NEW YORK, July 5 (JTA) — For a couple of hours this week, Central Park was awash in Israeli blue and white.
Bearing pro-Zionist signs and the Jewish state’s flags, an estimated 1,000 Jewish teen-agers gathered in Manhattan on Tuesday to show solidarity for Israel in the face of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence.
The Young Judaea youth group organized the rally of campers from the New York area, including camps run by Jewish community centers, as well as the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements.
“We want to stand up and show the world that we’re together in support of Israel,” Josh Scharff, 18, national youth president of Young Judaea, told JTA.
The rally sought to increase awareness of Israeli MIAs, including three Israeli soldiers and one civilian who were abducted by Hezbollah last October.
Campers from Young Judaea’s Tel Yehudah in upstate New York walked through the crowd, soliciting signatures for a petition calling on U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and other political leaders to take action on behalf of the missing Israelis.
Speakers and banners at the rally also criticized what they called the biased reporting of the current Mideast violence.
About half of the rally participants packed in toward the stage, while the rest sat quietly nearby in the hot sun as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Alon Pinkas, Israel’s consul general in New York, addressed them
Nadler told the audience their activism is vital in the path to peace. “As the Talmud tells us, you don’t depend on a miracle,” he said.
Doron Krakow, national director of Young Judaea, said he hopes the event sparks Jewish student activism.
“We want to create a far more engaged generation. This youth generation has been a relatively passive one, especially on issues of Jewish education and Israel.”