President Richard M. Joel Addresses Thousands at Community-Wide Rally in Support of Israel
More than 10,000 people gathered to show their support for Israel and its right to self-defense at a rally Monday afternoon, July 28, in Manhattan at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza outside the United Nations. The rally attracted throngs of passionate Israel supporters of all ages and backgrounds from across the region, including hundreds of children who traveled several hours by bus from their summer camps in Pennsylvania and upstate New York to be there.
Amid a sea of blue and white, participants waved Israeli and American flags and brandished signs proclaiming solidarity with Israel and condemning Hamas as a terrorist organization. Several dignitaries, politicians and religious leaders addressed the crowd, including Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel.
He recounted his trip to Israel three weeks ago, where he traveled to Kiryat Malachi with his wife and grandson to visit camps for underprivileged youth that YU undergraduates were running as part of the Center for the Jewish Future’s Counterpoint Israel program.
“The sounds of young people growing and learning and laughing were replaced later that day when rockets fell nearby and our camps had to close for several days,” said President Joel. “We long for our children to hear the sounds of harmony and not the sounds of sirens. We long to write with people of the world a symphonic call to peace and wholeness. But as long as there are those committed to the noise of hatred and seeking the silence of the Jewish people in their homeland, then our voices will be raised in a chorus of solidarity and unity. We raise our voices, to God and humanity, to allow our children their song. But let us not stop praying for shira chadasha, a new song, based on our timeless values, our dreams and the strength of the righteous. We must be strong so that we can continue to be a light unto the nations.”
Other speakers included New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Steve Israel, Congressman Eliot Engel and Ambassador Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York.
Schumer expressed his support for the Israeli government’s stance regarding a ceasefire. “We cannot have any ceasefire until Israel destroys Hamas’ weapons and tunnels,” he said.
Engel denounced the media for its coverage of recent events. “You know the media has not exactly been fair to Israel and it’s time that we stand up and say we are not going to accept this biased, one-side coverage,” he said.
Among the rally participants were hundreds of YU students and alumni.
“It was great to stand here with all these people and show my support for something I believe in,” said Asher Lindenbaum, ’13YC, ’14A. “YU was a place that really allowed me to develop my passion for Israel and helped me connect with like-minded Israel supporters on campus.”
The rally also featured recitation of Tehillim [psalms] and a performance by the Maccabeats a cappella group, whose rousing renditions of “Acheinu” and “Od Avinu Chai – Am Yisrael Chai” energized the crowd.
The event was organized by the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and co-sponsored by the Orthodox Union, National Council of Young Israel, New York Board of Rabbis, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.