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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Students, faculty member lead ceasefire discussion at City Hall meeting

The speeches came during the Public Comments portion of the Feb. 13 meeting in Easton. (Photo courtesy of Lehigh Valley News)

Film & Media Studies visiting professor Drew Swedberg, Ari Ismail ‘26 and Yaseen Saleh ‘25 gave a speech at the Feb. 13 Easton City Council meeting calling for a public resolution for a permanent ceasefire in Palestine. 

The speech was part of the Lehigh Valley Artists for a Free Palestine campaign. Over 100 artists and community members voiced their support for the cause, signing a digital letter that criticizes supposed anti-Palestinian sentiment in Pennsylvania.

Swedberg read directly from the letter as part of his speech to Easton City Council. The letter, from Jan. 12, includes support of individuals from Lafayette College, Lehigh University and nonprofit organizations like Queer and Trans Lehigh Valley, among others.

“We unequivocally stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Swedberg said during the speech. “Until Palestine is free, until we all are free, this is where our focus is, and will be.”

“Because [young voters] care about ending this genocide and the liberation of all people, we are going to make the decision to not vote for people who are continually staying silent on and funding [the Palestinian conflict],” Ismail, who is also involved with the student coalition Pards for Palestine on campus, said during their speech. 

Swedberg emphasized that the foreign conflict is essential to the City of Easton.

“We believe that a U.S.-backed genocide, funded by our tax dollars, right here in Easton, is in our purview, that it does have a bearing and a place here,” Swedberg continued. 

“The call for an immediate ceasefire is incumbent upon all of us,” the letter reads. “Therefore, we call upon Mayor Matthew Tuerk, Mayor Salvatore J. Panto, Jr., and Mayor J. William Reynolds, along with all of our city council members, to stand with their constituents and release public resolutions calling for a ‘permanent ceasefire’. We cannot allow silence to manufacture our community’s consent in this genocide.”

The letter states that the undersigned artists refuse to vote for any mayor or city council member who does not openly support these resolutions. The campaign is still open and accepting signatures. 

This is not the first time the call for a ceasefire resolution has been presented to Easton officials. Last October, Councilwoman Taiba Sultana introduced an Israel-Hamas cease-fire resolution to the Easton City Council. The resolution did not pass. 

“Whereas the City of Easton rejects fanning the flames of war or depriving people of the food, water, medicine and shelter all human beings depend on … now therefore be it resolved that the City of Easton, per our commitment to peace and humanity, condemns violence and barbarity,” the Oct. 23 resolution read. 

Sultana also spoke in favor of a ceasefire resolution during the Feb. 13 meeting.

“I would encourage you to add all those state representatives [to the letter], because [they] passed a resolution in Harrisburg to send unconditional support to Israel,” Sultana said during the meeting. “So please, when you mention all those elected officials, make sure you mention … state representatives.”  

As of Feb. 23, the City of Easton does not have an official stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Easton’s mayor Sal Panto did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

On Feb. 20, Lehigh University students, professors and Bethlehem community members similarly spoke at a Bethlehem City Council meeting asking the city to call for a ceasefire. According to the Brown and White, 23 people talked on the matter during the Public Comments portion of the meeting.

Swedberg, Saleh and Ismail declined to comment to The Lafayette following their Feb. 13 comments. 

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About the Contributor
Makenna McCall, Staff News Writer
Tall, left-handed and stupid.

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  • S

    Steve HobsFeb 23, 2024 at 1:09 pm

    Yes, because Palestine and Israel are waiting on Easton’s direction regarding a ceasefire.

    • P

      pardFeb 25, 2024 at 8:55 am

      Yes, because Lafayette students are waiting on Steve Hobs opinion.