War on Gaza: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom calls for ceasefire

Newsom is now one of two US governors who have called for a ceasefire in Gaza

MEE staff

Governor of California Gavin Newsom attends a press conference in Beijing, China, on 25 October 2023 (Wand Zhao/AFP)

Governor Gavin Newsom of California called for a ceasefire in Gaza last week in an open letter to his state’s Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities. 

“I condemn the ongoing and horrific loss of innocent civilian life in Gaza. I support President Biden’s call for an immediate ceasefire as part of a deal to secure desperately needed relief for Gazan civilians and the release of hostages,” he wrote.

“I also unequivocally denounce Hamas’s terrorist attack against Israel. It is time to work in earnest toward an enduring peace that will furnish the lasting security, autonomy, and freedom that the Palestinians and the Israeli people both deserve.”

Newsom, a Democrat who has been governor of California since 2019, wrote in his open letter that the state is a better place because of Muslims, Palestinian Americans, and Arab Americans.

Since the 7 October Hamas-led attack on southern Israel and the subsequent war that broke out, more than 90 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced and at least 32,000 have been killed, with them being mostly women and children.

“That’s why it pains me so deeply to see the ways your communities are suffering, bearing the weight of lost family and friends in Gaza while facing a rise in discrimination and hate here at home. As I’ve met with leaders from your communities in recent months, I’ve heard stories of unimaginable loss and widespread fear,” he wrote.

He gave examples of hateful incidents that took place after 7 October, including when six-year-old Wadea al-Fayoume was stabbed to death in Chicago.

He said he has heard from people who are afraid of speaking out against the atrocities in Gaza, to which he wrote that he will always defend their “right to take part in the California tradition of peaceful protest – to publicly express your opposition to any war or government decision you oppose, including the war in Gaza”.

In a statement, Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (Cair) – Los Angeles, wrote that they were invigorated to see Newsom decide to take action. 

“Governor Newsom’s call for an immediate ceasefire embodies an undeniable truth – California will not shy away from standing for justice and human dignity. We hope this decision will stand as a beacon of compassion and moral leadership and compel other officials to do so as well,” Ayloush said.

‘We need a ceasefire now’

But while some groups were commending Newsom, others were critiquing him.

The conservative website, The Washington Free Beacon, wrote, “Newsom has publicly backed Israel since Hamas’s terror attack in October. But privately, he has raised funds for the primary backer of a group that organized anti-Semitic and anti-Israel protests at California high schools.”

“More than 1,700 California Bay Area teens walked out of class on Wednesday, calling for the eradication of Israel with chants like, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’” the Free Beacon wrote. 

War on Gaza: UN adopts resolution demanding ceasefire after US abstains

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“The protests were planned by the San Francisco-based Arab Resources and Organizing Center (AROC), a fiscally sponsored project of the progressive Tides Center, for which Newsom has raised more than $1 million from his donors.”

Newsom isn’t the first governor to call for a ceasefire. On 15 March, Maryland’s Governor Wes Moore called for a “ceasefire now” on the Kojo Nnamdi Show.

“We have been, and will continue being, strong supporters of the State of Israel, but we’re also strong supporters of the Palestinian people. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East, it’s hurting everyone,” he said.

“It’s hurting Arabs, it’s hurting Muslims, it’s hurting Jews and Christians, people of every faith. And frankly, the response to the horrific terrorist attack on 7 October should give everybody pause in the decisions that have been made by the Netanyahu administration.”

“So make no mistake, we need a ceasefire now,” he said.

On Monday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza for the remainder of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, after the United States abstained from the vote but declined to veto it.

The resolution, which was backed by 14 nations except the US, also called for the release of all Israeli captives held in Gaza and “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into the besieged enclave.

Monday’s vote came as Israeli leaders continued to reiterate their intent to press on with a full-scale ground offensive on Rafah, the southern border city where about 1.5 million Palestinians are currently sheltering.

US: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom calls for ceasefire in Gaza

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