Opinion | January 18th, 2024

Open Letter to Council Member Hahn

By: Tim O’Brien 


Sent to Council Member Hahn with no response. 

Submitted to Berkeleyside on December 6, 2023. Never published.



Open letter to Council Member Hahn and all Berkeley City Council Members:


Dear Sophie –


I’m writing to you as someone who voted for you in the last election and believes in the work you’ve done for the City of Berkeley. And now we need you more than ever to, as your website proudly proclaims, “turn bold, progressive ideas into action.” There is no more bold or progressive cause right now than standing up against the indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinian children, women and men.  


It is easy to spout performative rhetoric and stand up for progressive ideals when it is convenient, but a true progressive must stand up even when such a stance is inconvenient, as supervisors Ronen and Preston have done across the Bay in San Francisco. The massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th by Hamas was a gruesome shock to the system, that rightly aroused anger and worldwide condemnation, but … when is enough enough? 


Per Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper that maintains an ongoing list of officially confirmed casualties, they list 29 children as among the dead on October 7th. Over 6,000 children (now 10,000) have been killed since then in Gaza. 6,000. What kind of a conscience can be outraged by the deaths of 29 children killed by small arms fire with no regard for 6,000 killed by carpet bombing? Only a conscience that has abandoned its erstwhile progressive ideals, has let racism creep into its gestalt, and denies the humanity of those 6,000 kids. As you say on your website: “In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” – Angela Davis. Ms. Davis stands unequivocally against this racist slaughter.


And the situation is getting worse as displaced people have nowhere left to go while Israel continues to flout international law. So please, the people of Berkeley are begging you, make good on the lofty notions on your website, make your heroes proud of you, and bring the resolution for a ceasefire to a Council vote. Because as you say: “Berkeley is more than just a place. It’s at the core of who I am and what I stand for.” Berkeley – as it always has – stands against such indiscriminate, state-sponsored murder. Please don’t stand in the way of the city you profess to love. Now is the time to eschew identity politics and embrace the ideals you were raised on.


If you are not ready to support calls for a ceasefire now, when the ratio of Palestinian deaths (conservatively about 16,000) is about 13 to 1 (almost 1200 Israeli dead), what ratio will be enough to turn you back toward the ideals for which you were elected? (Flipside note: the Palestinian death toll is now over 24,000, making the ratio 20 dead Palestinians for every 1 dead Israeli.)


We are counting on you,

Tim O’Brien

UC Berkeley Class of 1986

Father of 3 kids who went through BUSD




Further Reading/Sources:


Anti-Racism Resources Page – Sophie 2020 (sophiehahn.com)


San Francisco Becomes Largest US City to Back Gaza Ceasefire | Truthout


If We Can’t See Gaza’s Dead Children’s Eyes, Can We See Children at All? – Opinion – Haaretz.com 



Subscribe to our Newsletter:

Submit an Opinion Piece