City Business is Whatever the Community Cares About

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Americans have been in the streets since October 8 demanding an end to the US-backed Israeli attack on Gaza. They’re at sporting events and camping out in front of top politicians’ homes. They were at tree-lighting and caroling events over the holidays. They are at every public event President Joe Biden speaks at. They were at the Oscars. They are shutting down bridges and arms factories. They have been doing so for 180 days. Their message has been clear: no business as usual as a genocide occurs.

They have been unrelenting with three simple demands:

  • Permanent ceasefire now.
  • Allow sufficient aid into Gaza.
  • No more military funding for Israel.

The Champaign-Urbana community has been no different. We currently have an event almost every week supporting Palestinian rights and self-determination, demanding an end to the assault on Gaza and the occupation, and educating the public on Palestine. 1300 community members of different faiths, generations, and races have signed a petition supporting a ceasefire resolution. We had close to 700 people in the streets wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags just a month ago because this matters to the community.

So yes, we are taking this conversation to our city councils too, because we are constituents and we care very deeply about this issue. Palestinians may be at the heart of the movement but the movement itself is limited only to those with a beating heart. Our shared humanity is what moves us to action.

Citizens of Urbana contribute approximately $425,000 collectively each year through federal taxes so the US Department of Defense can provide Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid. Citizens of Champaign contribute approximately $1,288,058. Local city officials may not have world leaders on speed dial, but our cities are not disconnected from the world. We have a Caterpillar research facility affiliated with UIUC right here in Urbana. Caterpillar is directly implicated in the Israeli regime and the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes today. UI’s investment portfolio includes weapons manufacturers like Raytheon and Boeing. Our cities contract with companies that use software and electronics from Intel, another company that is complicit in the oppression of Palestinians and Israel’s apartheid system. According to a BDS Movement spokesperson, “Intel has been aiding and abetting Israel’s apartheid for decades, . . . and now it is directly feeding its war chest while it continues its unspeakable genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. Intel is complicit in Israel’s genocide and its underlying system of apartheid. Intel’s M.O. seems to be, ‘Make Apartheid Great Again!’”

Over 100 cities across the nation have passed ceasefire resolutions. This is city business because this is what the community cares about. We say enough and not in our name. Not another child murdered, not another wife widowed, not another man digging through the rubble for the remains of his family. Not another day of funding bombs that have killed over 15,000 children.

Dua Aldasouqi is a member of the Palestinian diaspora and CU Muslim Action Committee. She is dedicated to advocating for Palestinian rights and self-determination. She is a registered dietitian by profession and enjoys writing and performing poetry.

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