Colorado Jewish Community Applauds Denver City Council’s Refrain From International Geopolitics
Denver, CO – Feb 12, 2024 – Today, leaders from Colorado’s Jewish Community issued the following statements in response to the Denver City Council’s vote to not proceed with a proclamation on the Israel-Hamas war. The 13-member Council voted down the proclamation during a meeting where vocal supporters forced Council to go into recess and vote virtually.
This is the third time in two months that proponents of the proclamation have caused a Denver City Council meeting to end prematurely or force members to retreat to their offices. The Jewish community thanked the Council for their courage in rejecting this misguided proclamation, urged them to stay focused on the many issues facing the City of Denver, and to refrain from proclamations about the war in Israel and Gaza; a war that erupted in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli citizens on October 7, 2023 and the continuing imprisonment of Israeli hostages by Hamas.
“We as a community are relieved that Denver City Council decided not to take steps to further divide our community by not advancing this proclamation today,” said Dr. Dan Leshem, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “At a time when antisemitic incidents are on the rise both in Colorado and nationally, the city of Denver has already devoted too much time working on a ceasefire proclamation that will not help Jews or Muslims feel any safer here at home, and will not do anything to help Palestinian or Israeli civilians thousands of miles away. For several months, Council time has been hijacked by a small group of dedicated activists that want to add Denver to a list of cities who have made the same mistake, and created more division in their communities. I applaud the Council today for turning away from divisive political posturing and towards continuing the work our city needs.”
“Antisemitic incidents in our community and across the country are at historically high levels. In the four months since October 7, when Hamas led a brutal invasion of Israel that resulted in the barbaric murders of 1,200 people and the taking of 253 hostages, Jews in Denver and across the United States have understandably felt vulnerable. During that time, we have seen nearly as many antisemitic events as we saw during the entire preceding year. Across the country we have seen local ceasefire resolutions and proclamations sow discord and feed environments that embolden antisemitic and other hateful expressions. We all have deep concern related to the current crisis but it is well beyond the purview of the Denver City Council,” said Scott Levin, ADL Mountain States Regional Director. “Council should be focused on important issues that face this city, from housing the homeless to adequately funding healthcare. We all pray for the immediate return of hostages and for peace, but we know that is not going to come from a City Council proclamation. Thank you to the Councilmembers who rejected the proposal and refrained from further stoking the flames of division.”
“Resolutions of this kind lead to the continued and alarming rates of anti-Israel actions, local and national increases in antisemitism, and perpetuate a lack of knowledge and understanding of the complexity of factors at play in this conflict,” said Rabbi Emily Hyatt, President of the Rocky Mountain Rabbis and Cantors. “As we have seen, they provide additional support to those that claim there should be no Jewish state – or Jews – from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Ultimately, we applaud the Council for voting against passing this divisive proclamation, and our doors are open to anyone who would like to have a constructive dialogue with the Jewish Community about Israel, Palestine, and what we as a community pray for going forward.”
Council members voting against the proclamation included Paul Kashmann, Kevin Flynn, Diana Romero Campbell, Amanda Sandoval, Amanda Sawyer, Darrell Watson, Flor Alvidrez, and Stacy Gilmore. Members voting in favor included Sarah Parady, Jamie Torres, Shontel Lewis, and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez. Councilman Chris Hinds was absent.
Dan Leshem and Scott Levin are available for comment and interviews.
Dan Leshem, PhD
Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League – Mountain States