The debate over Israel’s war against Hamas came to Dover Wednesday night when city councilors passed a “ceasefire” resolution in a 7-1 vote.

However, rather than holding a recorded roll call vote, the council passed the resolution by a show of hands.

The sole “no” vote came from Ward 6 Councilor Fergus Cullen, who tried to have the resolution removed from the meeting’s agenda as non-germane to their duties.

“I have publicly announced and informed my colleagues that, at the top of tonight’s [city council] meeting, I’m going to move that we remove this item from the agenda,” Cullen told NHJournal beforehand. “This is the Dover City Council, not the United Nations.”

However, Cullen’s motion to remove failed to get a second, and the council proceeded with discussion and a vote.

Most of the people who showed up for the council meeting supported the resolution, and many were openly anti-Israel.

Dover resident Maggie Fogarty said she was offended by Cullen’s attempt to move the resolution off the agenda.

“It’s a daily catastrophe fueled by United States weapons funded by United States tax dollars that flow freely without consequence. Sen. (Maggie) Hassan and Rep. (Chris) Pappas have done next to nothing.”

Fogarty insisted the vote wasn’t merely symbolic. “It’s a moral obligation.”

Resident Joe Merullo, on the other hand, urged the council to reject it.

“Aside from the fact any call for ceasefire continues the existence of Hamas, aside from the fact Hamas embeds itself in hospitals and makes it impossible for Israel not to put through casualties — aside from all of this, this resolution is outside the purview of this council,” Merullo said.

“It is nothing more than the pushing of a progressive agenda by certain individuals on this council.”

State Rep. Peter Schmidt (D-Dover) spoke in favor of the resolution. Like many supporters, Schmidt complained that the mildly worded resolution was “toothless” but added that something had to be done to condemn the violence.

Councilor April Richer, who proposed the resolution, touted the mild language as a positive, saying her goal was a statement that was as “inclusive” as possible.

“I am not asking to solve [the conflict], I’m just asking we be responsible for what we do. We need to make a statement. We don’t want our money to be sent into this conflict to further it,” Richer said.

Councilor Robert Warach, who worked with Richer on the resolution, concurred.

“We tried very hard to make this resolution focus on humanitarian efforts and bringing the hostages home and supporting peace — not pointing fingers,” he said. “The phrase ‘never again’ is for everyone,” Warach added.

Cullen was the last councilor to speak, and he quoted 18th-century British politician Edmund Burke, one of the founders of conservative politics. Cullen said the argument that citizens were asking the council to pass the resolution was insufficient, as Burke stated 200 years ago.

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays you instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion,” Burke said, a quote Cullen shared with the council.

“We get requests all the time from constituents: Fire the city manager. Defund the police. We should have a year-round 24-7 homeless shelter,” Cullen said. “We don’t respond to every request and bring them to a vote. We exercise judgment.”

Cullen didn’t prevail. The council voted in a show of hands, and the resolution passed 7-1, with one councilor absent.

Republican candidate for Congress Russell Prescott released a statement regarding Dover’s vote.

“It is right for the resolution to be removed from the agenda simply because it is not germane to local municipal governance, but this goes beyond that,” Prescott said. “A small group of extreme, antisemitic activists in the Democratic Party are using resolutions and protests in towns and cities across our state to influence public opinion and put pressure on our federal officials like Rep. Chris Pappas.

“I have said the following many times, but since our congressman has become dangerously wishy-washy on the topic as pressure from his political base gets louder, I will continue to echo the following: “Hamas is evil. Hamas attacked Israel, and Israel had every right to defend itself.”

Resolutions regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict have been brought before several Granite State cities, including Concord, Manchester, and Portsmouth, all of which declined to take them up for a vote. But in nearby Durham, another deep-blue community, “A Ceasefire Resolution Acknowledging the Impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza & Israel,” passed the council by a 6-2 margin.

The Dover resolution describes the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel as “a barbaric and deadly massacre against Israeli civilians, leaving 1,200 dead and taking captive over 253 Israeli and international hostages, of whom over 134 hostages have still not been returned.”

However, it also calls Israel’s response “a massive and disproportionate military campaign that, to date, has resulted in the deaths of 32,000 Palestinians, of which 13,000 are children.”

Those casualty numbers, which come from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, are unconfirmed and, experts say, almost certainly inaccurate.

The resolution acknowledges the Israel-Hamas conflict is “an international issue … outside our scope of
municipal governance,” but claims that it is having “profound social and emotional impacts on the residents of the City of Dover” and causing “significant distress among many of our residents.”

The resolution concludes:


“As principles in line with our community’s values, the City of Dover asks the President of the United States and members of the United States Congress to 1) secure a bilateral ceasefire that guarantees all Palestinians and Israelis the right to safety, dignity, and freedom; 2) immediately ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza; and 3) ensure the unconditional and immediate release of all hostages.”

The resolution also calls for a copy to be sent to President Joe Biden and the four members of the federal delegation, including Pappas, their own member of Congress.

Pappas came under fire from Republicans and supporters of Israel last week when he suggested Israel may be intentionally targeting and killing aid workers operating in Gaza and that Israel needed a “push” from the U.S. to take policies avoiding civilian casualties.

Pappas refused to respond to questions from NHJournal about whether other U.S. allies like Canada or the U.K. need similar wartime guidance from the United States.