Thank you for contacting me regarding the Rafah sister city resolution. When I met with members of the Rafah sister city group earlier this year, I expressed concerns about the resolution that I had heard voiced from several members of the Madison Jewish community. I suggested that they meet with representatives of that community to see if those concerns could be addressed. Unfortunately, this did not take place and the resolution was introduced, prompting strong reactions both for and against this sister city relationship.
A sister city relationship is an official action of Madison city government. It is not as simple as an individual-to-individual relationship. We would take this action on behalf of all Madisonians, and many Madisonians feel strongly in opposition to this relationship at this time. Moreover, debate of the resolution will most certainly involve the context of Rafah, prompting the Common Council and me to explore issues of Middle East history and politics that we are not well equipped to debate. Finally, we would be doing so at the expense of what I would consider to be more immediate City issues. For all of these reasons, I cannot support the resolution at this time. I do understand the humanitarian concerns in Rafah, and I support and encourage individual citizens to address them as they see fit.
Mayor David J. Cieslewicz
City of Madison