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Bridgeport becomes first city in CT to adopt Gaza ceasefire resolution

Supporters of a ceasefire resolution in Gaza at the Bridgeport City Council chambers on Jan. 2, 2023 in Bridgeport, Conn. The resolution which is nonbinding, passed 14 to 2.
Meg Dalton
Connecticut Public
Supporters of a ceasefire resolution in Gaza at the Bridgeport City Council chambers on Jan. 2, 2023 in Bridgeport, Conn. The resolution which is nonbinding, passed 14 to 2.

The Bridgeport City Council overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution Tuesday calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Council members voted 14 to 2 in favor of the resolution which is non-binding. Some may ask what impact it may have on a war raging thousands of miles away.

And to some like Ibrahim Shehadeh, a member of the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center (BICC), it means a lot.

“The importance of this ceasefire resolution is to be taken to the congressmen, and to convince them, so they can take it to the president,” Shehadeh said.

Bridgeport is now the first city in the state to pass a ceasefire resolution. And it joins several other cities nationwide that have taken similar actions.

While the resolution is largely symbolic, it could have political effects in the biggest city in the state.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, a Democrat, and his supporters on the council backed the resolution. They spoke up supporting it at the city council meeting.

But not everyone in the audience was in favor of it. Retired judge Carmen Lopez, who lives in Bridgeport, took issue with it.

“I read that resolution and it is filled with historical inaccuracies and lacks balance and context,” Lopez said.

While the resolution’s impact is limited, there could be some real effects for Ganim.

He’s facing another mayoral primary on Jan. 23, months after a superior court judge tossed out the results of the previous September primary which he barely won, over absentee ballot fraud from members of his reelection campaign.

Tuesday’s resolution could work out well for Ganim’s campaign, according to Khaled Elleithy, the president of the BICC. Elleithy said Ganim’s endorsement of the resolution has gained him more supporters.

Elleithy cautioned his organization does not endorse political candidates.

“Yesterday’s events helped him to gain new grounds within the Muslim community,” Elleithy said.

One Bridgeport resident, Mohammad Shaham, spoke before the resolution was passed. Shaham said the city council should speak about what he called an ongoing genocide. Ceasefire supporters, he said, aren't necessarily Ganim voters.

But they could be, if Ganim threw his support behind the resolution, which he did.

“If the ears listen, then the mouth speaks, meaning if the mayor himself listens with his ears, the people of Bridgeport will speak with their mouth for him,” Shaham said.

Ganim, who is Lebanese American, denied he’s trying to curry favor with the Muslim and Arab American communities.

“It has nothing to do with that type of local politics, it has everything to do with global politics and humanitarian causes,” Ganim said.

“Even in a small place like Bridgeport, Connecticut, a loud voice of Muslim and Jewish leaders who come together and say we want to end the violence. It's a very important statement.”

Ganim’s support came after newly elected council member Jazmarie Melendez spoke up in favor of the resolution in December.

The resolution’s original language was criticized by local religious leaders for controversial language over the number of deaths, references to Apartheid, and the use of the word "occupied" referring to the West Bank.

Shehadeh didn’t shed any tears. He and other speakers have a personal stake in the resolution.

He’s Palestinian American and two of his wife’s uncles were killed in an Israeli airstrike at a Gaza hospital in November.

“If I don't ask it for the other peoples, it will keep happening to the other innocent people,” he said.

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