PGH DSA calls upon Sara Innamorato to end her seven months of silence on the US-funded Israeli genocide of Palestinians

Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists of America calls upon Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato to end her seven months of silence on the US-funded Israeli genocide of Palestinians.

On October 11th, Sara Innamorato issued a statement which remains one of very few she has issued since Israel’s genocide began. In this statement, she:

  • Explicitly endorsed the forced displacement of Palestinians–a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.
  • Condemned our chapter, and DSA nationally, for our solidarity with Palestine and our stance on the correct side of history in opposition to Israeli aggression.
  • Explicitly affirmed Innamorato has solidarity with Jewish people and endorsed Israel’s right to defend itself, while including no mention of solidarity with Palestinians or their right to defend themselves.
  • Implied accusations of antisemitism toward a statement written and edited nearly entirely by Jewish constituents of hers.
  • Opportunistically attempted to score cheap political points off a genocide that could be seen escalating in real-time and has only worsened since.

As time has clarified which side of this is the right side of history to stand on, we are confident Sara Innamorato hoped her silence in the months since then means she will never have to answer for her choices in a critical moment. However, our County Executive has repeatedly been called upon to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and her silence is shameful. 

When hundreds of constituents spoke passionately at County Council on February 20th and March 5th asking for Allegheny County to pass a resolution in favor of a ceasefire, our County Executive remained silent.

While voting against the ceasefire resolution, County Councilor Bob Macey justified his rationale based on blatantly xenophobic, white supremacist conspiracy theories. Just 10 days later our county executive announced her reappointment of Councilor Macey to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission Board, despite widespread outrage at Macey. In our most generous interpretation of that appointment, which we’re grateful County Council rejected, it seems Innamorato’s determination to avoid any perception of changing her prior stance may have been a higher priority than preventing a bigoted councilor from having a say in how federal funds are distributed to which communities. 

When Congresswoman Summer Lee faced repeated attacks for her votes for a ceasefire and against unconditional military aid to Israel, Sara Innamorato did not join community members in defending Lee’s stances, despite endorsing Rep. Lee.

When University of Pittsburgh students joined a national movement of student-led encampments and campus protests by setting up their own encampment and issuing demands, including calling on Pitt’s Board of Trustees to disclose and fully divest from all university investments in the Israeli apartheid regime and to acknowledge the genocide, Sara Innamorato remained silent despite being a member of that very Board of Trustees.

In the past 7 months, Israel has killed over 35,000 Palestinians, including 19,450 children. Israel has used chemical weapons on civilians repeatedly, systematically tortured Palestinians, tortured UNRWA staff, systematically targeted and bombed hospitals in Gaza, attacked healthcare facilities or providers in nearly 800 documented occasions, destroyed every university in Gaza, killed over 220 aid workers, and killed nearly 100 Palestinian journalists. The United Nations Security Council has referred to the situation as “a catastrophic humanitarian situation [with] the threat of imminent famine in Gaza.” And every day of those ongoing horrors, Sara Innamorato has remained silent.

Since Sara Innamorato’s endorsement of Israel’s ethnic cleansing by forced displacement, Israel has ordered Palestinians to evacuate to southern Gaza only to bombard the supposed evacuation routes and areas. In the past week, now that such evacuations have left 1.2 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah–a city in southern Gaza, Israel has again announced Palestinians must evacuate and begun attacking Palestinians while preventing any viable mass evacuation. Each time these supposed humanitarian forced displacements have been proven anything but humanitarian, Sara Innamorato has remained silent.

In 2017, we endorsed Sara Innamorato’s campaign for State Representative because she came to us then as a member and a socialist sharing our vision for building a better world. In her application for our endorsement, she stated, “Yes, I am a democratic socialist, because I believe that government should put people first when making policy decisions.” 

As she made clear in her Allegheny County Executive campaign, Sara Innamorato either abandoned those ideals or never actually held them to begin with. Additionally, we can confirm as she’s stated, Sara Innamorato has not been a member of DSA since 2019.

Despite a strained relationship, we had been hopeful for what an Innamorato-era of Allegheny County could mean for the ability to build an Allegheny County for all. Many of our members volunteered on their own for her campaign, especially in the primary. Even after her condemnation of us, we’d held out hope that at least on local matters, she might still be more willing to fight for what’s right than the prior County Executive was.

But County Executive Innamorato’s continued silence, even when choices on whether to oppose or stand with Israel’s genocide come before her in her capacity as County Executive, calls into question whether Sara Innamorato will prioritize her support for genocide over the vision for an “Allegheny County for All” she campaigned on. Allegheny County includes Palestinian residents whose families and friends are being killed by weapons all of our tax dollars fund. Does her vision of an Allegheny County for All include Palestinians?

It is possible Sara Innamorato thought she was making a shrewd political calculation putting notions of electability over morality, but Innamorato’s stance is wildly out of step with the views of the public, especially those of her own party. According to a recent poll, 70% of Americans support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. 83% of Democrats support a ceasefire, and 56% of Democrats believe Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

It is too late to have stood on the right side of this from the beginning, and there is real harm for her to repair for that. However, it is not too late to begin standing on the right side of history now. We call upon Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato to:

  • Issue an acknowledgment of genocide and a statement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
  • Apologize for her previous remarks in support of ethnic cleansing.
  • Fully disclose Allegheny County’s investments in the Israeli apartheid regime and those profiting off its genocidal war, especially weapons manufacturers.
  • In her capacity as a Trustee of the University of Pittsburgh, push for Pitt to meet the demands of the Pitt student encampment, specifically:
    • Full disclosure of all university investments in the Israeli apartheid regime.
    • An acknowledgment of genocide and a statement in solidarity with the Palestinian people by the university administration.
    • Full material divestment from any entity associated with the Israeli apartheid regime including through academic boycotts and demilitarization.
    • Reject the normalization of ties with the Israeli apartheid regime.
    • Demand legal and disciplinary amnesty for all Pitt encampment arrestees, as well as all student protestors.