SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – More than 3,000 people demonstrated in support of Israel at rallies in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.
In Melbourne, a piercing siren shattered the silence Sunday as about 2,000 people joined a “Code Red” rally.
Dr. Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, told the crowd, “Israel faces a battle on three fronts — the battlefront in Gaza, the home front and the global front, where the legitimacy of her operations are questioned. It is imperative that the world hears the truth and understands that Israel is acting in self-defense.”
Nina Bassat, president of Melbourne’s Jewish community, added, “We are here today because the State of Israel, so integral to our sense of identity and indeed to our destiny, is suffering.”
Sen. Scott Ryan, representing Prime Minister Tony Abbott, told rally participants that “the Australian government stands with you.”
In Sydney, some 1,000 people converged on Central Synagogue in Bondi to hear Israeli Ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel tell the crowd, “Your support is a source of encouragement, your compassion is a source of comfort and your solidarity is a source of hope.”
Across the city, Julie Nathan, the research officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, witnessed the 5,000-strong pro-Palestinian rally, which she described as a sea of “black flags of jihad, the yellow flags of a banned terrorist organization, Hezbollah, the Islamist chants and placards spewing anti-Semitism.”
She said some were bearing placards including “Israel: using one Holocaust to continue another since 1948″; “One Holocaust doesn’t justify another”; and “Netanyahu: modern day Hitler.”
One woman entered the throng flying an Israeli flag before police escorted her out of harm’s way, according to Nathan.
In Perth, about 500 supporters joined what was billed as a “peace rally,” with one federal and several state parliamentarians in attendance, according to reports.