Maryland Resolution Calls for a ‘Ceasefire in Israel and Palestine”

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The swearing in of Maryland Treasurer Dereck Davis in the House of Delegates Chamber in Annapolis on Feb. 21, 2023.
Photo credit: Joe Andrucyk via Wikimedia Commons/Y2hyaXM

A nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire “in Israel and Palestine” was introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates late last month.

The resolution calls on the General Assembly to urge Maryland’s federal congressional delegation to support “an immediate, long-term ceasefire in Israel and Palestine, the return of all hostages and delivery of adequate humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.”

The resolution has been assigned to the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee. A date for the first reading of this resolution is not yet scheduled.

The resolution states that the General Assembly of Maryland “condemns violations of international law, including both the attack on October 7, 2023, by Hamas, and the Israeli military’s response on the 2.3 million Palestinian people living in Gaza.”

It also affirms Maryland’s commitment to combat antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian/anti-Arab bigotry.

Delegate Tiffany Alston (D-24) is one of the resolution’s sponsors. “It is important for the Maryland General Assembly to express its desire that the Maryland Congressional Delegation and President of the United States work with our partners in the region for an immediate cease-fire in Israel and Palestine,” she wrote in an email.

“I cosponsored the Resolution, because it is the right thing to do. War will not bring home the hostages, and in fact, it has actually led to the death of three. Diplomacy is the best way to return the hostages and ensure peace in the region,” Alston wrote.

According to Baltimore stations WBAL and WMAR, Delegate Gabriel Acevero (D-39) spoke on the House floor after a few individuals with relatives in Gaza shared their stories.

Whenever the words “Congress” or “President Joe Biden” were spoken, those family members shouted out, “shame.”

Acevero called on Maryland federal legislators to join Sen. Chris Van Hollen in calling for a cease-fire, according to those news reports.

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington Executive Director Ron Halber called the resolution “a total waste of time,” adding, “It’s offensive to some pro-Israel supporters. It has a lot of false assumptions, inaccuracies and is quite offensive.”

Halber believes the resolution does not have many supporters. “It’s a few people from what I’ve heard. This resolution, it’s going nowhere fast,” he said.

“The Maryland state assembly has a lot of issues to deal with as it is, and foreign policy is not any of them,” Halber said.

He would prefer the delegates work to increase funding for security at interfaith, nonprofit buildings, strengthen Holocaust education with the goal of reducing antisemitism, strengthen hate crime laws and give school principals greater flexibility to combat hate speech.

State Sen. Ben Kramer (D-19) also said that the resolution is gaining little momentum among legislators. “It’s an ill-conceived effort by people who are misinformed.”

“This resolution is clearly drafted with a very solid bias against Israel,” Kramer said.

He strongly doubted it would be adopted in the House of Delegates, adding, “I am unaware of any such resolution in the Senate.”

If such a resolution came before the Senate, “It would end up in the dust bin,” Kramer predicted.

Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, also criticized the state legislators who are calling for a cease-fire. “I hardly think anyone in the Middle East or Congress is looking to see what Maryland is saying in a non-binding resolution.”

A cease-fire would allow Hamas to continue attacking, which it has vowed to do, Libit said.
“There’s no question, it’s painful for us to see all the civilians who are dying, but it is all due to Hamas,” he said. By leaving civilians in hospitals and schools where Hamas has its weapons, “Their goal is to create civilian deaths.”

He added, “Everything that is happening in Gaza is a direct result of what Hamas has done.”

If the sponsors of this resolution want a cease-fire, why did not they call for an end to the rockets raining down in Israel, Libit questioned.

According to Libit, when members of the families of Israeli hostages addressed the General Assembly, about one-quarter of the legislators attended. But when the families from Gaza spoke, “very few legislators came to hear. That is my understanding.”

According to the resolution, “The majority of the world and the majority of Americans support an immediate, long-term ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine, and millions of people worldwide, including thousands of people in Maryland, have joined peaceful protests since October 7 to amplify this call.”

A more recent resolution that also was referred to the rules and executive nominating committee calls for the condemnation of Islamophobia, Anti-Palestinian Hate and Antisemitism. This resolution, which was introduced Feb. 6, also has yet to be assigned a hearing date.

It both condemns Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian hate and antisemitism and also reaffirms the General Assembly’s commitment to promote “a state that values diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.”

It calls on the General Assembly to encourage educational institutions, governmental bodies and community organizations to help raise awareness about the harmful effects of these hatreds.

The resolution sponsors want the General Assembly to support legislation and policies that address and counteract those three forms of hate and work toward “creating an environment that is free from discrimination for all residents in Maryland.”

Suzanne Pollak is a freelance writer.

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