Council members comment on visit from Israeli delegates at town council meeting
While business was discussed during the Chapel Hill Town Council’s monthly business meeting, the most passionate point of discussion was a political one.
Five members of the community spoke out against the arrival of four Israeli delegates that were hosted in Chapel Hill Monday.
“It’s dangerous to invite a dialogue with people who are passing apartheid policies without telling the town why we are hosting these people,” said Noah Rubin-Blose, Hillsborough resident and member of Jewish Voice for Peace.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots organization that supports a peaceful relationship between Israel and Palestine.
During their tour, the Israeli delegates were escorted by members of the town council through campus and attended a meeting with council members at Carroll Hall.
The tour, which began in New York City, was meant to give the delegates an idea of how American politics work from the federal level to the local level.
“We are an inclusive community,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger. “Even if you don’t like what they have to say, it has the right to be said. It was distressing to many members (of the community), but we were asked to host and we wanted to share our message of inclusivity with them.”
Some members of the town council were also distressed over the visit.
Town council member Maria Palmer attended the afternoon meeting at Carroll Hall but left before it concluded.
“I couldn’t take it,” Palmer said. “I felt I would be rude or start crying and I didn’t want to do either.”
Still, she admitted the visit was worthwhile.
“It was productive because they heard from our citizens,” Palmer said. “I learned how passionate and defensive people are in what their country stands for. They have some beautiful ideals. If we lived up to our ideals, what a country we would be.”
After public comment was over, it was back to business.
Mary Jane Nirdlinger, the executive director of planning and sustainability for Chapel Hill, asked the council to consider granting a special land use permit to developers at Capkov Ventures Inc.
The Chapel Hill firm reintroduced plans to develop a 71-unit housing development off of Merin Road and Homestead Road. The plans include 62 single-family residences, nine low-income town houses, a community garden and a playground.
The permit was passed 6 to 3.
The council also heard a consideration to expand the Orange County living wage of $12.75 to seasonal employees working in the Chapel Hill parks and recreation department.
The wages would be granted to workers after they worked for at least 90 days. The motion was passed unanimously.
Greensboro and Marion have now signed onto a lawsuit, that Chapel Hill is also a part of, against House Bill 2.
“Passing a resolution and joining a lawsuit isn’t enough," Hemminger said. "I hope we can do more.”
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