City Council rescinds Cantrell resolution seen as anti-Israel and pro Palestinian

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - During a sometimes rowdy meeting, the city council rescinded a controversial resolution labeled anti-Semitic by some which was authored by Mayor-Elect and current councilwoman Latoya Cantrell.

But supporters said council members caved to unfair pressure from the Jewish community.

"Let us speak. Let us speak," chanting some citizens who could not get into the council meeting which was held in a smaller venue on the west bank of New Orleans due to renovations of the city council chambers inside city hall.

It was a meeting in a different location that drew a vocal display of opposing discourse on the issue.

"We're not going to solve the Middle East crisis in the city of New Orleans today," said Council President and at-large Councilman Jason Williams as audience members shouted at him about limiting the amount of time allotted to members of the public to comment on the matter.

At the root of the tension was the resolution sponsored by Cantrell and backed by the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee which sparked international headlines and insulted many in the Jewish community locally and beyond in the process.

Cantrell insisted her measure aimed to express a commitment to equality and human rights.

But it ended up being linked to BDS, which stands for the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement started by Palestinians to pressure Israel over the fight for Palestinian independence.

"The unintended consequences I am very apologetic for. Its passage has shrouded the city in an undesired and damaging falsehood," said Cantrell during Thursday's packed council meeting in Algiers.

Council President Jason Williams said the way the council introduced and handled the resolution was flawed because it did not allow for all sides to voice their opinions.

During this week's meeting, opponents and supporters were allotted 15 minutes to address council members.

"In the midst of the Crescent City's tri-centennial celebrations, God forbid that our city ever be suspected of support of this anti-Israel group," said Rabbi Ed Cohn, of Temple Sinai.

"The BDS movement is definitely an affront. It's a movement that has anti-Zionist aspects to it," said former Councilman Arnie Fielkow, who recently moved back to the city to become CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.

Still, some younger Jews rallied in support of the resolution. Some held signs that read, "I am a self-loving anti-Zionist Jew."

Fielkow said he respect diverse views but the resolution was a mistake.

"The Jewish community like every other community in America has diversity," said Fielkow.

Supporters emphatically defended the resolution before the council.

"There seems to be a scorched earth policy when it comes to Palestinians having human rights, right?" said Tabitha Mustafa, of the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee.

"We're humans, we're from New Orleans. We want to be equal and so it's not about black and white and Arabic and whatever," added Janna Atalleh, another local Palestinian American.

Eventually, the council voted unanimously to withdraw the ordinance.

"It is damaging to our city to be considered one of the only pro-BDS cities in America and I think the council did exactly the right thing,' said Fielkow.

Mayor Landrieu was not supportive of the resolution. After it was approved he issued a statement calling it ill-advised, gratuitous and that it does reflect the policy of the City of New Orleans.

"The very same mayor who brought monuments and now so has the council that helped to bring down Confederate monuments," said Mustafa.

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