How the suburbs are addressing calls to take a stance on Gaza

Suburban village boards and city councils continue to face calls to pass resolutions seeking a cease-fire in Gaza, but so far just one has shown any interest in weighing in on Middle East politics.

The inaction has led to dismay among cease-fire advocates. In Schaumburg and Naperville, several shouted “Shame!” at elected leaders as they adjourned without making plans to pass a cease-fire resolution.

Only Bolingbrook has addressed the conflict in Gaza, and only then as part of a broader resolution condemning violence against civilians there as well as in Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen.

“While The Mayor and Board of Trustees do not have any direct role in foreign policy, they express their desire for all global conflict to cease,” the resolution reads.

Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta said the village is the third-most diverse community in Illinois, and the board believed it was appropriate to pass something that gave voice to all of its residents.

“We need to be human,” she said. “The most important thing is human life.”

While Plainfield has not passed a resolution, Mayor John Argoudelis voiced empathy for those who appeared before his village board advocating for a cease-fire.

“I’m impressed with your eloquence and I’m impressed with your passion and your desire for human dignity and for safety,” Argoudelis told them. “But I was struck by a repeated refrain, that Washington isn’t listening to us. … But this is where you are heard. Because you’re not being heard in Washington. So I appreciate that very much.”

  Hoffman Estates resident Maryam Othman was among those asking Hoffman Estates village trustees to consider adopting a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. Eric Peterson/

While Alexander-Basta said she understands why other towns are choosing not to pass resolutions, she doesn’t consider Bolingbrook’s actions to be meaningless. It was followed by resolutions by the DuPage Democrats and DuPage Township, and she believes may have played a tiny part in the momentum that’s recently prompted calls for a cease-fire from the likes of Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

“I think it did move the needle,” she added.

At the same time, she’s mindful about setting a precedent that the village will take a stand on numerous other issues beyond its control.

For those calling for the resolutions, like Schaumburg resident Akbar Pasha, the hope is measures passed by local governments will draw the attention of federal officials. The requests are not being done instead of, but in addition to, contacting federal lawmakers.

“I think it’s not one or the other,” he said.

One of those federal lawmakers, Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider of Highland Park, said he’s been hearing directly from people on both sides of the conflict at his Washington, D.C., and Lincolnshire offices.

“I’ve been doing everything I can to get humanitarian aid into Gaza,” he said, adding that it’s imperative for President Joe Biden to negotiate a pause in the fighting.

The advice he has for cease-fire advocates and municipal leaders is a quote he heard from his grandmother: “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion. The more you can listen before you speak, the better.”

Daily Herald staff writer Alicia Fabbre contributed to this report.

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