Orange County City To Vote on Resolution That Accuses Israel of Ethnic Cleansing

Santa Ana city council calls for ceasefire between Hamas and Israel

A pro-Palestinian protest at UC Berkeley, Oct. 25, 2023 (Kevin Fagan/Twitter)
December 1, 2023

One of the largest cities in Orange County, Calif., is set to vote next week on a Gaza ceasefire resolution that accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing and minimizes Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attacks, according to the finalized language posted to the Santa Ana City Council website.

The resolution, which has been promoted by California's Council on American-Islamic Relations and other far-left groups, declares Santa Ana’s "solidarity with the Palestinian people" while charging Israel with "ethnic cleansing" and collective punishment, a war crime, of Gaza residents. The document describes Israel's fight against Hamas as "a relentless and ongoing campaign … killing tens of thousands of civilians in the occupied territory." The document finally invokes the "historical memory of the Holocaust" to demand that Israel stop fighting Hamas.

Santa Ana is poised to debate this resolution on Dec. 5 as a growing number of left-wing and Democratic activists foment anti-Israel fervor around the state. Earlier this month, anti-Israel activists shut down the California Democratic convention and allegedly harassed Jewish delegates.

Two other California cities, Oakland and Richmond, have passed their own calls for a ceasefire. Just this week, debate over whether Oakland’s resolution should include a condemnation of Hamas for its terror attacks that triggered the conflict devolved into anti-Semitic rants. The council ultimately refused to censure Hamas.

As more cities bring these ceasefire resolutions forward, some experts warn they will rip communities further apart.

"By taking a stance on these issues, local officials may curry support with some of their electorate, but at the cost of unnecessarily alienating others," said David Glazier, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "This can only heighten tensions within their communities and ultimately increase the challenges associated with carrying out effective local governance. Why would we think it helpful for public officials to do that?"

Santa Ana’s measure was introduced by city council members Benjamin Vazquez and Johnathan Hernandez. They argued that Santa Ana, a Latino-majority city of some 310,000, should weigh in on the Israel-Hamas conflict because "international affairs have a significant impact on domestic and local matters," and also because a Palestinian activist was killed in Santa Ana in a 1985 bombing.

Vazquez and Hernandez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ahead of the vote, the draft resolution has unsettled Jewish residents.

Shelly Aks, an Israeli by birth who has lived in California for nearly a decade, said the document "terrifies" her and has made her question whether she and her family should leave Santa Ana, where they recently relocated to be nearer to their children's schools. She has already removed a plaque with a Jewish prayer that she hung outside on her door out of fear for their safety.

"I told my husband, ‘What do we do?’" Aks told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. "We have to find a different place to live because if [this resolution] is something that even comes to the table—I pray and hope that it will not go through—but even putting it on the table as an option is already terrifying."

Santa Ana was already under fire for anti-Semitic curricula in its schools. In September, Jewish groups headed by the Anti-Defamation League sued the Santa Ana Unified School District for approving ethnic studies courses with anti-Israel themes and allowing the heckling of Jewish community members who spoke up against the curriculum.