Hartford Leads Mobilization to Defeat One-Sided City Council Resolution

Since the October 7 massacres, pro-Palestinian and allied groups are actively working to urge city councils around the country to pass resolutions calling for an unconditional ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. In many cases, the resolutions are one-sided and contain highly inflammatory language that demonizes Israel. While these resolutions generally have no direct legislative impact, they provide groups hostile to Israel the opportunity to deliver their messages to the public, influence the thinking of local elected officials, and create a momentum that could impact other decision-makers.   

Resolutions have been introduced or recommended in at least 100 jurisdictions from coast to coast, and the actual number is probably higher. Often, city council chambers are flooded with speakers and activists in favor of the resolutions, with meetings sometimes descending into chaos as pro-Palestinian advocates disrupt hearing proceedings and shout down opponents of the resolution.   

Federations across the U.S. and Canada have mobilized their communities to lead the efforts to push back against these one-sided resolutions that polarize the community. Our team at Jewish Federations of North America has provided guidance to the field in the form of resources, training, talking points, communications support and best practices and by connecting Federations with one another.   

Recently, the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford celebrated a major victory after weeks of lobbying and advocacy to oppose a resolution calling for an unconditional ceasefire that failed to name Hamas as the perpetrator of the October 7 atrocities, implied that Israel was guilty of committing genocide and apartheid and called for a “complete Israeli withdrawal from Palestine.”  

Because it is the State Capital, Hartford was clearly viewed by anti-Israel advocates as their most important statewide target. Their success in Hartford would likely influence other towns in Connecticut.  As soon as the resolution was introduced, the Federation launched a multi-pronged approach that involved cross-departmental collaboration of community relations, FRD and marketing and communications teams.  Board Chair Jill Dulitsky and other senior lay leadership from the Federation and Jewish Community Foundation also played a critical role. 

Community influencers and other lay leaders were activated to personally reach out to members of the council and communicate concerns with the resolution. Meetings were held with council members. An action alert was widely circulated urging community members to attend the city council hearing.  Speakers in opposition to the resolution were strategically identified. Talking points were crafted and widely shared.   

Under the leadership of Federation CEO David Waren together with JCRC Director Danielle Moghadam, over 200 pro-Israel community members attended the city council meeting, many of whom brandished signs in solidarity with the hostages and held Israeli flags. 

Federation CEO David Waren spoke at the meeting and expressed his sympathy for the tragic losses in Israel and Gaza and highlighted the dangers of allowing Hamas to remain in power, as well as IDF compliance with international law. He urged, “At a time when our nation is polarized, with bigotry and extremism on the rise, now is the time for all of us, including our elected leaders, to help bring us together. These kinds of resolutions, on such a complicated, conflicted topic, are only pulling our community farther apart. And this resolution will only tarnish Hartford’s reputation, here and across the country.”  

After listening to hours of testimony over two sessions, the Hartford City Council overwhelmingly rejected the proposed resolution.  The Federation’s message was amplified on every local television station. Moreover, as a result of the Federation’s personal advocacy, long term relations with key elected officials were strengthened.  This victory is proof that investing in strategic relationships together with community mobilization and advocacy are all key components necessary to combat antisemitism and anti-Zionism and safeguard our communities.