St. Pete City Council Remarks – CAIR Florida
Wednesday, 12 June 2024

St. Pete City Council Remarks

February 15, 2024

 

My name is Mari Marks, I am the Policy Manger for CAIR-Florida.  We are an established civil rights organization protecting people from around the world.   I come before you today to ask that you please vote yes on the resolution for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and end to violence in the catastrophic invasion of Rafah.   Over the last four months we have heard so many numbers and statistics of killed, injured, orphaned, maimed, kidnapped human beings.  I want to ask you to set aside these numbers that continue to climb every second of the day.

What I want you to focus on is that every single one of those numbers represents a human being with a face, a story, a family, and dreams lost. They are grandmother’s left with the care of their grandkids, waiting in lines for 5 hours to take potty-training toddlers to the bathroom and find a single slice of bread to share.  They are fathers who leave their shelter to search for water to quench sick bodies and dry mouths, to return to a bombed out shelter, with his family gone. Doctors and nurses who haven’t seen their families in months, or have lost their families as they work 24 hours a day to save what lives they can.  Palestinians are 13 year old little girls, who love school, lip gloss, music and their friends, little girls who have no access to the dignity of sanitary support and hygiene.  A nine year old boy who is now responsible for his 6 month old sister for the rest of his life. A 14 year old who picked up the pieces of his mother to bury in a grocery bag. They are not numbers they are infants who have to suck on dates because their mommy’s breast milk has dried up from starvation, and the baby formula is being blocked by Israeli settlers from entering Gaza.  They are 27,000 children who will never again have a parent tuck them in at night, remind them to do their homework, or make a birthday cake.

I have hundreds of stories of trauma, bombings, heartbreak, and the journalists who have risked everything to document and provide evidence of it all.  This genocide isn’t up for debate, hundreds of international genocide scholars, legal analysts and governments have declared it as such.  It isn’t up for debate that these atrocities started long before October 7th, with 75 years of documented evidence.

If this was occurring anywhere else in the world, there would be absolutely no question of a city like yours granting your words of affirmation and support.  In fact, the world rushed to the side of Ukraine as soon as they were invaded, with no debate.  Why?  Because human beings lives are at stake.  It is the same reason that our hearts go out to the people of Sudan, Congo, Burma, Uighurs, and Rohingya.

A resolution from you does not say you don’t care about the Israeli hostages.  Your support of a ceasefire does not in any way suggest you are against human rights of Israeli citizens.   This expresses your shared humanity with another person who is suffering beyond comprehension.  This resolution means you do not want your tax dollars to be a part of the suffering of innocent human beings.  It sends a message to desperately hurting people that St. Petersburg cares about people, regardless of their nationality, religion, homeland, or politics.  Loving human beings is not a partisan issue.

This resolution tells your Arab American, Muslim, and Palestinian neighbors here in Florida that you believe in life, dignity, and justice for all. That you will fight for these constituents and neighbors as strongly as you will fight for everyone.  The highest court on the planet and a federal court in Oakland have both found Israel plausibly guilty of genocide, and yet they have not stopped. The bare minimum is to say you want a ceasefire.  What will be your legacy 30 years from now? I will stand before my Savior and tell him I did everything I could.

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