15,000 Rally Outside the UN Anguish and Horror Written on Faces
Menu JTA Search

15,000 Rally Outside the UN Anguish and Horror Written on Faces

Download PDF for this date

More than 15,000 people solidly packed Dag Hammarskjold Plaza opposite the United Nations today in a solemn demonstration of mourning for the victims of yesterday’s massacre at Maalot. The demonstration began at noon–calm and almost silent at first, the anguish and horror written on the faces of the participants rather than expressed in words. But as the day progressed and more thousands poured into the area, emotions took hold and crowds pushed into the UN grounds, shouting “We will not leave” to police trying to disperse them. Eight demonstrators who chained themselves to the UN fence were arrested by police.

Hundreds of Hebrew school pupils from throughout the New York metropolitan area were in the throngs that completely blocked First Avenue in the vicinity of the UN and clogged the side streets. Police cordoned off the entire area and re-routed traffic. By late afternoon the demonstration was still in full swing.

It was organized and sponsored by B’nai B’rith, the Board of Jewish Education and the National Council of Young Israel. Three coffins draped with Israeli flags were marched back and forth through the crowd, symbolizing the 20 Israeli high school students and other victims of the terrorist outrage who were buried at stormy funeral services in Israel today.

Speakers at the demonstration today included New York City Mayor Abraham Beame; Israeli Consul General David Rivlin; Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Stanley Lowell, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry; and Arnold Forster, chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League.

All of them placed the burden of guilt for yesterday’s terrible events in Israel on the European nations which, in five years captured more than 160 terrorists and freed all but nine; and on the United Nations which, as they said, was forever censuring Israel while refusing to censure the Arabs for the massacres committed both in Israel and abroad. There was no condemnation, they noted, for the slaughter of 18 men, women and children in Kiryat Shemona little more than a month before the massacre at Maalot.


Before the demonstration started at noon, a delegation of the Presidents Conference met with the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Scali, and members of the U.S. Mission staff to discuss the Maalot tragedy and U.S. government reaction. The group expressed horror and dismay at the continuing acts of terrorism that culminated in yesterday’s horrors. They called Scali’s attention to the feelings of the American Jewish community over U.S. support for a Security Council resolution last month condemning Israel for its retaliatory raid on Lebanon without mentioning the massacre at Kiryat Shemona.

Scali issued a statement yesterday condemning the terrorist acts. “I am sickened, outraged and depressed by this barbaric incident (at Maalot);” he said. “This fanaticism must be condemned by humanity and it must be stopped, but we must not permit this tragedy to deflect us from our goal of an enduring peace and a world where neighbors live as compassionate friends and the innocent walk unafraid.” Scali said.


Some 800 people gathered in Toronto last night to express their common grief and sorrow with the parents of the children murdered in cold blood in Maalot. The demonstration was called by the local offices of the Canadian Zionist Federation, Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith. The three major organizations have also called for a memorial meeting on Sunday. Philip G. Givens. Q.C., M.P.P., national president of the CZF, who addressed the rally last night, said that more than 10,000 people are expected to participate in Sunday’s memorial meeting.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund