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Op-Ed: Rallying for Israel in NYC

People felt they needed to be at the pro-Israel rally.
Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:15 PM


Fifteen thousand (busy) people came out, unable to stay away, needing to be there, with each other, with Israel, in public, on record.

Our finest and most cherished young men are heroically fighting and dying so that our people might continue to live.

Just today, a meeting of European Jewish leaders was held in the Knesset. They talked about how the level of anti-Semitism has rapidly approached Holocaust-era levels.

One woman just told me that the Israeli and American politicians who spoke (Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, Democratic Congressman, Steve Israel, Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Israeli Consul, Ido Aharoni, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, Rabbi Avi Weiss, Borough President Scott Stringer, Democratic Congresswoman, Nydia Velazquez, a host of conservative and Republican politicians, etc.) were all wonderful: Brief, and to the point, but that what moved her was how big the rally was—how many Democratic politicians were there.

“This is a good sign, maybe American Jews finally get it.”

Another woman just called me. “Motek, I could not stay home, our boys are dying, this is only the beginning, it will start getting more intense and this rally gave me hope and strength and a feeling of unity.”

I myself know many parents whose sons are fighting in Gaza. They are having a hard time taking that next breath.

This rally might signify that Jews understand that Israel cannot stand alone, that even if American foreign policy has just betrayed Israel and sanity itself, that the Jewish people are behind Israel’s survival—as are Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

A new series of alliances are in formation; Democratic politicians have just turned out for Israel; and America’s President and Secretary of State seem to be drifting further and further away from reality and from the future.

And on the other end of the spectrum:

Twenty to thirty people were arrested “for Hamas” today at midday in New York City. They lay down in the street opposite the Israeli Mission to the United Nations and blocked traffic for miles around. They chanted nothing and simply lay there in silence. The police asked them to get up—and thirty people did so—but when the remaining lie-in protestors refused to do so, the police arrested them.

Their leader was none other than Norman Finkelstein,” the known and proud supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, a man who defends their right to target Israeli civilians." Finkelstein is the troubled and troublesome Jewish anti-Zionist activist and author who is also the son of Holocaust survivors.

 He is living proof that Hitler’s evil lives on in the lives of both Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

 Finkelstein has attacked Alan Dershowitz (and myself) for our work on anti-Semitism and for our support of Israel. He also views what he calls “The Holocaust Industry” very negatively. He believes in boycotts against Israel-only and counts Noam Chomsky as a supporter.  

Arab, Palestinian, left, and Feminist groups circulated information about this rally-- but the actual turn-out was very poor. Perhaps one hundred protestors came and after the mass arrests, thirty protestors remained. Sixty percent of the demonstrators were women.

By then, there were more passersby who stopped to watch, listen, and argue. Screaming matches broke out between some pro-Israel passersby and the pro-Hamas demonstrators.

For example, one pro-Israel passerby said that Israel was suggesting that “Hamas was being negligent in not finding ways, like a special app, to warn their own civilians of an attack.” The pro-Hamas demonstrator said that “it was absurd to suggest that Palestinian civilians could be protected by an iPhone App, since Palestinian civilians do not have iPhones. They need water and shelter.”

Actually, what Gazans need most are bomb shelters and to be rid of Hamas.

Pro-forma, the demonstrators were kept across the street from the Israeli Mission, behind metal barriers. There was also a large police presence.

Demonstrators carried signs reading: “Stop Gaza Genocide Now;” “Free Palestine, Stop Killing Children;” “End Genocide, Stop Killing Children.” “Solidarity with Children of Gaza;” “No more money for Israel’s Crimes,” and simply “Gaza.”

The information is coming in and it is very clear. Israel does not kill Palestinian children but Hamas does. They situate their bombs and rockets in civilian homes, kindergartens, UN schools, hospitals and mosques. They also “weaponize” women and children.

They chose to use all shipments of cement to build terror tunnels which burrowed into Israel—and failed to build any bomb shelters for their own people.

In addition, they used child labor, and in so doing murdered at least 160 children in the building of these tunnels. 

I have just been told that earlier today, Hamas police actually shot their own people who had lined up for food coupons. An Israeli colleague saw a report on Israel’s Channel 10 of a “demonstration at Bet Hanoun over distribution of food coupons that got out of hand, e.g. stone throwing, etc. The Hamas police opened fire, killed five people and wounded a few dozen more.”

Hamas rockets are known to fall short—both purposely and accidentally. These rockets were responsible for the damage to Shifa Hospital. Of course, Israel got blamed anyway.

Mainly, Israel has taken exquisite care to avoid targeting civilians. The real numbers are unbelievable—and they are not believed. Here is one of many careful calculations about how low the actual Palestinian civilian deaths really are at Israeli hands.

Nevertheless, here is what one Palestinian woman demonstrator had to say in NYC:

“Seven family members died in Gaza. I'm just so angry to see what's happening and I came here to get my anger out and support my people. I heard about this demonstration from friends in Australia where I live.”

Another woman, visibly Arab, said that a friend on Facebook had alerted her to this demonstration. She came in order to “support the Palestinians.”

Most demonstrators would not reveal their names and would not allow themselves to be tape recorded. The demonstrators did not really want to talk. However, they did talk to a large film crew that was probably doing a pro-Hamas and pro-Palestinian documentary. 

And here is their leader and his Nazi salute:

Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and the author of fifteen books, including her latest, An American Bride in Kabul.