Pro-Palestine groups call on Fresno-area politicians to join ceasefire efforts
FRESNO, Calif. – Pro-Palestine advocates are increasing the pressure on local politicians as the Israel-Hamas war stemming from Oct. 7 attacks by the Hamas group continues.
Earlier this week, a candlelight vigil was held in downtown Fresno where activists joined a growing call for a ceasefire in the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip. More than 150 people attended and called on Fresno-area elected officials to support Palestinians.
According to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, children make up nearly half of the 13,000 people killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza since the start of the conflict.
U.S. cities such as Oakland and Richmond in California; Detroit, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Akron, Ohio; Wilmington, Delaware; and Providence, Rhode Island have passed resolutions calling for a stop to the war in the Gaza Strip.
Reverend Simon Biasell, the head pastor of the Big Red Church in Fresno, said at the rally “Not another nickel, not another dime shall be used of our tax money to bomb innocent children.”
Critics in Fresno say responses from local leaders have been slim. Mayor Jerry Dyerhas been criticized for raising the Israeli flag, making insensitive comments as well as not engaging with the Palestinian community.
“I just want to be Palestinian here in Fresno,” said Layla Darwish, the founder of the Palestine Freedom Project. “What about me? What about my people? Why aren’t I represented?”
Dyer’s office did not respond to KVPR’s request for comment following the rally.
Local congressmen face criticisms
Activists have also called out U.S. Representative Jim Costa for not meeting with pro-Palestinian groups. Costa was also the only Democrat from California to vote to censure Palestinian congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Tlaib was accused of making comments to call for the “destruction of Israel” – a charge she denied.
Rep. Costa’s office did not respond to the specified criticisms, but sent an Oct. 8 statement condemning Hamas’ "terrorist attacks against Israel."
Elsewhere, Republican Congressman David Valadao reported this week his Hanford office was vandalized.
An image posted to the social media site X (formerly known as Twitter) depicted the entrance to the office splattered with what appeared to be red paint. In his social media post, Valadao said he “supports the right to peaceful protest, but violence and vandalism are never acceptable.”
As they face criticism, politicians are trying to manage a sensitive moment as emotions from Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian groups reach boiling points. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the U.S. made a speech Wednesday where he said antisemitism is also a growing problem following the war. He noted, however, that not all criticism of Israel's war is seen as anti-semitic.
This story is part of the Central Valley News Collaborative, which is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.