Lately, it takes guts to join a rally in support of Israel in most parts of the Western world. Especially in Europe where it can even take guts to hold a memorial.
We were in Barcelona when the three kidnapped boys' bodies were found. The next evening, as we walked through the central Haime Square in the Gothic Quarter of the city on our way to where we could watch the funerals by ourselves, we saw a lone man in a business suit holding a large Israeli flag in the middle of the large and historic plaza.
When we approached him, he identified himself as Laurence Franks, chief executive of Franks & Associates Consultants and explained that the Jewish community had decided, at his initiative, that a vigil was to take place during the time of the funerals. Once head of the Orthodox synagogue, he was still an activist, he explained sadly, as he handed us his card.
Ten minutes later, the square was filled with several hundred Jews of all ages and appearance. Prams and wheelchairs, European chic and what-have-you. A flag was laid on the ground in the center of the square and covered with candles. Pictures of the boys, flags and signs were handed out and held aloft, the Chief Rabbi of Barcelona, Rabbi Bar Chen said a moving Kaddish, the head of the community Mr. Ben Gigi spoke from the heart.
And then the entire group stood tall and sang Hatikvah. At the end of the song, someone shouted Am Yisrael Chai! and everyone shouted back Am Yisrael Chai in Spanish accents, each then coming forward light one of the memorial candles.
Tears filled our eyes, tears for the precious boys murdered in cold blood, and tears at the sight of the love of our people, no matter where they are – no matter the glares from passersby.
And observing today's anti-Semitic demonstration in Cuerto, seeing the visceral anti-Semitic hatred that has come out of the European woodwork in the past weeks while we are fighting a war for our existence, hatred that we in Israel still find incomprehensible, tears now fill my eyes at the courage these Jews showed in holding a vigil in that city.
How I wish they, too, would come to the Jewish land – where their bravery would be better placed!