russia, demanding a ceasefire in Ukraine?

When people here in America shoot at us for being Jewish, we need to know there is a country that will take us in if we need it. When our Congresspersons refuse to listen to heads of state from Israel and still vote that Israel is wrong, it scares us as Americans. Antisemitism is on the rise, and the propaganda feeding it is coming from all sides.

We need peace, everywhere. But calling for an undefined ceasefire is not the way.

About the Author
Author of POCKETS: The Problem with Society Is in Women's Clothing (, Audrey N. Glickman has experience as a rabbi’s assistant, in nonprofits, government, advertising, and as a legal secretary. A native Pittsburgher, Audrey has served on many boards, organizations, and committees, advocating for many causes, including equal rights, civil rights, secure recountable voting, preserving the earth, good government, improving institutions, and understanding and tending to our fellow human beings.
Related Topics
Related Posts