Friends, for several months, a well-organized and financed national initiative has taken root in cities across the U.S.  This movement has targeted city councils in over 70 cities to put forth and pass a resolution for an immediate unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza war.  Minneapolis passed such a resolution last month, over the veto of the mayor, and St. Paul’s City Council has it on the agenda this week.  Most of the resolutions make no demands of Hamas about laying down their arms, or freeing the hostages.  Rather, they demand that Israel implement an immediate and unilateral ceasefire.
As of this e-mail, there is NO such resolution on the La Crosse City Council meeting agenda to discuss this issue.  However, there are people in this community who are trying to have this happen here.  A recent letter to the editor appeared in the La Crosse Tribune on this issue.


Even before October 7, American Jews and our allies were battling an unprecedented increase in antisemitic events across the U.S. Since the Hamas Oct. 7 atrocities, however, those incidents have only increased, including organized efforts to undermine the Jewish state and to harass and marginalize Jews in general.

One form of attack involves well-funded and well-organized national initiatives that target city councils and city council members across the country. These efforts urge local elected officials to pass unilateral ceasefire resolutions with language that neglects to demand the immediate and safe return of more than 130 hostages still in captivity, fails to properly identify Hamas as a terrorist organization and demand its dissolution, and denies Israel’s sovereignty and right to defend itself and its people from repeated massacres.

These efforts are aggressive, often including threats and intimidation. In many cities, local officials are being prevented from doing the work they were elected to do, and local business owners have often been prohibited from holding events in Jewish spaces or hosting Jewish musical or dramatic performances in cities all over our country.

I have not mentioned the hundreds of incidents on American college campuses, targeting Jews or Israel or both.

This is bullying, plain and simple.

Watching these efforts play out across the country, we know that even when such a local city resolution passes, not only does it have zero positive effect on the conflict in the Middle East – as foreign affairs is not the purview of city councils – but it increases divisiveness in the community and directly fuels anti-Jewish hate.

The American Jewish community, through a taskforce of  professionals and volunteers, has been working to educate mayors and city councils on these issues and to keep these resolutions off the agenda.

It is extremely important for local Jewish citizens to have our voices heard.

We hope that the La Crosse City Council will follow the lead of many such councils across the country, and resolve to not engage in foreign affairs such as a ceasefire resolution, and return their focus to the important issues and needs of the city which they can impact.

As this situation continues to unfold, we have received several inquiries from members of the community about how they can help. We strongly encourage people to make their voices heard and exercise their right to participate in our local government, and we want people to do so as safely as possible.

Again, we are grateful that our own community has not been threatened in any way.  Your CSOA security team is working with law enforcement, architects and security firms to keep us safe.

Please feel free to share any of your concerns and ideas with me.

I wish you a peaceful week.

Rabbi Brian Serle