At least 15,000 people gathered in New York City's Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on Monday, in tremendous support for Israel and its self-defense operation against Hamas.
“We raise our voices to stand with Israel,” was a refrain heard over and over in the emotional rally, which countered a pro-Palestinian protest held over the weekend.
“Let us not forget one word describes why there are so many innocent who died: Hamas,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, as quoted by the New York Observer.
“The bottom line is very simple. We must send a message from one corner of this globe to the other and to that building over there that you will not have peace as long as Hamas has power. Hamas is a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction who believes they have a moral right to start war at any occasion.”
Congressman Eliot Engel, the ranking members of the foreign affairs committee, also blasted media organizations for their pro-Palestinian bias.
“You know the media has not exactly been fair to Israel and it’s time that we stand up and say we are not going to accept this biased, one-side coverage," Engel said. "The media must be fair and it must be accurate and we have not seen fairness and accuracy at all."
"What is Israel to do?" he continued. "Would we in the United States tolerate a terrorist group in Canada lobbing missiles at American citizens in New York? I don’t think so.”
Engel also vowed to introduce legislation to bolster the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries noted that Israel lives in a “very tough neighborhood.”
“We know Israel lives in a very tough neighborhood,” Jeffries said. “And there are certain realities to that. We mourn the loss of civilian life on both sides of the conflict but when you live in a tough neighborhood Israel should not be made to apologize for its strength. You know why? Because the only thing that neighbors respect in a tough neighborhood is strength.”
The pro-Israel rally, led by UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC), featured speeches by Ambassador Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York; Ambassador Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN; Senator Charles Schumer; Congressman Eliot Engel; Congressman Steve Israel; Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez; Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; and Congresswoman Grace Meng.
Monday's pro-Israel protest had a much higher turnout than the highly publicized pro-Palestinian demonstration in Manhattan on Friday, which saw some 3,000 leftists and pro-Palestinian demonstrators take to the streets against Operation Protective Edge.