Following last week’s Palestinian flag raising in downtown Fresno, tensions were raised once again over the Israel-Hamas conflict at Fresno City Hall on Thursday.
Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld fended off attacks from the public over his support of Israel.
The backstory: The City of Fresno held an Israeli flag raising days after the attacks of Oct. 7, which brought protesters to downtown Fresno hurling insults at Mayor Jerry Dyer.
- After weeks of calling for similar support for Fresno’s Palestinian community, Councilman Miguel Arias sponsored the Palestinian flag raising on Dec. 8.
- Palestinian supporters have attended city council meetings since October and were calling for a flag raising as well as a resolution by the council calling for a cease-fire.
A week after a fellow Councilman hosted a Palestinian flag raising, Fresno City Councilman @GarryBredefeld tees off on pro-Hamas protesters, with photos of hostages held by Hamas covering the dais below him.
WATCH ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/gXQFSOy1oR— Alex Tavlian (@tavlian) December 14, 2023
The big picture: Thursday, Bredefeld and Councilman Mike Karbassi had pictures of Israeli hostages captured by Hamas posted on the dais below their seats.
- Several people addressed the council once again, many of whom went after Bredefeld for his support of Israel.
- Along with the criticism of Bredefeld, many people praised and thanked Arias for sponsoring the flag raising last week.
- Arias revealed that he received violent threats against his family for supporting the flag raising, including threats to rape his children.
What they’re saying: “Like so many people, I painfully grieve over the senseless loss of life of so many people, young people just enjoying a music festival, of those who are just with their families at home,” Bredefeld said. “I also grieve over the loss of so many innocent Palestinians, victims of a war started by Hamas.”
- Bredefeld added, “All of those killed, raped, tortured and taken hostage shared one thing in common: They were Jewish.”
- Bredefeld then spoke about the Palestinian supporters who have addressed the council over the last few meetings.
- “These folks who have come here for three weeks in a row now, declaring and chanting their hate for Israel and desire to see Jewish people in Israel eliminated have that right and freedom to spew their hatred,” Bredefeld said. “I will defend that right, but I also have the right to condemn their antisemitism and hate-filled speech, and I strongly do loudly and vehemently.”
- Karbassi thanked everyone for addressing the council, saying that he will defend that right no matter what their views are.
- “I have a newfound respect for the concept ‘never forget, because we’ve heard a lot, but no one’s talked about what’s happened,” Karbassi said. “We want to just whitewash Oct. 7. Now I want to make one thing very clear: It doesn’t matter if it’s a Jewish life, if it’s a Muslim life, if it’s a Palestinian life, or an Israeli life, innocent lives are precious and they’re equal. I’ve said this before. We’ve said it. Some people don’t want to listen. That is a universal statement I think that represents this council.”
- Karbassi finished by reading off a list of names of Americans who are being held hostage by Hamas.