Addressing Antisemitism at Las Cruces City Council

Addressing Antisemitism at Las Cruces City Council
Rabbi Evette Lutman of Temple Beth El, Las Cruces addresses the Las Cruces City Council on May 6th to request they remove a biased resolution from the agenda, as shown in a screenshot taken from the Las Cruces City Council public participation video.

by Marla Cohen, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Las Cruces and El Paso

During Passover, the Jewish Federation of El Paso and Las Cruces learned that an antisemitic resolution was being considered by the Las Cruces City Council.   This was a surprising turnaround from December 2023 when the Las Cruces City Council passed a resolution denouncing antisemitism.  Several months into the war, the city council was being pressured to denounce Israel and support Hamas. It was a shocking moment for many of us.

The resolution for a ceasefire placed the war in Gaza on Israel’s shoulders without any mention of Hamas or October 7th. It was one of the most insidious resolutions we have seen to date. While international affairs have no place in local city councils, the combination of a petition signed by 500 people locally and with ceasefire resolutions at over 100 other city councils across America encouraged this resolution. 

We are grateful to Councilman Bill Matisse for alerting  Francis Williams and others that this was happening. With the help of Francis and Monika Kimble, Debra Kanof, Rabbi Lutman, Peter Svarzbein,  Stuart Schwartz, Mike White,  Joyce Davidoff and Temple Beth El’s social action committee, we were able to assemble talking points for distribution and launched an email and phone campaign as well as meetings with council members and the Mayor.

Thankfully, the resolution was successfully removed from the May 6 agenda. Despite student protests trying to interrupt and shut down the council meeting, the City Council heard almost two hours of emotional and passionate comments from a broad range of community members including Jews, Christian, business owners, veterans, grandparents, and students. 

Rabbi Evette Lutman of Temple Beth El and Rabbi Bery Schmukler of Chabad Las Cruces spoke eloquently as did Monika Kimbell. You may see the Las Cruces City Council meeting here. This victory was a testament to the strength and resilience of Las Cruces’s Jewish community and all of us.

Reprinted by permission from the “Jewish Voice,” a community paper of the Jewish Federation of El Paso and Las Cruces.
The screenshot image was made by Diane Schmidt/nmjewishjournal from public access video made available by the City of Las Cruces.

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