Death may be the ultimate fate of us all, but it comes in many forms. In Chicago in recent years, all too often it has come from a bullet amid gangland turf wars and skyrocketing violent crime. In southern Israel on Oct. 7, it came for 1,200 men, women and children on a single day after hours of rapine, torture and bodily mutilation at the hands of Hamas and Palestinian terrorists; for the 240 captives dragged back to the Gaza Strip by the invaders, the horror has continued.
Brandon Johnson, not even a year into his first term as mayor of Chicago, has made the legacy-defining decision to signal his support for violent terrorism, which is unlikely to make Chicago safer for anyone.
The year 2023 saw nearly 27,700 violent crimes reported in the city of Chicago, a level not seen since the previous high in 2011. Six hundred homicides were reported—almost two per day—one of the highest rates in the nation. Nor is the spiraling rise in crime random or accidental; it is directly attributable to city policy. Less than 12% of all reported crimes resulted in an arrest, compared to an average of 22% over the past decade. Is it any surprise, then, that citywide crime rose by 13% during the first eight months of 2023?
Unfortunately, the permissive attitude of the Chicago administration towards unspeakable violence extends beyond the domestic and into the international realm. On Jan. 31, the Chicago City Council found itself deadlocked—with 23 yeas and 23 nays—over a one-sided resolution that would impose an immediate ceasefire on Israel and that fails to condemn the Hamas terror organization. As the council’s only Jewish member, Debra Silverstein, pointed out, the resolution doesn’t mention the “kidnapping, abuse, depravation and rape” that Hamas committed during the Oct. 7 atrocities in Israel or demand “the unconditional release of all of the innocent hostages.” Throughout, threatening protesters chanted at her: “Silverstein[,] you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide.”
The shocking outcome of the vote, it emerged, was no accident. Johnson personally pressured fence-sitting members of the council, telling Alderperson Stephanie Coleman and Vice Mayor Walter Burnett to “take a walk” if they couldn’t vote in favor of the resolution. Once he had manufactured his tie, Johnson himself cast the deciding vote in favor of a resolution that would leave more than 130 innocent Israelis under permanent Hamas control, where released hostages have described ongoing rape and intense psychological abuse.
The approved resolution was sent to the members of the Illinois congressional delegation, where it has had an immediate and painful impact. When the U.S. Congress voted 422-2 on Jan. 31 to ban Hamas and the other perpetrators of the Oct. 7 attacks from U.S. soil, Chicago-based Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) was unable to take a position and voted “present.” She justified her vote by calling the ban “a waste of resources and time. And I’m not playing along.”
These actions bring everything full circle. The same Chicago leadership that has allowed criminals to run rampant over the safety and well-being of law-abiding Chicagoans is now inviting the Oct. 7 rapists to U.S. shores to join in the fun. About 300,000 Jews live in the Chicago metropolitan area, making it the 10th-largest urban Jewish population on the planet. Chicago’s leadership class just put them on notice that their voices, their concerns and their very lives are irrelevant to decision-making.
For now, Chicago belongs to the gangs and the terror supporters. It’s their world; the beleaguered Jewish community is just living in it.