Councilmember Chelsea Byers spoke out publicly for the first time on the Israel/Hamas war at City Council’s Monday night meeting, expressing grief for loss of life on both sides of the conflict.
“This has been a devastating week for so many of us caring for people in harm’s way,” Byers said. “It’s not enough that climate change-related and naturally occurring disasters continue to devastate the planet; more than 2,000 Afghani lives, including 90% women and children, were taken by an earthquake just this past week alone. But man-made bloodshed has us reeling. I’m grieving the killed Israelis and Palestinians and all the pain throughout our community and around the globe. I stand firmly against violence and oppression in all forms, be it bombing or terror at any and all scales.”
Apart from a temporary story posted to her Instagram page, the councilwoman had been noticeably silent since Hamas launched a bloody pogrom Oct. 7 which triggered Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza. An outspoken critic of the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians, Byers faced renewed accusations of antisemitism when she did not immediately condemn Hamas’ actions.
Her comments Monday night showed equal sympathy for the dead, but her fears were clearly focused on the lives of the Palestinians now caught in the crossfire.
“My heart breaks for our vast Jewish community here in West Hollywood and throughout Los Angeles, who had already been grappling with rising antisemitic violence, compounding historic traumas of exile and fear,” Byers said. “And for our community and my friends with deep ties to Israel, too many of whom have had loved ones killed on last week’s religious holiday. My heart breaks for our community and friends whose family in Palestine continue to face escalating violence and lack of humanitarian aid.”