Ann Arbor School District Passes Resolution for Cease-fire in Gaza After Heated Public Comments

January 18, 2024, 9:55 AM

Board member Rima Mohammad

As the Israel-Gaza war goes on, the fallout continues to metastasize around the world including here in Michigan.

The latest: The Ann Arbor school district, with 17,000 students,  became the first in the state on Thursday, shortly after midnight, to pass a resolution calling for a bilaterial cease-fire in Gaza and Israel, and encouraging its educators to discuss the international conflict in classrooms, writes Jennifer Chambers of the Detroit News. The resolution pledges to provide teachers with tools, professional development and resources to support staff in their classroom dialogues.

The 4-1 vote came after two hours of contentious comments. Two members abstained.

"What is a cease-fire? It’s a call to ease the pain for everyone to promote peace, humanity and moving forward," said Trustee Rima Mohammad, who is Palestinian, according to the News. "This is needed right now to heal the community."

Tasneem Madani, a student teacher at Ann Arbor schools, testified that there has been a sharp increase in Palestinian racism in schools, according to the News.

“Our students are watching us,” she said before the vote. “Our students deserve to be equipped with the tools to navigate complex issues that have an immediate impact on them, and it is my responsibility particularly as an English teacher to help students develop the skills to engage in informed academic dialogue in safe spaces.”

District parent Abby Rosenbaum, who spoke at the meeting, questioned the wisdom of the resolution, according to the News, asking: 

“Who is going to be educating and supporting our staff? Who will deal with the personal bias, misinformation and emotions that will no doubt arise? Is this really what you want to unleash in our classrooms?” 

Earlier this week, Rabbi Nadav Caine of Beth Israel synagogue in Ann Arbor sent an email to the congregation, according to The Ann Arbor Independent, saying the "resolution is not really about taking a moral position. Rather…this resolution is meant to divide the community and stigmatize our Jewish children, who are already a woeful minority in their schools, when AAPS has faced no more pressing time in its history to focus on the academic and socio-emotional deficits of its children following the pandemic.”

The war in Gaza has moved into its fourth month. 

It began after Hamas entered Israel on Oct. 7 and killed about 1,200 people and then took about 250 hostages to Gaza. Israel says some of the people, including babies, were burned and some women were gang raped and sexually mutiliated. More than 100 hostages remain in the Gaza.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 24,000 Palestinians have died since the onset of the conflict. The figure is not broken down into civilians and Hamas soldiers. The United Nations estimates that about a quarter of the Gazan population is starving, and many have been left homeless.

Israel says that it has killed about 9,000 Hamas soldiers.

Hamas has vowed to attack Israel again like it did on Oct. 7. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose political future is shaky at best, has vowed to destroy Hamas, which at the last count, had built between 350 and  450 miles of tunnels. The Gaza Strip is 25 miles long. 


Read more:  Detroit News

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