SWP campaign in Oakland joins protests against attacks on Israel

By Maggie Trowe
January 22, 2024
Margaret Trowe, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s District 12, speaks against San Leandro City Council motion for an Israeli cease-fire, which would only strengthen Hamas.
Margaret Trowe, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s District 12, speaks against San Leandro City Council motion for an Israeli cease-fire, which would only strengthen Hamas.

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — The Socialist Workers Party campaign joined other supporters of Israel’s right to exist as a refuge for Jews to speak out against Jew-hatred at City Council debates here and in Alameda Jan. 2.

This author is the SWP candidate for U.S. Congress in District 12, which includes Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. Supporters of the SWP campaign have attended meetings in all four cities to oppose resolutions to demand Israel agree to a “permanent cease-fire.” The Israeli government launched a military effort to crush Tehran-backed Hamas after the Jew-hating outfit sent death squads from Gaza to kill as many Jews as they could in their Oct. 7 pogrom. Some 1,200 were killed and more than 200 taken hostage in that attack.

In Alameda, nearly 200 people came to debate a letter proposed by Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft that would call on Washington to support an immediate cease-fire. While condemning Hamas for its “barbaric attack” Oct. 7, the letter focuses its fire against Israel’s “seemingly unrestrained violence” for “the ongoing destruction of Gaza and escalating humanitarian crisis.”

More than one-third of participants spoke against the letter, including four supporters of the SWP campaign.

Among those who applauded Ashcraft’s letter was Seth Morrison, who identified himself as Jewish. He wore a “Not in our name” T-shirt, and called on people to “stand up against Israel’s genocide.”

The slander that Israel carries out genocide is bandied about freely by cease-fire proponents. In fact, Hamas plants its soldiers and weapons in hospitals, schools and densely populated neighborhoods, guaranteeing civilian casualties, while Israel’s military urges civilians to evacuate before attacking.

“The word genocide is used against Israel,” Robert Bonham countered. “I would ask you to read the Hamas charter and Israel’s declaration of independence” to see who calls for genocide.

“Hamas invaded Israel unprovoked and carried out a pogrom,” SWP member Jeff Powers said. “Who’s responsible for the civilian deaths? It’s Hamas. It will be a victory for all if Hamas is defeated.”

Barbara Schick also blamed Hamas for the violence. “Since 2005 there have been at least six cease-fires, all broken by Hamas,” she said. Another cease-fire now would only allow Hamas to regain strength for further attacks. “Both Palestinians and Israelis, Jewish and Arab citizens alike, deserve a chance to determine their destiny without interference from Hamas.”

“There’s nothing about the Oct. 7 attack that has anything to do with saving the Palestinian people,” retired union machinist and SWP campaign supporter Raúl Gonzalez said. “There are no freedom fighters in Hamas. Its foundational documents call for driving all Jews out of Israel, as do Iran’s rulers.”

Several speakers told of escalating attacks on Jews in the Bay Area. “Since Oct. 7 I have seen swastikas spray-painted on the walls, I’ve been verbally attacked for wearing a Star of David,” eighth-grader Eli Fuchsman said. “A letter calling for a cease-fire argues against Israel’s right to defend itself from blatant terrorism.”

“I work with Jewish teens,” Karen Fegenberg, an Israeli American and veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, said. “One teen was yelled at recently by a passerby for being a Zionist for wearing a star of David. Another was told by a classmate it was a shame Hitler didn’t finish the job.”

After hours of debate the council voted 3-1 against sending Ashcraft’s letter.