.Petaluma Activists Fear Silence More Than Hate

On Monday night, a coalition of concerned citizens presented a draft resolution to the Petaluma City Council calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the return of all hostages. It was the product of work by local activists who have felt at times nervous about publicly taking on the issue that has proven divisive across the U.S.

Sam, a long time resident of Petaluma, is Jewish-American. He has also been involved in “meetings of Jewish folks who are opposed to the occupation.” Like the other activists interviewed for this article, Sam asked the Bohemian not to use his last name, choosing anonymity for safety. He said, “I don’t want this to blow back on my family.”

“We did a lot of preparation around de-escalation of any hecklers,” said Luigi, a Petaluma Italian- and Palestinian-American organizer who participates in the weekly demonstrations downtown. “But we found an outpouring of support. A couple of people shouting disagreements, but more people stopping and asking how they can join.”

The Bohemian asked Hanan, another Palestinian-American organizer, why the prevalence of Ukrainian flags in Petaluma but not the same visible support of Palestine? She said, “We see in times like this that in Petaluma people are pro-white. [I]t’s not as progressive as people want to think.”

Asked if the Hamas attacks that triggered the current conflict complicated support of Palestine, Hanan said, “[Hamas only] complicates the response because there’s a lack of knowledge of the actual current situation in recent history,” asserting that the 70 plus year conflict has often been one-sided, favoring the well-funded and internationally supported nation of Israel.

The goal of the resolution is to put pressure on federal officials who are not taking action. A similar campaign was effective in helping end the Vietnam War.

An Obligation to Speak Up

“Memories of the Holocaust hung over my family while I was growing up,” said Sam, who is in his 70s. “Most of my family, who I never got to meet, was wiped out during the Holocaust.”

“I became an activist out of a strong sense of my understanding of Jewish values and traditions,” said Sam, recalling firsthand his visit to the Palestinian territories. “It was just intolerable to me as a Jewish person to think that my people were conducting this violent occupation of another people.”

“I’ve been a civilian in a war zone,” said Luigi, “and you always have somewhere to hide.” This writer has family in Kiev, Ukraine, and for years has heard the updates of family members retreating to the apartment block basement as drones and bombs rumble. “With 2,000 kilogram ‘bunker busters’ being dropped on residential buildings, then you have nowhere to hide.”

Support for “Israel’s right to defend itself” or the “liberation movement for the oppressed people of Palestine” are issues that quickly become mired in political and social abstraction. The coalition members want to bring attention and action to address the suffering of people on the ground in Gaza, Israel, and throughout the war-stricken region.

“One of the things that our group is trying to get the City Council to understand is that representation of Jewish people should not be limited to the synagogue,” pointed out Hanan. “There are many Jewish community members who do not go to the synagogue and are not religious. Their voices should be counted as well.”

Many Petalumans have to face this double-edged sword, dealing with rising antisemitism while also facing backlash from their own friends and families if they speak out about the actions of Israel, where the horrific attacks of Hamas that killed over 1,500 in one night have been answered with a military assault that has killed tens of thousands in the continuing response.

The difficult work will have to continue; on Monday night at a contentious meeting, the City Council of Petaluma declined to advance the resolution for a ceasefire and return of hostages to a vote, leaving the effort in limbo.


  1. And how does one sign up for their vigils? The US taxpayer has been paying for the oppression and violence against the indigenous Palestinians all of my long life and now is paying for the wholesale slaughter of children, genocide. I know we are a selfish bunch, but some of us do take personal responsibility for our violence against innocent children, women and men.

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  2. Thanks for being present at rallies despite the risks of being vocal. Domestic terrorism and threats lead to self-censorship. I have mixed feelings about this complex topic, but believe we can all support the human and shared golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. All people except corporations, which clearly profit by the manufacture and sales of weapons. Personally I don’t believe that corporations are people and champion the We The People Amendment signed by my Senate opponents Schiff, Porter, and Lee.

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  3. This group should start by denouncing Hamas.

    These Nazi Terrorists started the war and committed acts of genocide!

    There is no mention of 136 hostages that have being in captivity for almost 100 days.

    This was started by Hamas and will end once Hamas releases the Hostages
    and leaves Gaza.

    Free Gaza from Hamas.

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  4. No mention of the hatred and mass murder encouraged, carried out and cheered on for over 75 years by radical Islamists in most middle eastern countries against Jews, Christians and all non Islamic adherents. That is what started all of this. How convenient to ignore this completely and believe the perpetrator is the victim. Tik Tok generations and ignorant jump on any bandwagon without knowing any of the facts. Time to learn and open your eyes grasshoppers!

    Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas steals money and food from Gaza and uses it to build tunnels, rockets and bombs. It was Hamas that launched a terrorist attack on Israel. Hamas causes the death of it’s own citizens by using them as human shields (hiding behind them causing their death) and also hiding their missiles, rocket launchers and weapons behind ordinary citizens and continuously shooting at the Israelis, sending over 10,000 missiles (many of which mis-fire and cause destruction in Gaza only to blame it on the Israelis. Everything Hamas does is all at the expense of their own people.

    If you want peace, then you need to get rid of Hamas. Blaming the victim while ignoring the perpetrator will only get Gaza more of the same.

    Who constantly attacks who and who openly cheers and encourages terrorism against civilians all over the world? Radical Islamic and their sympathizers that’s who – now to include the new radical off the rails and off the cliff left (not to be confused with old school liberals who use common sense). They name schools, Islamic Temples, streets and erect statues to celbrate TERRORISTS and teach their children hatred and murder makes them heroes and martyrs! This is ubiquitous in most of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Palestine and most of the middle eastern countries teach the hatred of Jews and non-Islamic Westerners in public school children’s textbooks – look it up! Indoctrinating hate to children with cartoons depicting Jews and Westerners as their enemy hell bent on killing them! They are continually raising generation after generation of terrorists!

    Educate yourselves here my dear sheeple and think about learning about what you protest next time:

    Good short 8 minute Bill Maher video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP-CRXROorw

    Here are some citations:



    Israel was created and approved by United Nations and League of Nations EXCEPT all the Arab countries voted against it’s creation. Middle Eastern Arabs had no problem having the lands of the countries of Jordan , Syria Lebanon and others countries created in the region formerly called “Palestine” because they were Arab based. In 1948, the Arab countries called for all of the Palestinians living in the area that is now called Israel to leave because they were going to militarily invade and drive out all of the Jews and after they won the war the jews would be gone from Israel and the so called “Palestinian” Arabs could return to the land. Keep in mind Palestinians are simply Arabs and there has never been a “Palestinian” country, culture, language, or currency. At the same time all of the Jews living in te Arab countries were robbed of their money and possessions, killed, harrassed and otherwise driven out so they many of them migrated to Israel. When the Arab countries attacked Israel they lost. They kept attacking over the years and kept losing- over and over again -and Israel has been under ATTACK ever since. Mostly propaganda and victim playing are the stories of Jews driving the Palestinians out of their homes. However, there were a few smaller instances by handfuls of people here and there but nothing even close to as large as the Arab countries expulsion of the Jews living in their countries for generations. Citations:


    Learn the truth instead of repeating others baseless lies without even a few hours of investigation and learning the facts. You become part of the problem when you do that!

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