Activists Call on Costa to Meet with Palestinian and Muslim Leaders

In front of the downtown Fresno building where Rep. Jim Costa’s office is located, a Palestinian named Kareem spoke about his family, many of whom are still in Palestine. Photo by Peter Maiden
In front of the downtown Fresno building where Rep. Jim Costa’s office is located, a Palestinian named Kareem spoke about his family, many of whom are still in Palestine. Photo by Peter Maiden

On March 22, the Palestine Liberation Group (PLG), the Sacramento Valley/Central California Office of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV/CC), local organizations and activists released a statement and held a press conference calling on Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) to engage with local Palestinian and Muslim leaders.

“Despite repeated requests and five months without a meeting, [Rep.] Costa has yet to agree to a meeting, missing critical opportunities to hear directly from his constituents in a time when fostering understanding and cooperation between elected officials and the diverse communities they serve is more important than ever,” according to the statement.

“[Rep.] Costa’s refusal stands out as a concerning gap in representation. This press conference aims to highlight the importance of inclusive dialogue and the need for our elected representatives to be accessible to all constituents, including the local community.

“We call on Rep. Costa to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and stop using taxpayer dollars to fund this genocide.”

Speaking at the press conference, Sukaina Hussain, executive director of CAIR, added, “Since Rep. Costa has refused to meet with local Palestinians and community leaders, despite many repeated requests, we are here today calling on Rep. Costa to take that crucial step and engage with local Palestinian and Muslim leaders and to call for an intermediate and permanent ceasefire [in Gaza].

“[Rep.] Costa’s refusal to meet with the community stands out as an extremely disturbing gap in representation in a democracy. [He] is missing critical opportunities to hear directly from constituents and that’s failing in his duty as an elected official.”

Another speaker, Samai Munoz with the Palestine Liberation Group, said, “As of March 21, 2024, there have been over 32,000 people killed in Gaza, which included over 13,000 children.

“There are countless reports and data showing that Gaza is on the brink of famine, and starvation is being used as a weapon of collective punishment.

“As a diverse community of constituents, we are extremely disappointed that Rep. Jim Costa has refused to meet. Since October, we have submitted over 600 e-mails to his office. We have made countless calls.

“Every meeting was canceled or proposed further out without adequate explanation or reason. This is not only an insult but [also] a violation of the values of democracy in this country.

“During a time when we see increased Islamophobia and attacks on the Muslim and Palestinian community, his response to meet with his constituents is extremely disturbing.”

Zaina Roussn, also with the PLG, added, “President Biden is complicit in this genocide. The resolution that has been put forward by this administration to the UN on March 21 is long overdue, and we hope it will cement an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

“We are calling on Rep. Jim Costa to join many other elected officials in local cities across the United States to call for [a] permanent and immediate ceasefire. [His] silence on the humanity of Palestinians and his vocal support for the Israeli government causes him to be complicit in the war crimes perpetuated by the Israeli government [and] the ongoing genocide.”

Kareem, a Palestinian American from Fresno, said, “My life as a Palestinian American, as well as the lives of many Palestinian Americans, has been upside down. And Jim Costa is doing nothing but contributing to the alienation of our community due to his lack of communication and silence about atrocities.

“A big part of my family resides in Gaza, and I’m really struggling to live at the moment. My 80-year-old grandmother, my aunt, my cousins and many other family members are struggling to live in north Gaza.

“Between the months of October and December, my grandmother and her sister had to flee their home to find safety, and then were displaced countless times. My aunt and cousins were displaced numerous times in search of safety.

“On Dec. 9, we lost contact with all members of our family for 40 days. It felt more like 40 years. During those 40 days, you can imagine, we weren’t sleeping. Frankly, every aspect of my life is extremely difficult, but how much more difficult is it for my family?

“I spent hours every day trying to get a hold of anyone in Gaza to let me know if they were still alive. I even contacted the remaining functional hospitals at the time to see if they had their names on one of their lists, because uncertainty, that kind of uncertainty, just paralyzes you. Two weeks ago, I was finally able to get a hold of my family and talk to them.”

Rep. Costa has made this statement about the war on Gaza: “The unprovoked attack on Israel by Hamas is an act of war on one of our most trusted and long-term allies in the Middle East. We join with the Israeli people in support of their defense to maintain their independence, sovereignty and freedoms that we share in common.

“Congress and the administration must come together in a strong bipartisan response to reaffirm our support as Israel defends itself from this attack. We must be prepared to provide additional military and economic resources so that Israel can successfully defend itself against this attack and any other aggression by its professed enemies.”


  • Bob McCloskey

    Bob McCloskey is an activist and a reporter for the Community Alliance newspaper. Contact him at

    View all posts
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x