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Bredefeld Defends Israel, Condemns Hamas and Antisemitism

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With Palestinian supporters in Fresno City Council chambers, Garry Bredefeld delivered a response to last week’s Palestinian flag-raising from the dais — defending Israel and condemning Hamas and antisemitism — on Thursday morning.

“All of those killed, raped, tortured, and taken hostage shared one thing in common. They were Jewish. We’ve seen this horror so many times before, but not since the Holocaust have we seen such massive savagery and genocide of the Jewish people,” said Bredefeld, who was raised Jewish and is now a Christian.

Flyers of Israeli kidnap victims hung below Bredefeld’s nameplate on the dais.

He said Hamas’ “heinous acts” can never be justified while also stating that he mourns the loss of all lives in the Hamas-Israeli war.

“Like so many people, I deeply grieve over the senseless loss of life, of so many people. Young people just enjoying a music festival. Of those who were just with their families at home. I also grieve over the loss of so many innocent Palestinians, victims of a war started by Hamas,” Bredefeld said.

During Bredefeld’s seven-minute speech, two members of a pro-Palestinian group, Layla Darwish and Yasir Amireh, had to be warned by City Council President Tyler Maxwell not to be disruptive.

Palestinian supporters Layla Darwish and Yasir Amireh (center) spoke at Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Bredefeld: No Ceasefire

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks on Israel, pro-Palestinian supporters have spoken at council meetings. Often they have condemned Israel and demanded that the council call for a cease-fire.

Bredefeld opined on Thursday that a ceasefire should only happen when Hamas unconditionally surrenders, all Hamas weapons are destroyed, and the hostages are returned.

“They’re evil psychopaths whose mission is to kill Jews and destroy Israel. Now they (Palestinian supporters) call for a cease-fire that will only embolden these terrorists,” Bredefeld said.

Last Friday, the Palestinian flag was raised at Eaton Plaza in downtown Fresno. At that event and others in Fresno, including Thursday’s council meeting, the pro-Palestinian crowd chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The meaning of those words is the subject of debate between Palestinians and Jews.

Many Palestinian activists say it’s a call for peace and equality after 75 years of Israeli statehood and decades-long Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians.

However, Jews interpret those words as a clear demand for Israel’s destruction.

Several pro-Palestinian speakers on Thursday criticized support of Zionism and Bredefeld’s opposition to the flag raising. Zionists support the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish homeland nation.

“These folks who have come here for three weeks in a row now declaring and chanting … to see Jewish people in Israel eliminated have the right and freedom to spew their hatred. I will defend that right. But I also have the right to condemn their antisemitism, hate-filled speech. And I strongly do loudly and vehemently,” Bredefeld said.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi added: “I have a newfound respect for the concept ‘never forget.’ ”

Arias: I Received Violent Threats

Councilmember Miguel Arias, who supported the Palestinian flag-raising, said he received threats of violence in reaction.

We should hang you from the flagpole and we should show up and rape your kids and everything else that they think should happen to my family as a result,” Arias said, describing communications sent to him.

He also said he received words of support, citing a local doctor who said the flag-raising “made him feel at home in Fresno.”

Arias agreed with Bredefeld that Hamas “is a terrorist organization that needs to be dealt with as we’ve dealt with other terrorist organizations in our country and abroad.”

He also said that if there were photos “of the thousands of innocent children that have died in Gaza, you wouldn’t be able to see any piece of the wall or the ceiling” in the council chambers.

Arias said that only in America could there be such a discussion without violence.

The Palestinian flags at Eaton Plaza in downtown Fresno will be taken down Thursday night, a city spokesperson tells GV Wire. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email