Sunday, January 11, 2009

Seattle Pro-Israel Rally: A Missed Opportunity

Our family attended Seattle's rally in support of Israel today, and while I was touched by the show of camaraderie, I'm wondering if it was worthwhile.

Certainly we support Israel's right--need!--to defend itself, after it forcibly removed 9,000 Israeli residents from Gaza in 2004, leaving their homes and productive greenhouses to destruction (rather than reuse) by hostile Palestinians, only to receive 6,000 missiles aimed at civilian targets in return.
Certainly we want the media to know that Jews in our community, regardless of affiliation or lack thereof, are united in our commitment to Israel, the land given by God to Jews as set forth in the Torah.
Certainly we want to publicize that action by Israel is not aggression, as portrayed, but a truly restrained and careful response to an enemy who not only uses its own citizens as human shields, who not only targets schools and hospitals, who not only receives arms supplied by Iran via secret tunnels to Egypt--but whose goal is the complete eradication of the State of Israel itself.

That said, the event we attended today, joined by about 1,500 others in the Alhadaff sanctuary of Temple De Hirsch-Sinai in Seattle, was more a feel-good affirmation of solidarity than tangible advancement for our cause. Upon passing the purse-check (umbrellas, on this drizzly day, had to be left at the door), attendees, who filled the auditorium to capacity, sang some Jewish songs, saw a couple of short films documenting the frightening daily lives of those within the 25-mile range of rockets regularly launched from Gaza, and heard a few speeches from local Jewish leaders.

I was bothered by some of the content, which claimed that neither side wanted this warfare, and that it was Hamas, and not the Palestinian people, who are our foe. But in reality, Palestinian children are brainwashed into believing that Israel is evil, and that they should be willing to fight, even kill themselves, to eliminate it. Most of the five speakers mentioned that "we" seek a "two state solution" to the conflict, and I blanched--I do not see that creating a recognized state of Palestine (for the first time ever) will do other than empower and embolden people who don't want to co-exist in peace but, with the fervent impetus of their religion, want Israel to end.

The main thrust of the program was that Israel's attacks are in self-defense, to safeguard cities that are under unceasing missile barage. Perhaps the most effective visual was in one film that illustrated the area subject to attack were Seattle the target--say, from missiles launched from Canada. Would the United States be expected to simply let Seattle explode, several times a day, injuring and killing residents, for three years?

But if the purpose was to educate the public to our position, or to include others in our mission, the rally failed. While the Jewish community was well represented, holding the event inside a synagogue implied that this issue is important to Jews only. We should get out the message that this isn't a Jewish cause; it's a just, human cause. If the rally were held in a public space--as was a highly publicized pro-Palestinian event a week ago--and if churches and human rights groups, as well as the public at large, were invited, this would have far better disseminated that message, and joined us with a far larger group of support. After all, we are Americans supporting Israel; we see Israel as the only Democracy in the mid-east; the only place in that part of the world where everyone, including Muslims, has full representation and rights, and we support Israel for those broader ideals.
My husband pointed out that today, small Israeli flags were distributed, but no American flags. That "HaTikva," the Israeli national anthem, was sung, but not "The Star Spangled Banner." He noted that the pro-Palestinian marchers last week carried only Palestinian flags and not American flags because they, unlike us, are anti-American. We need to remind the world of the similarity in tolerance and freedom between Israel and the United States, a confluence of philosophy and attitude toward progress, the modern world and liberty for all.

This evening, I checked out our local TV coverage of the pro-Israel rally today. Station KOMO gave at least as much time to the handful of pro-Palestinian protesters across the street, and footage of the pro-Palestinian rally last week, to which the newscaster claimed today's event was a reaction. The conclusion of the report wasn't that Israel has considerable support in Seattle, but rather that our town is sharply divided in its allegiance. To see the shouting, picket-waving hordes in the pro-Palestinian march juxtaposed to the seated auditorium of Israel-supporters, interspersed with an interview with a Jewish woman saying how tough it is for her to oppose other Jews and stand out on the sidewalk protesting, probably did more to confuse uneducated viewers than further their understanding of Israel's self-defense.
A frustrating result from an event that could have been significant. But, given the pro-Israel rallies taking place across our nation today, I'm glad Seattle was counted, and I'm glad I was able to join with other Jews to sing "Am Yisroyal Chai," the people, the worldview called Israel, live.


  1. I always wonder about the purpose of such rallies in general, but after seeing some of the news coverage this weekend, I actually realize a bit more the impact of them.

    One point I noticed was the difference in actions between pro-Palestinian rallies and pro-Israel ones. While Israeli ones typically called for Hamas to stop using children as shields, asking for peace, etc., and were generally peaceful, the Palestinian ones called for Jews to "go to the ovens", for a Palestine from "river to sea", etc. The vitriol in such displays helps moderates line up on the side of Israel. Moreover, the desperate need of media outlets to consistently show "both" sides of rallies actually mocks their own coverage, as any reasonable viewer sees the thousands demonstrating peacefully at one split with the handful to a couple hundred angrily shouting at the other. While certainly the larger rally is far more of a story than a few nuts, showing the nuts just as much actually hurts their cause more than it helps them.

  2. “Israel, the land given by God to Jews as set forth in the Torah.” That’s crazy. You actually believe that? Did that same god give you the right to move people out of the way and take their stuff? If god gave me the right to steal your car would that be okay?

    “Action by Israel is not aggression.” Yes, it is. Especially when you put that god-given right into it.

    Referring to the Plaestinians you say, “…people who don't want to co-exist in peace but, with the fervent impetus of their religion, want Israel to end.” As opposed to you who, with the fervent impetus of your religion, want to take their land.

    “Would the United States be expected to simply let Seattle explode, several times a day, injuring and killing residents, for three years?” That’s a popular metaphor these days but it’s misleading. To flush it out you have to include the part where Seattle has been blockading all of Canada’s borders so the people up there can’t get food or medical supplies, etc. Also Seattle would have had to be ignoring all those UN resolutions for the last 40 years. That would be more realistic. If you are interested realism, that is.

    “…pro-Palestinian marchers last week carried only Palestinian flags and not American flags because they, unlike us, are anti-American.” You made that up.

    Ezzie says, “the Palestinian ones [rallies] called for Jews to "go to the ovens.” The “oven” comment is from one jerk in one rally in, I believe, Florida. The Fave Host played it to death last week. I have never seen anything like that in Seattle, and neither have you.

  3. Hi Bright Light: I just stumbled on and absolutely love your blog. Great photos, great commentary. I too was at the rally at Temple De-Hirsch yesterday and was equally dissapointed at the lack of US flags and the National Anthem being sung. I fear if not for baseball games, much of the left would not even know the words.

    In any case I took a photo of the small group of counter-protesters assembled across the street and captured a picture of what must be the dumbest protest sign ever, it read "Who would Moses bomb?"

    Here is a link to the photo.

  4. Searching for Bright Light,

    Care to chat offline? Rob Jacobs, regional director, StandWithUs.
    RobJacobs (at) StandWithUs (dot) com

  5. Jim - It was a line which was repeated at many rallies across the country, as shown by the news here in NYC and in numerous clips I've seen online from other rallies. I've never been to Seattle, so I can't tell you about Seattle in specific, but to imply that it was an isolated event is simply untrue.

    Your characterization of the blockade as the reason for Hamas' terror attacks is simply false and misguided. I suggest learning far more about the Middle East, Hamas in specific, and the history of Gaza. It's difficult to say Israel wishes to "take" their land when they did a complete withdrawal from it in 2005, uprooting many thousands of Jews in the process.

  6. Thanks, Ezzie, for responding to Jim.
    Aarrgh, Jim, where to start...

    There has NEVER been a state/country called Palestine before, (under the British, Palestine included Jordan) and the people are Arab; but not specifically "Palestinian" any more than the Jews who have always lived in that region. Immigration by the people now called "Palestinians" occurred as a result of and simultaneous to the influx of Jews in the early part of the 20th Century.

    I can't give a history lesson here; let me just recommend a book by Mitchell G. Bard called "Myths and Facts: A guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict."

    Palestinians have been receiving billions of dollars in aid, without interruption, from the UN. The US gave $50 million in 2007. Israel still allows fuel and other essentials to freely enter, and sends medicine and food from its own supplies.

    As for the Torah, yes, that's the basis of the Jewish religion, but Jews don't try to make Christians or Muslims living in Israel change their faith--Muslims want the world to live under sharia law, and to make it so, Hamas/terrorists don't mind killing their own innocents as well as any other non-combatant citizens. Hamas' control central is in the basement of a hospital.

    The only thing Israel wants is to be left alone and not subject to constant rocket attack. Jews didn't "take Palestinian land" and emphatically not because of religion. Don't know where you got that; history shows otherwise. Israel has kept relinquishing "land for peace," but instead, it just gives away closer launching pads for Hamas rockets.

    Findalay: Thanks for the compliments; I'll check out your photo.
    Rob: this stuff just drives me crazy.

  7. For over 600 years the peoples who lived in the Palestine area did so in relative peace. In 1898 over 90% of them were Arabs. Also in 1898 the Zionist Jews took aim to return a modern Israel where the biblical Israel once existed. By 1950 Modern Israel had coercively supplanted the Arabs who had lived on their lands for centuries. Those Arabs, known as Palestinians, did not voluntarily sell, give away or leave their lands.

    The UN did not ever intend for these Arab peoples to be entirely scoured from their lands. They have asked Israel on many occasions to return lands taken from these people and Israel refuses. In fact Israel does only what it feels benefits Israel and damns all other ideas or considerations.

    Today Israel keeps these people in conditions that no Israeli would personally tolerate. The Israelis elect a government which fights for their freedom with all its power and they feel it is good and justified. The Palestinians do the same and they are terrorists.

    No religious tenets support the actions demonstrated by Israel towards these people. Israel has devolved into an ethnic cleansing behavior similar to that of pre WW2 Germany. Todays Israel will gladly lead the world into WW3 for the sake of their selfish goals. I am personally embarrassed and ashamed for any Jew who backs an implacable and demonic Israel.