In a recent Teaneck Town Council meeting, discussions were dominated by two distinct resolutions concerning recent terrorist attacks in Israel, eliciting diverse opinions and deep emotions from the community.
Councilwoman Hillary Goldberg introduced a resolution condemning the terrorist attacks in Israel, specifically naming Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the European Union. The resolution emphasized the aftermath of these attacks, underscoring the death of over “1,400 Jews slaughtered simply because they are Jewish,” the kidnapping of more than 200 civilians taken to Gaza, and the long-standing U.S.-Israel alliance.
However, a “peace and unity” resolution authored by Deputy Mayor Danielle Gee provided a contrasting perspective. This resolution, while recognizing Teaneck’s diverse community, distinguished the actions of Hamas from the broader Palestinian and Muslim populations. It also focused on both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic threats, advocating for valuing lives on both sides and fostering understanding between different religious and ethnic groups.
Debate over the resolutions was intense. Council members clashed over the peace and unity resolution’s timing and phrasing. While some members expressed concerns about insufficient review time, others pointed out the expedited handling of Goldberg’s resolution. Eventually, the peace and unity resolution failed to secure a spot on the consent agenda due to an inadequate number of affirmative votes.
The community was deeply divided on the issue.
Salah Shabir voiced his concerns for the Palestinian community, stating, “Every day, they face adversities. Why is the council only paying attention to Jewish concerns?” He criticized Goldberg’s resolution as divisive and urged the council to support a more peace-centric resolution.
On the other hand, Yigal Gross, a Teaneck resident for eight years, expressed his gratitude. “I thank the council and Councilwoman Goldberg for their efforts with this resolution,” he remarked. Rabbi Fridman, in support of Goldberg’s resolution, recounted the hardships his ancestors faced in Auschwitz.
One resident criticized Goldberg’s resolution, believing it to be biased. “We need to differentiate between civilians and political entities,” she said, adding that “the media often fails to cover the Palestinian side adequately.” Another resident shared a deeply personal account, “I’m disappointed in our town’s response to the Middle East events. I had a Muslim friend who was a victim of a hate crime right here in Teaneck.” She emphasized the resolution’s one-sidedness and called for a more fair representation.
Dr. Noha Salomon expressed her strong opposition to Goldberg’s resolution, questioning the relevance of such a resolution in Teaneck. “How does this resolution impact our town thousands of miles away from the Middle East conflict?” she questioned.
Many speakers appealed for a middle ground. “While I condemn Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians, the resolution needs to acknowledge the significant Palestinian casualties as well.” one resident stated.
Howard Rose drew from the town’s history, emphasizing, “We need a resolution that merges points from both proposed resolutions. Unity is essential.”
Alex Goldstein drew a distinction, noting, “Being pro-Palestinian doesn’t mean being pro-Hamas. Hamas has hurt Palestinians more than anyone.”
Prishma Khan echoed the sentiments of many speakers, emphasizing, “Words matter. The Jewish and Muslim communities have more similarities than differences. We shouldn’t let divisive resolutions tear us apart.”
One resident, referencing his travels and description of Teaneck as “an oasis of human understanding,” urged the council to show concern for civilians on both sides of the conflict. He proposed the formation of a subcommittee to foster dialogue between Jewish and Muslim leadership in the township.
The council also touched upon topics such as lead-based paint inspections, regulations on drone technology, and the establishment of a fields advisory board. The meeting concluded with reminders about the subsequent scheduled date and well-wishes for all attendees’ safety.