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Cambridge City Council Oversteps Its Boundaries

Three days ago the city council of Cambridge, Massachusetts passed a resolution regarding the recent events in Gaza. One should read the whole resolution to appreciate its utter absurdity, but to summarize, it calls for an “end to all attacks on civilians on both sides” and includes some extra sprinkles of criticism for Israel.

It then goes on to advise the United States federal government on several measures that ought be taken with regard to the conflict. Finally, it calls for the City Clerk to send a copy of the resolution to “President Bush, President-elect Obama, the Secretaries of State and Defense” and “to the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, together with a request that the congressional delegation take action on this issue and communicate to the Cambridge City Council what action was taken.”

It shouldn’t surprise any of us that the city of Cambridge would be significantly more critical of Israel’s defensive military actions than of the rocket attacks raining from the Gaza strip into innocent Israeli towns. Nor should it surprise us that the city council effectively defines Israeli military actions as intentionally targeting civilians. And indeed, it shouldn’t surprise us that nowhere in the resolution is Hamas even mentioned.

But where does the Cambridge City Council come off even discussing such a resolution? A nine-person city council, representing a population of just over 100,000 people (making it only the fifth-largest city in the state of Massachusetts), has no business passing a resolution on events taking place in another country 6,000 miles away. The resolution has absolutely nothing to do with the city of Cambridge.

The Harvard Crimson had a front-page article about it two days ago, quoting various city-council members who were critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the Middle-East situation, and expressing confidence that the Obama administration would “respond to our resolution and will respond to the conflict with a great deal of energy and creativity and determination.”

My hunch is that President-elect Obama will not have the time or patience to address the impotent product of nine bureaucratic pikers. That the city council believes Obama and the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation care to respond to such a resolution only serves to show how audacious hope can actually be.



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