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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Protesters clash over ceasefire resolution: Town Meeting declines to vote

Protesters flooded the sidewalk in front of the Cypress Field to voice their opinions on the controversial Warrant Article 19, a resolution which would call for a ceasefire in the Middle East and a return of all Israeli hostages.

On Thursday, May 30, at around 10:25 p.m. in the Roberts/Dubbs Auditorium, Brookline Town Meeting held one of its most controversial votes in recent history. The outcome: They voted not to vote.

The article before Town Meeting, Warrant Article 19, was a resolution, a proposed statement of values that would not put any new regulations in place. The resolution called on President Biden and Massachusetts’ congressional delegation to pursue an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the immediate and safe return of the Israeli hostages that Hamas took on Oct. 7.

Starting around 6 p.m., before the vote, two groups gathered to protest outside the 115 Greenough building with signs, flags and megaphones. One, organized by the Brookline Peace Coalition, was in favor of the resolution, while the other protest was against it.


The vote came roughly six months after the Select Board, the executive branch of Town Government, voted not to schedule a town meeting to consider a proposed resolution calling for the federal government’s continued support for the “people of Israel.” Members of the Board cited the potential for harm and polarization in discussing and voting on such a resolution as their rationale for not scheduling a town meeting, which they were required to do under State law.

This spring, despite raising many of the same concerns they had raised in December, the Select Board did not have the power to stop the proposed resolution from coming before Town Meeting. The Select Board does not control Town Meeting’s agenda, only their meeting start dates. The board had already scheduled a town meeting. The ceasefire resolution was submitted prior to the submission deadline, in accordance with all submission procedures.

In addition to the main motion, there were three proposed amendments to the resolution. Two of which, according to their respective petitioners’, were intended to make the resolution less divisive. The other would substitute the call for an immediate ceasefire with a call for the unconditional surrender of Hamas.

Protests and Community Response

Protesters outside 115 Greenough near Cypress Field, separated by a barricade, came to support and oppose the resolution. The crowd comprised community members, including many of the high school’s students and parents. Chants, songs, signs, flyers and flags communicated the views of both sides, with messages like “Let Gaza Live,” “Ceasefire Now,” “Free the Hostages” and “No on 19.” Pro-resolution protesters organized a series of speeches, which were often interrupted by sirens from some anti-resolution protesters.

Among those against the resolution, a main argument was that the resolution would further divide the town. Aylit Schultz, a Brookline resident who came to protest the resolution, said it is not the town government’s role to involve itself in foreign conflicts.

“It’s illusory that the Town Meeting is the way we’re supposed to affect change. Town Meeting members were elected to deal with town issues. They were not elected on a platform of foreign policy in any way,” Schultz said. “They’re not experts in it, they’re not doing it justice and the forum itself doesn’t provide the level of complex debate and expertise that’s required.”

Brookline Peace Coalition founder and Brookline resident Emma Nash ‘14 said the conflict is not purely foreign; it also affects Brookline citizens.

“I don’t think it’s an international issue; I think it’s a local issue. When our tax dollars as a community are being spent on this, we as a collective should get a say,” Nash said. “I find the argument that the town should just not be weighing in on foreign affairs really problematic, because historically, being able to pass resolutions as a town is a way in which we use our collective voice.”

Pro-resolution protester Akiva Leibowitz, an Israeli-American Brookline resident and member of the Brookline Peace Coalition, said no matter how divided the resolution would make the town, it is still necessary.

“Unity is not the ultimate goal,” Leibowitz said. “We need to take a moral stance and stand up for what we think is right. Sometimes it also involves division, involves argument, but we can’t be afraid of confronting these very hard realities. We can’t turn our heads away.”

Schultz said the resolution, above all, reduces and misrepresents the conflict.

“I feel very strongly that Warrant Article 19 is confusing at best and deceptive at worst. It’s taking a very complex geopolitical issue and flattening it down into 250 words, which is impossible to do justice,” Schultz said.

The Vote

Town Meeting voted on a rarely-used procedural motion to lay the article on the table. “Tabeling” a warrant article means that Town Meeting skips all discussion and does not vote on the article itself. A motion to lay an article on the table requires more than just a simple majority to pass, according to Town Moderator Neil Wishinsky.

“Any motion to terminate debate requires a two-thirds vote, and that’s what’s going on here,” Wishinsky said at Town Meeting. “So, the motion is put before you. Do you want to lay the article on the table?”

One hundred eighty-one Town Meeting members did. 42 did not. 10 abstained. The motion passed with roughly 78 percent of the vote. As a result, Town Meeting did not discuss or vote on the ceasefire resolution.

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