Newsom Calls for Gaza Ceasefire

Gavin Newsom (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
March 22, 2024

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) in a Thursday open letter to California's Muslim, Palestinian, and Arab-American communities called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza.

"It is time to work in earnest toward an enduring peace that will furnish the lasting security, autonomy, and freedom that the Palestinians and the Israeli people both deserve," Newsom wrote.

Newsom said he supports President Joe Biden's call for an immediate ceasefire "as part of a deal to secure desperately needed relief for Gazan civilians and the release of hostages." His call followed Secretary of State Antony Blinken's announcement that the administration is seeing headway in negotiating a ceasefire deal. Hamas has repeatedly rejected previous ceasefire proposals that would release Israeli hostages, including one last month.

Newsom's letter, which expressed support and sympathy for California's Muslims in the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, comes after he has spent months sending mixed signals on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Immediately after the terror attacks, he made a high-profile visit to Israel, highlighting Israeli stories of "unimaginable heroism—and unspeakable tragedy." But he has also fundraised for a Democratic dark money organization that funds one of the state's most prominent anti-Israel activist groups, and he has awarded millions in taxpayer dollars to mosques helmed by anti-Semitic leaders. In January, he met with California's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), giving a high-profile platform to an outfit that federal prosecutors labeled an "unindicted co-conspirator" of Hamas front groups.

California CAIR executive director Hussam Ayloush, who downplayed Hamas's attack, praised Newsom for the letter.

"Governor Newsom's call for an immediate ceasefire embodies an undeniable truth—California will not shy away from standing for justice and human dignity," Ayloush said in a statement. "We hope this decision will stand as a beacon of compassion and moral leadership and compel other officials to do so as well."

Newsom's letter also praised the "progress" he is seeing at California universities, which have been rocketed by anti-Semitic activism—from a mob takeover at Stanford to a violent shutdown of an Israeli speaker at Berkeley and countless anti-Semitic protests at various University of California campuses.

"After I convened a meeting with leaders of the [University of California], [California State University], and community colleges, and after I wrote a letter urging universities to enforce campus safety policies and cultivate spaces for affinity and dialogue, we are now seeing progress across the state's universities," Newsom wrote.

California has been home to ever-intensifying anti-Israel activism since Oct. 7. Early this year, anti-Israel protesters shut down the California State Assembly, only weeks after Newsom canceled the traditional Christmas tree lighting at the Capitol building for fear of anti-Israel demonstrations. In November, progressive activists staged a sit-in at the state Democratic convention, forcing organizers to call off events. Newsom and other Democratic leaders failed to condemn the demonstration, which was decried at the time by Democratic Jewish lawmakers.