Gaza Occupies Toledo City Council

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

After tabling a citizen-drafted resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza, Toledo City Council agreed to have a second hearing on the measure, January 30th.

 At that hearing, Toledoans testified about grandparents who had lost homes and property during the 1948 Nakba; others told of having been displaced multiple times; several people passionately described members of their families who have been killed in Gaza since October 7; and some held back tears as they talked of family they just haven’t heard from.  Following is my statement to the Council.

It’s been 50 years since I was a Navy corpsman at a stateside hospital, taking care of wounded GIs returned from Vietnam, and then on an aircraft carrier. I’ve seen what war does to human beings, but what I saw in the modern, well-equipped hospital wards back then was nothing compared to the human suffering and death shrouding Gaza today.

In addition to the tragic stories of loss you’ve heard tonight, here are other things we should consider.

First, VFP partners with an organization in the Middle East called Combatants for Peace. It is composed of former Israeli and Palestinian soldiers who once fought each other and now work for peace, always in pairs, one Palestinian and one Israeli. Both our organizations have called for a ceasefire because we know what war does to everyone it touches. No matter which side.

For example, Israeli press reports stated in early December that some 5,000 Israeli soldiers have been wounded in Gaza since October 7. Israeli officials warned at that time that cases of PTSD and other trauma-related issues will skyrocket in the next few months. At least 2,000 Israeli soldiers had been declared disabled, with health officials in a hurry to release the wounded so they can admit new patients.

A ceasefire is desperately needed now.

Second, our news media typically gets disturbed about wars only when U.S. military are killed. They may soon have a lot to be disturbed about if a ceasefire isn’t declared. You’ve already heard news of U.S. military killed and wounded as this war spreads beyond Palestine. But we haven’t seen anything yet, if the madmen get their way and go to war with Iran. We have three carrier battle groups within range of Iran’s missiles. Those carriers will be sitting ducks and there are over 3,000 sailors on each one of them. War with Iran could very likely be the match to set off the war that really does end all wars.

A ceasefire is desperately needed now.

Third, there is no military solution to what’s happening in Palestine. There never was and there never will be. Even our Congresswoman recognized during the U.S. occupation of Iraq that we were creating more anti-U.S. fighters every day we were there. How do you think that will play out in Gaza?

A ceasefire is desperately needed now.

Fourth, to those who say our city council has no business passing a ceasefire resolution, I can tell you as someone who once sat where you do tonight, that argument is nonsense. 

Think back to all the resolutions routinely passed honoring sports teams and corporations and festivals… what did any of those have to do with the business of running Toledo? 

You have no business passing a ceasefire resolution? Really? It’s only hundreds of billions of our tax dollars that could go to schools, streets, health clinics and parks; it’s only our young men and women who will be killed and wounded; and it’s only a rare opportunity to exhibit political courage for the sake of humanity.

A ceasefire is desperately needed now.

NOTE: On January 31, Toledo City Council decided it was too controversial to condemn genocide and again tabled the ceasefire resolution.

Mike Ferner is National Director of Veterans For Peace and a former member of Toledo City Council. He can be reached at