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A Fresno County First: Kerman Council Passes Amended Gaza Cease-Fire Resolution
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 4 weeks ago on
March 28, 2024

Kerman cease-fire supporter Dr. Husam Kaileh extends his hand to Rabbi Rick Winer (not seen) as Jacques Benninga looks on. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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After 90 minutes of passionate but civil debate, the Kerman City Council approved a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. The version passed was heavily amended from what was initially presented.

The community of 16,000 — about a 20-minute drive west of Fresno — became the first Fresno County city to adopt such a resolution and the second in the Central Valley.

For weeks, the Palestinian community urged Kerman to take action. Activist Yasir Amireh wrote the original proclamation for consideration. The Madera City Council passed a similar version on Feb. 14

The city council made several edits.

A demand for the release of hostages was moved into the title of the proclamation, a reference to the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel was added, a reference to the  32,000 “innocent” lives lost was removed, as was a reference to “root cause;” and mention of two million displaced was changed to just “millions.”

The amended cease-fire proclamation.

The final vote was three in favor to issue the proclamation — Mayor Maria Pacheco, and councilmembers Bill Nijjer and Ismael Herrera — with two abstentions — Gary Yep and Jennifer Coleman.

Amireh did not want to talk about Kerman’s actions to this reporter after the meeting.

“I don’t talk to Zionists,” Amireh said.

Yasir Amireh (center), the proclamation’s author, looks on during discussion. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Councilmembers Balk at Original Proclamation

Yep said he did not think the city should issue the proclamation. He would rather issue a personal letter — especially if asked by one of the main supporters, Dr. Husam Kaileh, Yep’s own doctor.

“I have a tough time because to me, it seems one-sided,” Yep said after public comment. He had problems with the numbers referenced in the original proclamation because it could not be verified.

Yep presented an alternate proclamation, that was purposely vague. The city council opted to amend what was in front of them instead.

Herrera said this wasn’t an issue about picking sides.

“Just as I condemn the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7th … I denounce the same way what the Netanyahu administration is doing, in my opinion, to a very vulnerable population in Gaza,” Herrera said. He called Israel’s actions “war crimes.”

He wanted to add a clear condemnation of the terror attacks, which was adopted.

The council received more than 100 emails in support. Nijjer said many of them were form letters.

“We want to hear from real people,” Nijjer said.

Kaileh, one of the resolution’s top advocates, said family still living in Palestine provided motivation.

“I am OK with everything that goes to peace,” he said of the amended statement.

Jacques Benninga, chair for the local Jewish Community Relations Committee, spoke against the resolution. He agreed with the amendments.

“I think everybody wants a cease-fire. This is what these negotiations have been going towards for weeks now. They haven’t happened and they haven’t happened because Hamas is refusing. It’s a bunch of well-intentioned people trying to make sense of a very complicated issue,” he said.

Public Arguments For and Against

Rabbi Rick Winer supported the concept of a cease-fire resolution, but not in the original form Kerman considered.

“I think that we could come to something that everyone would agree on. But right now, this would do deep damage to the Jewish community,” Winer said during public comment.

Rabbi Rick Winer (hand on chin) spoke against the cease-fire resolution as written. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Another religious leader, Pastor Bryan Arabian of The Father’s House church in Kerman, opposed. He said passing a proclamation would open the door for any special interest to come to City Hall asking for the same.

Lori Garcia urged the council to pass the cease-fire resolution.

“Why are the lives of 2 million Palestinians devalued? This is our defining moment as Americans,” Garcia said.

A supporter named Hayat said the Oct. 7 “was not an unproved attack.” Even so, that did not justify Israel’s response she said.

“I have come to feel guilty when I hold my little girl tight in my arms, knowing those poor mothers have had to leave their babies lifeless bodies laying there or under rubble,” she said.

Another supporter, Areej, believed a ceasefire is the humanitarian and peaceful action to take.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinian people. We cannot allow their cries for help to go unanswered. We cannot allow ourselves to create yet another generation of enemies and hate,” she said.

There were some supporters who claimed that the alleged rapes by Hamas did not happen, and called Israel’s actions “genocide.”

Cease-fire supporter Hayat addresses the Kerman City Council. (GV Wire/David Taub)

A Respectful Crowd

About 50 people — with half standing along the walls of the council chambers — attended the meeting. A majority supported Palestine, wearing symbols of the flags, t-shirts, and other paraphernalia.

Pacheco opened the discussion asking for respect, which the audience abided — avoiding ugly scenarios like in Berkeley and Sacramento.

She said she met with Kerman residents of Palestinian descent before the meeting.

“Passing this proclamation in support of a cease-fire is not just a symbolic gesture. It’s a tangible expression of our commitment to justice, peace, and human dignity,” Pacheco said in a five-minute open.

Throughout the debate, and several public speakers, the audience listened — or at least did not interrupt. At points, the audience applauded after a speaker.

Mayor Maria Pacheco (standing) shakes hands with attendees before the Kerman City Council meeting. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
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

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