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What Happened at the Pro Israel Rally Today

Well, here’s what happened today at the dag hammarskjold Plaza in front of the UN:

I went to the UJA Federation organized rally today in NYC in front of the UN – to stand with Israel – with my own printed signs.
I went with my friend Nigel Savage of Hazon, Rabbi David Ingber of Romemu,  Sandi DuBowski, Molly Yavetz, Rabbi David David L Kline, and a few other Storahtelling LabShul friends.

The signs I made called for standing with Israel, while mourning with Gaza. They asked for no more dead – in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Some people were appreciative and grateful for the nuanced message, but others  – the majority – were not. People spat at me, pushed and shoved and glared, wished me to go die in Gaza and Germany. They called my a disgrace, a shame, a shonda. To the few I bothered answering I spoke in Hebrew, saying I was a proud Israeli standing up for truth and love. It didn’t matter. To the older woman who kept following me with her own ” Stand with Israel” sign to block my own sign and yelling out loud – look at the traitor – he’s a mamzer – a bastard – I turned and said, calmly – my father is a Holocaust Survivor, please respect him if not me. To which she replied – he should have died there. to prevent your being born.

Why is there Arabic on you sign?? Someone asked/ accused me. It says Salaam  – Peace, I answered – to which the reply came – you are one of them! 

Rabbi David Kline’s sign proclaimed ‘ NO MORE DEAD’ in English, Hebrew, Arabic – it was torn in two. 

There were other obscene and racist statements that I won’t describe. There was so much hatred amid the flags and so called unity. 

The speakers that I was able to hear were able to bring nuance, somewhat to the masses. When a congressman lamented the loss of innocents the crows went still. When she called for the demise of Hamas – they went wild with cheers. 

I was only scared for a couple of moments when finding myself alone in the hostile crowd, too tired to answer, too sad and mad to walk away. Most of the time we stood together, and it was good to stand with friends. 

I am glad I went. I stand with Israel’s right to defend itself and survive. I am a proud Israeli Jew. I stand with Palestine’s right to exist and be free, I mourn with the families of the dead on both sides. I refuse to be either/or and avoid true compassion and care. I am sad for those of my people, here and in Israel who have been so infected by fear to be unable to handle both pride and compassion. I worry about what’s next – not with Hamas – but within our own ranks. 

We have a moral obligation as Jews to expand our circle of care and compassion even as we fight for the right to exist. I wish more of our leaders would be there with this message. But for now, I am proud of having been there with some of the bravest rabbis, leaders and good friends that are helping walk the talk towards more peace and progress. May this new moon bring with it better news, for all.