NEW YORK (JTA) — Thousands of people gathered outside the Israeli Consulate in New York for a rally in support of Israel.
The rally – attended by more than 8,000 supporters, according to police estimates – was co-sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York in cooperation with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and several other groups.
Politicians and Jewish communal leaders turned out to show their solidarity with Israel in the face of the conflict in Gaza.
New York Governor David Paterson emphasized the importance of standing with Israel because of the anti-Semitism that has followed on the heels of Operation Cast Lead, using as an example the Jan. 5 beating of a teen-age girl in France. "This kind of anger and hatred spreads like a disease, and one thing I’ve always pointed out is there’s no place for hate in the Empire State," Paterson said.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Israel was defending itself in the most humane way possible and, he added, "We say to the Palestinian people in Gaza ‘Israel is not your enemy, Hamas is.’" U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) also took to the podium to offer strong support of Israel.
New York state Assemblyman Rory Lancman, a Democrat from Queens who attended the rally with his son Jonathan, told JTA that "it’s very important for me that he’s here to see that Jews, as public-minded people, have an obligation to come out and speak our mind and make our voices heard" and "not just sit at home and yell at the TV."
About 40 people, mostly Jews and some Muslims, participated in a counter-demonstration across from the Israel solidarity rally, calling for an immediate ceasefire and condemning both Israel and Hamas’ killing of civilians.