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CHICAGO: The board of trustees of Bolingbrook, a village in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago, has adopted a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

The mayor of Bolingbrook, which with a population of 73,755 is the 16th-largest population center in Illinois, is Egyptian American Mary Alexander-Basta, who has held the office since August 2020.

She said the resolution, unanimously approved on Tuesday, is a statement rejecting all of the violence, including the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel and the continuing Israeli military assault on Gaza that followed.

“As the Mayor of Bolingbrook, I wholeheartedly embrace the richness of our community’s diversity,” Alexander-Basta added. “It is our greatest strength, fostering innovation, understanding and unity among all residents.

“Embracing diversity ensures that every voice is heard and every individual is valued, creating a vibrant and inclusive community where everyone can thrive.

“It is imperative that humanitarian aid reaches those in need and that efforts to rebuild infrastructure are prioritized to restore stability and hope for the future. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the conflict and we remain committed to supporting peace and justice in the region.”

The resolution “condemns all violence” and states: “The mayor and board of trustees of the village of Bolingbrook stand for peace and call for the return of hostages and prisoners.”

It advocates “a durable, sustained humanitarian cessation of hostilities, the rebuilding of civilians’ lives, and refostering economic development,” as well as “a lasting, permanent and viable peace coupled with dignity and respect for Israelis, Palestinians and every ethnic and religious group involved in the current conflict.”

The resolution, which is advisory only and not legally binding, was unanimously approved by the village board in a vote on Tuesday night. The respectful discussion during the Bolingbrook meeting contrasted sharply with the antagonism that ceasefire proponents have faced elsewhere in Chicago and other cities in Illinois, an overwhelmingly Democrat state.

The Chicago City Council, for example, approved a resolution on Jan. 31 following a contentious meeting. After a month of political wrangling and opposition from pro-Israel elected officials, it narrowly passed by a vote of 24 to 23.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who expressed sympathy for all victims of the violence, was forced to cast the deciding vote for the resolution, which also called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

A similar resolution presented on Feb. 5 to the village board of Orland Park, also in southwestern suburbs of Chicago, prompted a verbal assault by Mayor Keith Pekau against the large Arab and Muslim population of the village.

After a group of about 75 homeowners presented the mayor with a petition signed by 800 residents, he launched into a lengthy diatribe during which he questioned their “patriotism.” Having anticipated the delivery of the petition, he read a lengthy speech that was dismissive of Palestinian human rights. He also requested that 10 police officers be present at the meeting, more than normal, resulting in what some attendees described as a “hostile” and “intimidating” environment.

After condemning the actions of the residents and taxpayers, Pekau called a recess, ordered those observing it to leave and, after the room was cleared, he continued to deliver his speech, in which he told Arab and Muslim residents they could “go to another country” if they did not like the way the conduct of village officials.

“Mayor Pekau’s actions were very disrespectful,” said Shad Mohammed, who attended the meeting.

The mayor’s actions prompted some members of the community to hold meetings about challenging his campaign for reelection in April 2025, and to launch a voter-registration drive.

Image credit: Wikipedia

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