Community Members Criticize Maplewood Town Council for Statements on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The recent Maplewood Town Council meeting was marked by heated discussions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on local communities. The council members and Mayor faced criticism from both Jewish and Muslim community members. Amid local issues such as traffic safety on Bowden Street and the amendment of employment positions and salary ranges, the council also addressed the controversy surrounding their previous comments on the Middle East conflict.

During the public comment period, Mikal Vman Lat, representing Jewish residents of Maplewood and South Orange, criticized the council members for their comments on Israel and Gaza. Lat accused the council members of inciting hate and violence through their lack of knowledge and accuracy about the situation. He emphasized that the term “apartheid,” used by some to describe Israel, was incorrect and aimed to delegitimize the country.

Lat’s comments sparked a broader discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Community members voiced their opinions, revealing a divide. Some advocated for support of Israel and condemnation of Hamas, while others emphasized the need to acknowledge the suffering of Palestinians and called for a ceasefire.

One resident, Fara CH, criticized the council’s silence regarding Palestinian casualties in Gaza, questioning whether the council’s leadership stood up for all people. Similarly, Seil Abud accused the council of alienating the Arab and Muslim community by not recognizing their pain and fear, and highlighted the increase in Islamophobia and feelings of threat within the community.

In response, Mayor Dean Dafis expressed an apology to both the Jewish and Arab community members for any harm caused by his language. He acknowledged the council’s lack of expertise in geopolitics and reaffirmed the council’s condemnation of Hamas and expressed solidarity with Israel.

Council members Deborah Engel and Nancy Adams also expressed their support for Israel, emphasizing their commitment to unity and community. Engel condemned the hateful rhetoric at a recent rally and expressed a desire to create an inclusive community. Adams echoed these sentiments and called for civil dialogue.

On local matters, the council discussed the traffic safety issue on Bowden Street with residents reporting an increase in speeding vehicles and near-miss accidents involving children. The council committed to investigating speed reduction measures to improve safety.

Additionally, the council passed an ordinance to amend employment positions and establish salary ranges within the township, aiming to address salary inequities and improve the work culture. The council also discussed the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and its application to fund curb cuts in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The meeting began with a community board appointment. Teddy Hager Paris, a long-time Maplewood resident, expressed his interest in serving on the community board on police. His commitment to supporting the local police force was well received by the council members.

Did we get something wrong? Let us know.
Mayor:
Dean Dafis
City Council Officials:
Deborah Engel, Nancy Adams, Jamaine Cripe, Victor De Luca, Amari Allah (Deputy Township Clerk)

Receive debriefs about local meetings in your inbox weekly:

Trending in
New Jersey:

Meeting Date
Filter by bodytypes
Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Board of Elections
Board of Health
Borough Council
City Council
County Council
Environmental Commission
Historic Preservation Commission
Housing Authority
Human Relations Committee
Insurance Fund
Land Use Board
Library Board
Municipal Alliance
Parking Authority
Parks and Gardens Commission
Parks Commission
Planning Board
Recreation Commission
Redevelopment Agency
Rent Leveling Board
School Board
Sewerage Authority
Shade Tree Commission
Trails Committee
Zoning Board
Filter by County
NJ
Atlantic County
Bergen County
Burlington County
Camden County
Cape May County
Cumberland County
Essex County
Gloucester County
Hudson County
Hunterdon County
Mercer County
Middlesex County
Monmouth County
Morris County
Ocean County
Passaic County
Somerset County
Sussex County
Union County
Warren County
Filter by sourcetypes
Minutes
Recording