Supervisors pass resolution on Israeli-Hamas war

By Heather Michon

International affairs were at the top of the agenda at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 6), as supervisors worked to finalize and pass a resolution on the ongoing Israel-Hamas War.

This was not an easy task.

“I think it’s none of our business,” said Palmyra resident Curtis Putnam during public comment. “And we should stay out of it.”

Sam Richardson, who initially proposed the resolution at a November board meeting, thanked the members for taking the issue under discussion but had some notes on the language used in the document under consideration.

Pointing to a statement that Gaza civilians were not Israel’s enemies, “some of the residents actually are,” he said. “As a sociologist, I can guarantee you that the data collected is not using good methodology, and so we really don’t know what proportion of the general population is in favor of Hamas.”

Regarding another line in the resolution about encouraging and supporting the “efforts of global leadership to reduce harm to uninvolved civilians,” he argued that “global leadership” was an “ambiguous term. I’m guessing the UN is not a friend of Israel.”

He also said a statement about “the escalating violence, loss of life, and the impacts of this terror attack on innocent civilians,” could be “taken as an anti-Israel statement, because of course, many people have made a moral equivalence of Israel’s defense of itself with Hamas’s terrorist attack.

Supervisor Tony O’Brien (Rivanna) said the board had spent “probably a good hour in discussion” on the resolution and had shared their own thoughts and concerns over the language in the document.

Any softening of the language “I think was intentional on board’s part to be able to find some consensus, because is really complicated,” particularly given the fast-moving nature of events both in Israel and domestically.

O’Brien added that board members had received a number of emails from community members both for and against the resolution. 

“I think collectively the real message that we’re trying to send here is that we want to promote a solution for peace, and that certainly we can all recognize that terrorism is the worst way to enact that policy,” he said.

Supervisor Chris Fairchild (Cunningham) read the text of Congressional resolution H.888 as an example of a more forceful objection to the Hamas attack and statement of support for Israel. 

With Supervisor Patricia Eager (Palmyra) absent for health reasons, Fairchild proposed deferring the issue until the Dec. 20 meeting “to give us a chance to look a little more at the House resolution” and perhaps make changes to their own document “and give Mrs. Eager a chance to participate in something that seemed to be important to her as her term comes to an end.”

After about 20 minutes of conversation, Chair Mozell Booker (Fork Union) said that “we’re probably never going to satisfy everyone, but we need to work to get something that is satisfactory to us, that we can feel good about making that motion and standing behind those words and thought,” inviting Fairchild to craft a motion to defer.  

However, O’Brien pointed out that Supervisor Mike Sheridan (Columbia) was going to be away on the 20th, that it was possible Mrs. Eager would not be present, and that this was the final meeting for this current group of supervisors. 

With that, Fairchild withdrew his idea of deferral and made the motion to approve the resolution as written. The motion passed 4-0. The resolution follows.:

A resolution supporting Israel, condemning terrorism and protecting human rights

“WHEREAS, on October 7, 2023, during the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret, Hamas, an organization deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries, launched a coordinated attack on Israel, resulting in the kidnapping and slaughter of unarmed civilians; and

WHEREAS, the ensuing conflict has caused immense suffering, loss of innocent lives, and has inflicted widespread damage on a peaceful civilian population; and 

WHEREAS, the residents of the Gaza Strip are not Israel’s enemies, with many such residents opposing Hamas’ terrorist actions; and 

WHEREAS, we encourage and support the efforts of global leadership to reduce harm to uninvolved civilians; and 

WHEREAS, we are deeply concerned about the escalating violence, loss of life, and the impacts of this terror attack on innocent civilians; and 

WHEREAS, it is essential for local communities to stand together against acts of terrorism and express solidarity with those affected by such atrocities; and 

WHEREAS, the County of Fluvanna stands firmly against any form of terrorism, violence, and extremism that undermines the principles of coexistence, peace, and human dignity.

 Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors:

1. Stands in solidarity with the right of the State of Israel, as a sovereign nation, to defend itself and its residents against the despicable acts of Hamas and aligned terrorist groups, 

2. Stands in solidarity with the right of all people, to live in peace and security, 

3. Stands in solidarity with the Jewish and Muslim communities, and strongly condemns all anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment and actions.

The foregoing resolution was duly and regularly adopted by the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors at a meeting of the Board held on the 6th day of December 2023.”

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