Williams welcomes truce in Gaza

New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Photo courtesy Office of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has welcomed the truce in Gaza, allowing for the release of some of the hostages seized on Oct. 7 by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and the pause in hostilities that has allowed a surge in humanitarian aid to reach Palestinian civilians.

“At a time in our city when many seem in a constant state of mourning, pain, outrage and concern, grasping for hope, we can be thankful for a moment that some hostages have been released to return home to their families, and that the violence in Gaza that has taken many thousands of lives, destroyed homes and families has ceased temporarily,” Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, told Caribbean Life.

“We can be grateful for this progress, but we cannot be satisfied with it,” he added. “Humanity demands the return of all remaining hostages, and a lasting cessation of the violence and suffering we have seen.

“Humanity demands the destruction and death in Gaza over the past seven weeks does not just resume after a brief moment of respite,” Williams continued. “And we all have a moral obligation to use whatever voice and influence we have to push for inhumanity to end.

“Violence begets violence, and neither justice nor freedom nor safety nor strength nor peace is built on a body count,” he said.

Earlier this month, Caribbean-American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said that she remained “devastated” by the “wanton loss of life,” the death and injury of innocent people, and those being tortured and held captive in the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East.

“It is truly painful,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th District in Brooklyn that she considers to be home to one of the most diverse populations in the nation.

“Christians, Muslims and Jewish people from across the nation and around the world have made it their home,” Clarke told Caribbean Life. “We pride ourselves in our diversity and supporting one another during times of hardship.”

Therefore, she said the terrorist attack from Hamas on innocent Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 “left us all heartbroken.”

“I wholeheartedly condemn the Hamas attacks on Israel and the escalating violence that has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent women, children and men in Gaza,” the congresswoman said. “I join my colleagues in calling for the immediate release of all hostages and the safe return of all American citizens in the region, including the hundreds of Palestinian-Americans stranded in Gaza.

“Moreover, it is imperative that we ensure the viability of a corridor to allow for the safe evacuation of civilians and the import of humanitarian aid immediately,” she added.

Clarke said she not only knows the heartache and grief caused by terrorist attacks, but is also “very conscious of the devastation wrought by mistakes made during our war on terror.

“The weaponization of hatred and bigotry must not be permitted to prevail,” she said. “It is up to all of us – elected officials, parents, teachers, members of the clergy and people of good will – we must stand together against the rise of hate and violence.

“We all have a role to play in making this world a greater, more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren to inherit,” Clarke added.

Earlier, New York City Democratic Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, the Haitian-born representative for the 46th Council District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life that she was saddened by what she described as the “devastating loss of life” on both sides of the Israeli-Hamas war.

“My heart goes out to all families affected, whether they are in Israel or in Gaza,” she said. “In this difficult time, it’s more important than ever to remember our shared humanity and the bonds that unite us, rather than the issues that divide us.

“I unequivocally condemn all forms of terrorism and violence, from wherever they emanate,” Narcisse added. “No cause or grievance justifies the targeting of innocent civilians. The reports of massacres, hostage-taking, and large-scale rocket attacks are particularly distressing.”

The Council Member called on leaders on both sides to “engage in meaningful dialogue, cease hostilities, and work towards a peaceful and sustainable solution.

“It is the ordinary people, the civilians, who bear the brunt of these conflicts, and it’s our collective responsibility to champion peace and understanding,” she said. “Let us all pray for peace, work towards dialogue, and remember that every life is invaluable, irrespective of nationality or religion.”

In response to the terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas militants that killed over 300 people, Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, last month vehemently condemned the attack.

“The Brooklyn Democratic Party strongly condemns the heinous and unconscionable assault on Israel by Hamas during Simchat Torah, one of the most sacred Jewish holidays,” said Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “Our hearts break for the hundreds who perished, as we pray for the recovery of the thousands of wounded victims, and the safe return of the abducted Israelis.

“We stand in solemn solidarity with Israel and its people who have lost loved ones,” she added, stating that Brooklyn is home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel, “and we extend our deepest compassion for the communities and our neighbors affected by this tragedy.”

Bichotte Hermelyn said the Democratic Party echoes the “rock solid and unwavering” support of Israel stated by President Joe Biden, “as we denounce the inhumane terrorism against the Jewish people on their homeland.

“We are united in prayer for peace and recovery,” she said.