The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors weighed in Tuesday, Oct. 17, on the conflict in the Middle East, unanimously supporting a resolution in support of Israel and condemning terrorist acts of Hamas — though the board heard an earful from dozens of residents who blasted the action as supporting what they called an Israeli “genocide” of Palestinians.
The resolution adopted by the board states that the county “unequivocally condemns Hamas for this deplorable and unprovoked attack on the State of Israel.” It goes on to state that the county “unequivocally supports the right of the State of Israel to exist as a sovereign and independent nation with full recognition of its borders and territory.”
Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, who introduced the motion and resolution with Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said the county is committed to opposing “hatred in all its forms,” noting that violence in the Middle East often translates into acts of violence and antisemitism in other parts of the world.
“We know every Jewish person in Los Angeles has a close personal connection to someone affected by this terrorism by Hamas,” Horvath said. “It may be a family member, a friend, a business colleague, a friend of a friend who has either been taken hostage, murdered by Hamas, or who has been called up to the Israeli defense reserves, or has been hiding in fear. …”
“We stand in solidarity with you,” Horvath said, adding, “I pray for a resolution that brings justice and peace to the region.”
Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles Israel Bachar spoke at the meeting, thanking the board for the resolution of solidarity, saying the country is coping with “the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, and the images of this massacre certainly echo ghosts of the past.”
“We are devastated but we are determined. In 1939 we couldn’t defend ourselves. In 2023, we can and we will,” Bachar said.
“Let me be clear, this is not about territory. This is about terrorism,” Bachar added. “… Stay strong with us. Stay the course. America and Israel are not just allies, we are family. As allies and as a family we start with a basic understanding that terrorism is a global threat. Hamas has no borders or boundaries. It affects us all. Standing by Israel now is literally defending the security of America, including right here in L.A. County.”
Dozens of public speakers, however, slammed the board for even considering the resolution, calling it a “one-sided” document that makes no mention of the Palestinian people or the number of Palestinians who have died in Israeli bombings launched in response to the Hamas terror attacks.
We “refuse to let our grief (over the Hamas attacks) to be weaponized to justify the murder of Palestinians,” one caller told the board during a roughly two-hour public-comment period, echoing remarks of many others who accused Israel of carrying out a “genocide” of Palestinians under the guise of targeting terrorism.
Several speakers noted that, during the board’s public hearing on the resolution, news broke about an air strike on a Gaza City hospital, which local authorities said killed hundreds of people. Israeli officials later denied involvement in the hospital bombing. Multiple speakers said the resolution essentially supports a “blank check” for Israel to carry out unfettered violence against innocent Palestinian people. They urged the board to reject the resolution and instead call for a cease fire and an end to violence against all people in the region.
“We have to value the innocent lives of both Palestinians and Israelis,” one speaker said.
Following the public hearing, Supervisor Holly Mitchell said still supported the original resolution, but said she will introduce a separate motion later in the meeting calling for an immediate de-escalation of military activity in the region and the entry of humanitarian assistance into the Gaza Strip.
Her comments did little to appease opponents in the audience, who began shouting at the board, which was forced to take a recess while deputies restored order in the meeting room. When the board reconvened, it quickly approved the Israel resolution, prompting more shouting by a woman in the audience and leading the board to again recess the meeting.