Some residents wanted statement on Gaza conflict

The Beacon City Council will not draft a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. The decision, reached Tuesday (Feb. 13) during an emotional workshop meeting, angered many of the people who had filled every seat in the City Hall courtroom. 

The council was inundated a week ago with comments from residents seeking a resolution similar to one adopted by the Newburgh City Council last month. On Tuesday, Paloma Wake, an at-large representative who has said she is in favor of a resolution, made the case to her colleagues. 

Wake said that “upward of $200,000” in taxpayer funds from Beacon “have been going to fund this conflict” — a reference to a calculation by the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights of the local contribution in federal taxes to $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel — and called Beacon “a powerful voting bloc” for the federal elected officials who would receive the resolution. “We have stood for human rights and diversity and in solidarity with our many interconnected communities here,” she said, referring to a 2017 resolution in which the council declared Beacon a “safe and welcoming” place. “I see this as a continuation of that.”

Mayor Lee Kyriacou said that while he abhorred Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the escalating violence that has come in response, he took issue with the reference to the “safe and welcoming” resolution, which he drafted. He said it states only that “no city employee would assist federal officials” in detaining immigrants without documentation, “absent a court order. That’s an absolute, direct connection to what we do” in Beacon. 

“I don’t see [a connection] here,” he said. “I don’t think we’re making all of our residents safe this way. I don’t think we’re making all of our residents welcome in this way.”

Dan Aymar-Blair, who represents Ward 4, said the council would need foreign policy advisers to write a resolution about an international conflict. He conceded that he is horrified by footage of the violence shared on social media, but said “it doesn’t go anywhere; it doesn’t have any direct impact” for the City Council to weigh in. 

“This is a conversation that is and should be happening in hundreds of thousands of rooms around the world, but this is the only room where we can talk about the business of the City of Beacon,” he said. “It’s hard to say that you care about something but that you’re not going to do something about it. I just think it’s the wrong thing.”

Other council members expressed similar sentiments. Amber Grant spoke about the need for dialogue among community members but added: “I don’t think that this room is necessarily the place where that happens.” Aymar-Blair said he has been in touch with Brent Spodek, the rabbi at the Beacon Hebrew Alliance, to discuss ideas. 

Wake pushed back. “We have a role and responsibility to primarily tend to the day-to-day operations of the city but also to tend to the people of the city,” she said. “I don’t think that there is a clear line between our discussions of parking minimums and our discussions of our shared humanity in the city.”

As Kyriacou spoke, angry audience members began to leave. “You’re all cowards; spineless cowards,” one woman shouted. Another man called out: “Represent us!”  

Jeff Domanski, the Ward 2 member, asked if the council could take a break before moving to the next agenda item. After several minutes, Kyriacou gave the other council members the option of ending the meeting or discussing the remaining items. 

“My perspective is to carry on with the business of the city that we are here to do, regardless of our emotions,” Grant said. “I agree with Amber,” said Wake. 

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Simms has covered Beacon for The Current since 2015. He studied journalism at Appalachian State University and has reported for newspapers in North Carolina and Maryland. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Beacon politics

Join the Conversation


  1. Dan is a great example of what political aspirations can do to you. One day you are chaperoning grannies to the border to protest unjust immigration policy and the next you find yourself a Democratic shill.

  2. It wasn’t easy for anyone at that council meeting — lots of pain to go around. The fact is, multiple communities are feeling alone or abandoned, feeling an absence of support or understanding from their friends and the larger community, and suffering every day in fear for their loved ones and anxiety about what comes next — all on top of revulsion at the violence and suffering overseas. The stakes feel high for these communities. If the city has a role to play in supporting these communities, it’s important that it not do so in any way that is divisive or demonizes people in our community.

    Among the people of Israel and Gaza, there are many with decades of experience working toward peace and tolerance to be able to live side by side. It’s hard work. It’s unlikely we can contribute in a wholesome way by bringing a spirit of conflict to our local communities.

  3. As someone who desperately wants an end to the war in Gaza, I believe the City Council reached the right decision in declining to issue a ceasefire in Gaza resolution.

    Issuing resolutions regarding international affairs is not the purview of the City Council, is a distraction from its responsibilities to all Beacon residents, and would do nothing to aid the Biden administration’s ongoing effort to broker a ceasefire. No one should expect City Council members to be international affairs experts. And as there are so many horrors in the world, where would the City Council draw the line if it were to go ahead with a resolution regarding this one?

    I’ve seen a draft ceasefire resolution put before the City Council for its consideration and am glad the council rejected it because I found two aspects troubling. The first is it failed to acknowledge that Hamas started this war on Oct. 7, nor did it condemn the sexual assault, mutilation, and murder of Israeli women, the decapitation of Israeli babies, or the murder of many other innocent Israelis by Hamas. It also refused to acknowledge that Hamas is using its people as human shields, thus contributing to the devastating loss of life.

    The second aspect of the resolution I found troubling is the absence of any condemnation or even mention of the horrific Oct. 7 invasion and attack on Israel by Hamas. It also places no conditions whatsoever on this terrorist organization. Nor does it call for Hamas to return the remaining Israeli hostages, to renounce its charter calling for the destruction and annihilation of Israel, or to change its practice of spending billions of dollars in international humanitarian aid for military purposes rather than to help the Palestinian people.

    Finally, there is no language at all supporting reconciliation towards a two-state solution, which is the only possible path to peace. Instead of pressuring local council members, wouldn’t it be more productive to show support for the international diplomats and leaders actively working to bring a peaceful end to this crisis?

  4. I am very glad the City Council did not vote for a cease-fire resolution; I don’t see it voting against Russia’s ongoing genocide and the war in Ukraine. At least if they voted there, they wouldn’t be supporting antisemitism — because that’s all this pro-Palestinian garbage is: antisemitism.

    Where were the protestors on Oct. 7 when Jewish children were being killed and women violated horribly? Where were they when Syria was happening and thousands if not millions of Muslim children were being murdered? How about the recent genocide in Azerbaijan? Where’s the resolution on that? Not enough news coverage to matter? What about the treatment of Kurds? Still not enough news import? It’s only Palestinians who matter? It’s bad enough that Beacon is a “sanctuary city.” We don’t need to go for all the Olympic medals in disgrace. There’s some sense left yet in the council.

  5. Jews speak with many voices from varying values and politics. Like other Jews of our age, my husband and I grew up in the dark shadow of the Holocaust. As Jews, we learned many vital lessons that we’ve carried through our lives into retirement and in how we raised our two children.

    During the Civil Rights Movement, segregationists argued that “you can’t legislate people to love one another.” Maybe not. However, in the face of pitched conflict, the moral and political power of direct action and legislative demands for new laws led to an end to egregious de jure discrimination. We know that no path to mutual empathy and respect, peace, democracy and justice for all is possible while people are killing one another.

    Silence in the face of injustice is acceptance. For this reason, we call on the City Council to stand up and pass a cease-fire resolution. [via Facebook]

  6. The question of a resolution for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza has become a very live one in our city. Those discussing the question have been vocal in pointing out the diversity of identities involved in the conversation, so for the benefit of those who are tracking this spectrum, know that I am neither a Jew nor a Muslim. I have no overseas loved ones to speak of. I am an atheist whose loved ones are by and large here in this community, and up to this point I have been a mere observer of this conversation. My perspective as an observer is that of one who does not consume social media; the only manifestation of this conversation I see is what shows up in my community, and what I have seen disquiets me.

    Like so many of my neighbors, following the news out of Gaza does not move me to feel a singular emotion, but an entire range of emotions. I feel angry. I feel hurt. I feel resolved. I feel all of those things about the ongoing disaster in the Gaza Strip, and I feel all of those things about the debate over a resolution here in our city.

    I feel angry at Council Member Paloma Wake for proposing a resolution text that mirrors a substantial portion of the text from the city of Newburgh’s resolution but removes all mention of Israeli hostages. For proposing a text that removes mention of antisemitism while preserving mention of Islamophobia. I am angry at Council Member Wake for proposing this utterly irresponsible departure from a universal call for the end of all suffering in the conflict. Instead platforming a clear shift toward a targeted call for a selective end to the suffering. I am angry that the at-large councilperson, in the same meeting that accepted public comment for this controversy they brought to Council, openly stated that they do not even keep regular office hours when constituents might address concerns like these with them.

    I feel angry that the supporters of a resolution stood in a room across the aisle from a much smaller group of their neighbors who marginally disagreed with them and abused the language of speaking truth to power to make that small group feel even smaller. I’m angry that the supporters of a resolution have made the shameful mistake of treating the righteousness of their ends, which absolutely no one in the discussion has disagreed with, as being indivisible from the perceived righteousness of their chosen means. I feel angry at the City Council as a body for claiming that they have no role to play in this question while the residents of the community which they lead hurt and suffer. I’m angry that the same council that established a Human Rights Commission for our city is now simultaneously making frivolous claims of its own impotence, as if we don’t all see this for the abdication that it truly is.

    The emotions never dwell in one state though. After the anger comes the pain. I felt pain as I watched people struggle through fear to speak their truth, while their neighbors scoffed at and disregarded the authenticity of that experience. I felt deep-cutting pain as multiple people shared their stories of Islamophobia, which we should never hesitate to unequivocally condemn as utterly deplorable in all its forms. I feel the pain of my neighbors, who have so many loved ones who are directly caught in the crosshairs of collective punishment. I feel the pain of my neighbors, so many of whom, perhaps along with their loved ones, have suffered for too many years before this particular escalation of the conflict even began. Suffered, it must be said, at the hands of a right-wing Israeli government whose inhumane actions have demonstrated an alarming contempt for international law, and to whom our federal government has shamefully provided cover.

    Where I fully agree with the supporters of a resolution is in the fact that we cannot wallow in our anger or our pain. We must stand up and we must act. In this I feel resolved. Our City Council should find the backbone to feel the same. We should act on behalf of our neighbors who feel this pain and this suffering, without giving favor or priority to one neighbor’s suffering over the other’s.

    Our City Council is a constituent body of New York’s 18th congressional district. This not only gives it standing from which to call for action, but a specific agent upon which the action may be called. If there truly is a fear on the part of council that addressing this issue would not leave any time to address parking, then it should establish an entirely new Human Rights Commission and vest it with the mandate to explore the best course of action to bring healing to our community. If this means they draft a resolution, then so be it.

    So long as we all agree as a community that they must not inherit any language from the disgusting text proposed by Council Member Wake which purposefully wrote out specific groups of people who we know are also suffering in the horrific escalation of this conflict. Not only should the council reimagine a Human Rights Commission to address this issue but to become a permanently established vessel for all of our community groups who have no choice but to bring conflicts and suffering home with them. Through this vessel, our community groups will know that they have a channel through which to seek collective action, and our community at large can begin to foster a culture of continuous healing.

  7. As an American, I know that I am not alone in questioning our nation’s priorities. Why do we always have money for destruction? Why are the poorest people the ones who suffer most? Why do we not have money for health care, food, education, roads and parks? Why is the U.S. supporting the destruction of the Palestinian people rather than coming to their aid? Why is the Congress unwilling to govern? When will we learn that great responsibility is inseparable from great power? Where are the best and the brightest that we so desperately need?

    True leadership is about building consensus. Consensus comes through honest dialogue. These times demand leadership. We should not have to ask the people that we elected to act in good faith. They have been given the authority and mandate to come together and work on the problems so clearly in need of their attention. This is the America that we deserve.

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