The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

City council keeps pro-Palestine ballot measure from ballot

The+Burlington+City+Council+voted+against+a+measure+to+include+a+pro-Palestine+ballot+measure+for+the+upcoming+Town+Meeting+Day%2C+Jan.+22%0A
Annalisa Madonia
The Burlington City Council voted against a measure to include a pro-Palestine ballot measure for the upcoming Town Meeting Day, Jan. 22

Editor’s Note: This story was updated February 7 at 9:20 a.m. to correct the description of Jewish Action.

The Burlington City Council voted 7-5 against a measure to include a pro-Palestine ballot measure on the ballot for Town Meeting Day at a Jan. 22 meeting, according to a Jan. 23 VTDigger article

The resolution was sponsored by city councilors Gene Bergman, P-Ward 2; Ali Dieng, I-Ward 7; and Joe Magee, P-Ward 3. It aimed to denounce the state of Israel and declare Burlington apartheid free.

“WE PLEDGE to join others in working to end all support to Israel’s apartheid regime, settler colonialism, and military occupation,” the resolution stated. 

Over 1,600 Burlington residents signed the petition, according to the VTDigger article. 

According to the VTDigger article, councilors Zoraya Hightower, P-Ward 1 and Melo Grant, P-Central District, joined the sponsors in voting for the resolution.

Councilors Karen Paul, D-Ward 6; Mark Barlow, I-North District; Joan Shannon, D-South District; Sarah Carpenter, D-Ward 4; Hannah King, D-Ward 8; Ben Traverse, D-Ward 5; and Timothy Doherty, D-East District voted against it, according to the VTDigger article.

This is the third measure concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict that the City Council has failed to pass, the first being a demand for a ceasefire in Gaza and the second being a condemnation of the attack on three Palestinian young men in Burlington, both on Dec. 11, 2023. 

Democrats on the City Council opposed the bill largely because they believe it would create more division on a topic that has already created much duress, according to a Jan. 23 Seven Days article.

City Councilor Gene Bergman said he believes that Burlington residents should have the opportunity to vote on the issue on Town Meeting Day, according to the Seven Days article.

“I believe we owe it to all Burlington voters to have the right to cast their votes on this question of great concern,” Bergman said in the article. “Deny that right, and we weaken democracy, and I cannot do that in good conscience.”

UVM Students for Justice in Palestine, a student organization that is not listed as an SGA-recognized club, said in a statement that they feel the city council’s decision to not include the measure on the Town Meeting Day ballot is undemocratic.

“Just as every facet of Israel’s US-backed genocide of Palestinians affects us here, the predictable anti-democratic precedent set by [the] Burlington City Council sets the stage to restrict all electoral efforts in this city on every issue in the coming years of struggle against fascism,” the email stated.

SJP stated that they believe it is important for UVM students to understand that these types of developments have repercussions for the ongoing crisis in Gaza. 

“Everything done here in service of killing Palestinians will affect you if you find yourself fighting for anything,” the email stated. 

In a statement forwarded to the Cynic by Matt Vogel, executive director of UVM Hillel, Vermont Jewish advocacy group Jewish Action stated on Jan. 22 that they opposed the resolution, believing it to be an overreach of the city council’s powers and a misallocation of its efforts.

“Jewish Action is deeply concerned that this measure will continue to exacerbate the growing antisemitism, and Islamophobia, in our community and around the country,” the statement said. “The city council is not at all prepared to make foreign policy, nor is it in their purview.”

 

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About the Contributor
Annalisa Madonia, Co-Photo Editor
(She/her)  Annalisa Madonia is a sophomore majoring in public communication with minors in food systems, applied design and nutrition and food sciences. She joined the Cynic as a staff photographer before taking on the role of photo editor. In her free time, she loves to combine her passion for baking and photography with food photography. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Annalisa.