Mideast resolution yanked from Berkeley agenda

A Berkeley City Council resolution calling for investigations into the deaths of all Americans killed in Israel and the territories since the outbreak of the intifada was taken off the schedule and allowed to die.

Resolution No. 46 would have been up for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, but Councilwoman Betty Olds, the resolution’s co-sponsor, opted to yank it off the agenda.

“I didn’t want to offer more public time for the opposition to create a scene, so it wasn’t worth it. We didn’t have the fifth vote,” she said.

Olds and Councilwoman Mim Hawley had introduced the resolution on Sept. 9 as the alternative to a resolution calling for the United States to push for an investigation of the death of Rachel Corrie, the pro-Palestinian activist crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in March.

Following an emotional debate and a mind-numbing flurry of parliamentary procedures, the Corrie resolution passed, 5-4, and the Olds-Hawley resolution was deferred, 4-4, with one abstention.

“At the end of that meeting I felt that there was more hatred and animosity in that room than I’ve felt for a long time. If they think this was any way to promote peace, that’s pretty pitiful,” said Olds.

“As with all politics, you have to figure the votes. And I suppose we could have maneuvered to get that fifth vote, but by then what would we have? And it was outdated because we already approved the other” resolution.

Pro-Palestinian activists saw the Olds-Hawley resolution as an attempt to submarine the Corrie resolution and rejoiced at its failure. Its death completes what Steve Berley, Israel programs director for the Jewish Community Relations Council, conceded was “a complete loss.”

Deborah Louria, the JCRC’s East Bay regional director, said the Olds-Hawley resolution wasn’t good for more than riling people up at this point, and it was time for its supporters to cut their losses.

“It’s very important to keep perspective on this. We’ve been up against bigger battles and are likely to go up against bigger battles in the future,” she said.

“Surely this was important, but was it crucial? I think this was actually a symbolic measure … Berkeley is very unique in that it’s so very progressive. In many ways that’s a wonderful thing, but in other ways Berkeley is out of step with the rest of the country. We all know that.”

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.