April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Pro-Israel Gatherings Send Support and Chizuk

On May 12, over 1,700 devices logged on to a virtual rally, “NY Stands With Israel: Solidarity Gathering.” The event was hosted by UJA-Federation, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the Israeli Consulate in New York.

Amy Pressman, president of UJA-Federation, opened the event. “There are constant reports of sirens, sadly, throughout the country from Ashkelon to Jerusalem, and the death, and injury counts are rising,” he said. “There is never any justification for sending hundreds of rockets into civilian neighborhoods, ever.”

Michael Miller, executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, added: “Many of our viewers have family and friends in Israel. Our two daughters live there, with their husbands, our nine grandchildren, and dozens of other relatives. Think about sirens in the middle of the night, waking Israelis, gathering their children or elderly parents and racing to the safe room, with only 20 seconds to get there. I’ll be flying to Israel for Shavuot. Not all of us can get on a plane, but we’re gathering here on this virtual platform to let Israelis know they’re our sisters and brothers, our family. We are one people. We will always be there for them.”

Israel’s Acting Consul General Israel Nitzan was the next speaker. “No other country would tolerate such extreme terrorism and aggression against its sovereignty and citizens,” he said. “Israel has the right as well as the obligation to defend its citizens. We will do whatever we can to avoid harming innocent civilians, while Hamas and its affiliates clearly don’t care about human lives.

“Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization responsible for death and injury of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Hamas’ founding charter is an antisemitic document endorsing murder of Jews solely based on religion. Hamas is a designated terrorist organization by many countries,” he added. “Hamas chose to escalate the situation by shooting rockets at Jerusalem, our capital, which is only the third holiest base for Islam. Think about the hypocrisy: Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and holy sites were targeted by Hamas.

“We call on the international community to unequivocally condemn rockets and terrorist activities against Israeli civilians, recognize its right to protect its citizens and defend itself, and we call on the international community to address the incitement to violence.”

UJA CEO Eric Goldstein introduced Bronx freshman Congressman Richard Torres, (NY-14). Torres began: “Israel is under siege, not only from the relentless rocket fire of Hamas, but also from the endless propaganda war that has taken on a new intensity, especially here in the United States. I’m here to affirm, as a member of Congress who intends to be here for a long time, we must have unwavering commitment to both the sovereignty and security of Israel as a Jewish state. With sovereignty and security comes the inherent right of self-defense, a right that every state including our own takes for granted. Why should Israel be an exception to the rule?

“Washington will be held to a deadly double standard,” Torres continued. “In a moment of terror, it is unreasonable to expect a nation, targeted by hundreds of rockets, to forfeit the right to defend itself, amid a constant stream of terror. No right-minded person would impose that kind of self-destructive burden on any other country that is under siege. Israel was under siege as the circulating social media is a vicious lie, deceptively reframes the terrorism of Hamas as self-defense and self-defense by Israel as terrorism.

“I remain as determined as ever to speak out. And if I can speak out, then anyone can and everyone must. We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced by an overbearing Twitter mob dominated by the extremes of American politics. If we, in elected office, are not willing to say and do what is right, then we are unworthy of the offices we hold,” Torres concluded.

Former Congressman Eliot Engel’s successor as House Foreign Relations chairman, Congressman Gregory Meeks, said: “Let me acknowledge the fear and suffering of the people of Israel right now. I had a text from Rabbi Cogan, a rabbi from my district, about how his family has been in a shelter for days, because of rockets that continue to be sent by Hamas. They’re also committing war crimes by trying to hide behind civilians.”

Meeks added, “I want to praise Israel, as I understand, having sent drones over those buildings known to be controlled by Hamas. Only after individuals are out of the buildings have bombs been dropped.”

Goldstein, who was also departing to Israel for Shavuot and to visit his daughter studying there, later informed UJA’s community via email that his flight was diverted to Eilat’s Ramon Airport due to rocket fire.

By Judy Berger

 

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