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Cambridge public officials and candidates for city office weighed in on the ongoing war in Israel and Gaza following demonstrations at City Hall and doxxing attacks against Harvard students.
Seven of the nine councilors — including all six councilors running for reelection — and four challengers released statements in the days and weeks since the war began.
All of the statements explicitly condemned the attacks by Hamas, though councilors expressed varying degrees of concern over Israel’s response to the invasion.
Councilors E. Denise Simmons, Patricia M. “Patty” Nolan ’80 and Paul F. Toner issued a joint statement in the Cambridge Day on Oct. 13, fiercely condemning the attack by Hamas.
The councilors also condemned a rally for Palestine that took place at City Hall the day after the invasion, writing that they “strongly object to the timing, tone and sentiment of this rally.”
“No matter how one feels about Israel and Palestine, an attack on a dance party for young people, on families and on whole towns, and taking civilian hostages and parading bodies as trophies should be condemned for what it is: terrorism,” the statement reads.
“We must recognize that the blood of thousands of innocent people, in Israel and in Gaza, is being spilled due to the unconscionable actions of Hamas,” they added.
They denounced the doxxing of Harvard students and affirmed their support for homelands for both Palestinians and the Jewish people. Offering prayers and condolences, they called for Cambridge to “move forward with empathy, understanding, and grace.”
After the initial letter was published, two other councilors sent in their own statements to the Day.
Councilor Marc C. McGovern denounced the attacks by Hamas — a U.S.-designated terrorist organization — and wrote that his “heart goes out to the people of Gaza who are losing their lives in this conflict,” expressing hope for a two-state solution and lasting peace.
“It is my firm belief that Israel has a fundamental right to exist. At the same time, I firmly stand by the Palestinians’ right to live in freedom,” he wrote.
Councilor Burhan Azeem denounced violence against civilians as “fundamentally wrong.”
“The dreadful attacks on Israel by Hamas — 1,300 people killed at a music festival and in nearby towns, and many more missing or taken hostage — have left me searching for words,” Azeem wrote. “Many in our Jewish and Israeli communities have shared horrifying stories, and my heart aches thinking of all the friends and families awaiting updates anxiously on their loved ones.”
Azeem also expressed reservations over some aspects of Israel’s response to the attacks, including restrictions on the flow of water and electricity into Gaza and use of white phosphorus. He shared concerns about the rising civilian death toll in Gaza.
Azeem called on Cambridge to stand against the growing tide of Islamophobia and antisemitism, citing the vandalism of Boston’s Palestinian Cultural Center with the word “Nazis” as well as the Cambridge City Hall protest. He denounced protesters who sought to justify “the horrific killing of Israeli civilians as suitable resistance.”
In a separate statement Monday, Councilor Quinton Y. Zondervan condemned “all violence unequivocally” in a joint statement with candidates Ayah Al-Zubi ’23, Vernon K. Walker and Dan J. Totten published in the Day.
“That includes the recent attacks from Hamas and Israel, and the ongoing Israeli occupation and apartheid of Palestinians for the past 75 years,” they wrote.
The group called the current situation in Gaza “an evolving humanitarian atrocity,” adding that collective punishment is a war crime.
The councilors accused Israel of perpetrating “genocide” in Gaza, and wrote that they oppose U.S. funding that supports it. They also called on Harvard to “protect its students from racist attacks and threats.”
“We must all do what we can to alter the course of history toward peace, justice and freedom for Palestine,” wrote the councilors.
Council candidate Robert Winters — who opponents have condemned as Islamophobic over social media posts criticizing Islam — published a blog post commenting on the City Hall rally, denouncing the protesters for condemning Israel.
“I stood with the Israel supporters across the street, and I stand with Israel now,” he wrote, adding that he hopes the war is “resolved quickly with minimal loss of life.”
In a Tuesday post on X, School Committee Vice-Chair Rachel Weinstein shared a joint statement written with Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, who chairs the Committee.
“As we — a Muslim Mayor and Jewish Vice-Chair — lead the Cambridge School Committee, we recommit to our common humanity and ask our community to join us,” they wrote.
Weinstein and Siddiqui condemned incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia in Cambridge, calling for any instances of hate in schools to be “forcefully” addressed.
“Cambridge must be a place where students, families, staff, and community come together to understand our diverse experiences and nurture compassion for one another,” they wrote.
On Wednesday, Siddiqui posted on X that city leadership is aware of the “doxxing truck” and that the vehicle has been repeatedly cited for traffic violations.
“While we respect the principles of freedom of speech, the safety of students remains our concern,” she wrote.
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