NEW YORK – Over 10,000 people attended a rally Monday in front of the United Nations in a show of solidarity for Israel as it continues to fight Hamas.
“There wasn’t room to fit in another body,” Jeff Rafalaf of Westport, Connecticut, said.
The UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York organized Monday’s rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. In addition several Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jewish groups co-sponsored the rally, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Placards reading “we are all Israel” and “NY Loves Israel” were held high. Many in the crowd waved Israeli flags. People seemed to fill every square inch of 47th Street between First and Second Avenues, Rafalaf said.
“It was strength of numbers and strength of spirit. It was important emotionally,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the NY Board of Rabbis.
The roster of speakers included Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor and the Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni. Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Richard M. Joel, President of New York’s Yeshiva University also spoke.
Prosor said he hoped the voice of those present, the “sane” voice, would penetrate the nearby UN building. He stressed that Israel seeks peace, but that there could be no peace so long as Hamas is trying to murder its people.
There were also clergy from other faiths including the Rev. Jacques Degraff. And Assemblyman Hakim Jeffries’ remarks that Israel has “always prevailed” and “will prevail again” were met with thunderous applause, Potasnik said.
“Nobody cared about denomination today,” Potasnik said.
The Solidarity Rally coincided with the “National Leadership Assembly for Israel” meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The conference, organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations brought together leaders from the largest Jewish organizations in the US.
“It was as serious as it’s been since the Six Day War. Everybody was there together. It’s the first time in a very long time that Jews are united on all political fronts.”
While there was a small pro-Palestinian protest across the street, the New York Police Department “did an excellent job” of keeping everything peaceful, Rafalaf said.
The Maccabeats, a Jewish a cappella group, performed and the two-and-half-hour rally closed with Hatikvah.
“The mood was very festive, very upbeat,” Rafalaf said. “I’m really glad we went.”
JTA contributed to this report.