Thousands in Paris rally in support of Israel


(JTA) — Chanting "Israel will live on, Israel will win," thousands gathered at the Israel Embassy in Paris for a pro-Israel demonstration.

The pro-Israel demonstration was one of the largest held in Europe since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas on Nov. 14.

CRIF, the umbrella group for French Jewry and the rally organizer, estimated the crowd at 5,000 to 7,000, according to the French daily L’express, but French police said 3,000 were present.

The crowd "waved a multitude of Israeli flags and chanted slogans accusing Hamas of murder and ‘Israel will live on, Israel will win’ as well as songs in Hebrew,"  L’express reported.

In a statement, CRIF said the crowd was conveying the message that no analogy can be made “between the State of Israel, which attempts to spare civilians through accurate strikes, and Hamas, which puts civilians on the front lines.”

Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim at the rally spoke of his "deep and total solidarity with the State of Israel in these painful and trying times."

CRIF President Richard Prasquier thanked a group of young French Jews who canceled their support rally scheduled for Thursday that they had organized on Facebook. He said it helped keep a “united line” and prevented splitting up those who wanted to show support for Israel during its operation against Hamas.

Also Tuesday, in the Netherlands, Amichai Magen of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya spoke at the Liberal Synagogue on the ballistic threats facing Israel to increase awareness of the reasons for Israel’s strikes in Gaza. A crowd of more than 200 Jews and non-Jews attended the lecture organized by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a pro-Israel NGO.

Also, 500 people attended a concert by the Israel Defense Forces orchestra in The Hague that was organized by Christians for Israel. Many came wearing Israeli flags.

A pro-Israel rally on Tuesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, drew approximately 600 participants, according to CONIB, the umbrella organization representing Brazil’s Jewish communities.

Meanwhile, the South African minister of international relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on Tuesday condemned Israel for ‘’the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli government, which has resulted in a significant number of deaths and injuries on both sides, particularly among Palestinian civilians, including children."

Mashabana, at a news conference at the Parliament in Cape Town, said the Israeli decision to call up 75,000 reservists is an ‘’ominous development,’’ and implored the Israeli government not to embark on a large-scale ground assault, which she qualified as a ‘’fatal step … which will not only result in the inevitable loss of a large number of both Palestinian and Israelis lives — but also further inflame sentiments in an already volatile region."

Mashabana called on both sides to stop the violence and to negotiate.

It was the first official reaction of the South African government to the Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense. Over the weekend the main South African workers union, Cosatu, published a statement condemning Israel, and calling on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador from the country.


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