In a 16-1 vote, Jacksonville City Council showed its support for Israel by passing an emergency resolution Tuesday night, saying the city of Jacksonville mourns the loss of life and “unequivocally” stands with Israel as it defends itself.
The lone “No” vote came from Council President Ron Salem, who is of Palestinian Heritage. Salem did not explain why he voted no.
Salem’s parents immigrated to Jacksonville in the 1940s from Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, and Salem’s father was the first president of Jacksonville’s American Federation of Ramallah.
Salem was also a longtime president of the Ramallah American Club of Jacksonville.
Other council members did not say much about the emergency resolution but several people spoke before the meeting in support of the Palestinian people.
“I think it’s important to condemn Hamas, but we are not condemning Palestinians,” one person said during open public comment.
None of those who participated in public comment spoke in support of Israel.
Before the meeting, Mayor Donna Deegan released this statement:
I strongly condemn the terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel during this past holy weekend for the Jewish faith.
I mourn the loss of Israeli and American lives during the carnage that followed.
By taking women and children hostages, Hamas has engaged in unprecedented barbarism. I pray for the safe return of the Israeli and American hostages to their loved ones.
I also mourn the loss of civilian Palestinian lives.
Despite this horrific violence, I remain hopeful that a peaceful resolution to this conflict can be found. Jacksonville stands in solidarity with our Jewish and Palestinian communities who have deep and enduring ties to the region.
As Mayor, I remain committed to the safety and well-being of all our citizens.
Mayor Donna Deegan