Monday, July 24, 2006

Pro-Israel Rally in Los Angeles

What a spectacular rally! Though it was considerably smaller than the one I attended at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 15, 2002 (A date I will probably never forget), I would say around 15,000 souls, and it got an excellent crowd completely behind Israel and its policy and its victory. Not only that but we got The Governator™, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Mayor of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciuncula (also known by its informal name, LA) who can slide into third (see Hollywood All Star Game entry), Antonio Villaraigosa, many Rabbis, Ministers, Priests, I think we even got an Imam on the stage.

The counter-protest, by the way, had maybe 30 people. There were more police officers standing in riot-formation in front of them than were counter-protesters (who were a boulevard away from the rally). I present a picture of this as proof from the bus we were taking as we left.

I saw maybe 100 people I knew there. Peeps from camp, school, and the shul abounded. There were maybe two dozen people next to me wearing Camp Ramah in California t-shirts. I didn't recognize most of them, thought they were Madors, and it turns out, as I was talking to some of the mishlachat, that Camp had sent CAMPERS to the rally, Machon and Tzofimers were sent as part of their Etgar program! I took my campers surfing on Etgar. They took these kids to a crowd of 15,000?!

Partisan didn't matter here, Arnold, a Republican and Antonio, a Democrat, both got wild applause from the quintuple-digit crowd. Arnold has tons of charisma and the crowd was completely behind him. He also was dressed in a Ben Gurion (short-sleeve dress shirt, top 2 buttons unbuttoned and slacks) He said that Israel, like any other country, has a right to defend itself against terrorists in any way it sees fit. I don't remember who said it, but one of the speakers said that it's disgusting how if it were any other country, the world would support a country in its fight against terrorists, why not Israel? Ahnold mentioned that his first state trip as governor was to Israel and that he's gone to Israel many times since the '70s and he likes his relationship with the Jewish state. Arnold concluded by saying "Am Yisrael Chai!" Whoa! Mad pops and props for the Terminator. The Mayor, who to me will always be known as the elected official who slid into third at Dodger Stadium (sorry, I'm not stopping with that), will also be known as the mayor who danced with Craig Taubman as he sang "Am Yisrael Chai" (Arnold wasn't playing that game but clapped enthusiastly along). The Ramah kids, with their ruach, fueled those singing flames... We've got ruach, yes we do, we've got ruach, how 'bout you, Alonim? Alonim was mentioned by an Israeli shaliach on the stage and there was utter silence and a little masked hatred among the Ramah peeps. This Ramah-Alonim war will never end, will it? Anyway, the Mayor said "Shalom!", to which a couple thousand people enthusiastically (albeit with the 100 degree humid heat) responded "Shalom!". He spoke of tikkun olam and tzedekah (one of the Machonis was jumping up and down and exclaiming "the mayor just said 'tikkun olam'!!!") Tony V. also talked of the city of Sderot, the town that is perpetually hit by which he added as another sister city of Los Angeles (When I was in Eilat I saw a sign saying that LA was its sister city, but I also thought it was Tel Aviv..., what ev.)

I have come to the conclusion that all of my major elected officials are Pro-Israel
President Bush: Pro-Israel
Governor Schwarzenegger: Pro-Israel (and says he employs Israelis)
Mayor Villaraigosa: Pro-Israel
Senator Feinstein: Pro-Israel (and Jewish)
Senator Boxer: Pro-Israel (and Jewish)
Congressman Sherman: Pro-Israel (and not only Jewish but an active member of my shul)
Congressman Waxman: Pro-Israel (and Jewish)
City-Councilman Weiss: Pro-Israel (and Jewish, also one of the first on the scene when my Synagogue was firebombed Yom Haatzmaut 2002)

I have left inline articles about the event:
Governor, Mayor Attend Pro-Israel Rally

(CBS) LOS ANGELES Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended a pro-Israel rally Sunday in Los Angeles, drawing criticism from Muslim leaders concerned about violence in the Middle East.

Meantime, a Los Angeles-based relief agency announced it is sending medical supplies to help victims of the hostilities in Lebanon and Gaza.

The pro-Israel rally, which drew an estimated 10,000 people to the Jewish Federation on Wilshire Boulevard near the heavily Jewish Fairfax District, was meant to "show this community's support for Israel and to promote peace during this time of conflict," according to a statement from the federation.

Wilshire between Crescent Heights and Robertson boulevards was closed to accommodate the crowd. Helicopters circled overhead while Israeli and U.S. flags flapped in the hot summer air.

Pro-Israel signs were abundant, particularly those of the Tarzana-based Council of Israeli Community that read, "Wherever I am, I am with Israel,"

About a dozen motorcyclists roared north on Crescent Heights at the start of the rally, sporting Israeli flags on their bikes.

One sign read "Free Lebanon," and one person was arrested when a small group of counter-protesters clashed with ralliers.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave back-to-back speeches, both in support of Israel's right to exist and defend itself.

"We are all here to do one thing," said Schwarzenegger, "and that is to support the state of Israel -- every nation has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks."

The governor also said he is praying for peace for the people of Lebanon.

"They have been affected by these terrorists as well," he said.

The governor talked about the many trips he has taken to Israel, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

"I have been to Israel many times," he said. "I started in the '70s as a body-building champion. I went back in the '80s as the Terminator. I went back in the '90s to open my Planet Hollywood restaurant, and Israel was the first country that I visited after I became governor of the great state of California."

The governor ended his speech with his often-used line from the Terminator movies -- "I'll be back."

Villaraigosa greeted the crowd with the Hebrew word for peace, "shalom," and also voiced his support for the Jewish state.

"I know for many of you it may feel like a small thing to come to a rally in West Los Angeles on a hot and balmy Sunday afternoon," he said. "But to the families in Haifa -- who have been terrorized in recent weeks by relentless rocket attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah -- this gathering is no distant gesture."

"We are here to be counted and to demonstrate to the people of Israel that we can be counted on," he said. "We are here to stand up and demonstrate the strength of our solidarity. And we are here today, each and every one of us, to affirm our mutual commitment to peace."

Rabbi Steven Z. Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple expressed gratitude for non-Jews supporting Israel.

"I want to thank members of the non-Jewish clergy and elected officials," he said. "They are here today to stand for us as we stand for Israel. They represent people outside of the Jewish community who care about us."

In addition to the governor and mayor, speakers included other elected, religious and community leaders, but Muslim leaders who met Sunday aimed their criticism at Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa, as well as the Bush administration.

"We take issue with the governor and the mayor taking sides on this issue -- the pro-Israeli side -- without consulting residents of California and Los Angeles," said Salam Al-Marayati of Muslim Public Affairs Council. "The mayor and the governor should not drag us into this foreign conflict."

In addition to rallying, the Jewish Federation is raising funds for Israeli children facing rocket attacks in Israel.

The federation has advanced $100,000 to the United Jewish Communities as part of a national initiative to raise $1 million a week for Israeli children. The funds will help provide emergency kits, counseling, aid to the elderly and disabled and summer camp in safer areas of the country for children, among other needs.

"The people in Haifa, Sderot and other Israeli towns under siege by rocket fire are suffering," said John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

"Their security is threatened, and most are understandably terrified and traumatized," he said. "As a result, the federation will continue to provide emergency support above and beyond our regular and ongoing support of the people of Israel."

To support the national fund-raising effort, the Los Angeles federation has created an "Israel in Crisis Fund." All donations to the fund will be sent to Israel immediately, without any portion going to overhead, according to the federation.

Donations can be made by calling (866) YOUR-FED or from the federation Web site at

Associated Press (AP)
Calif. Pro-Israel rallies draw political heavyweights
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined thousands of Israel supporters in the withering heat Sunday to rally behind Israel's recent attacks in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Loudly condemning the "relentless rocket attacks of Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel," Villaraigosa drew a cheer when he said: "We're here to defend (Israel's) unassailable right to defend itself."

Schwarzenegger also affirmed Israel's right to self-defense and offered prayers for peace in Lebanon.

"I hope they can recover their country and live without violence or strife," he said.

The rally here and another in San Francisco came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice departed for Israel in the first U.S. diplomatic effort on the ground since Israel began bombing Lebanon on July 12.

Police estimated some 2,000 to 3,000 people attended the Los Angeles rally and said no major disturbances were reported.

A group of about 20 held signs that called for an end to "Israeli war crimes in Gaza," but that did not disrupt the rally's block party atmosphere or the crowd's expression of support for recent Israeli military actions.

Dorit Kashman, 54, an Israeli who has lived in the United States for 15 years, carried a sign that read "Hezbollah started the war. Now let them stop it!!!"

"We have been suffering in silence," she said. "Now we are defending ourselves."

Moti Levy, 63, described Iran as "the source of terrorism" and Israel as a "defender of the free world."

"If there is some hesitation by Israel, terrorism will spread," he said.

Southern California Muslim leaders meeting Sunday to discuss the Middle East violence criticized Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa for supporting Israel.

"It's not in the jurisdiction of the city or state to get involved in foreign affairs," said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "Dragging Los Angeles and California into the Middle East conflict is counter productive."

In a separate pro-Israel rally in San Francisco Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told a crowd waving blue-and-white Israeli flags that Hezbollah and Hamas rocket attacks against Israel represented "clear acts of war."

"Israel is not fighting just to protect its citizens," Feinstein said. "It is fighting to secure its borders. It is fighting for its very existence."

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom also appeared briefly at the rally near San Francisco's Ferry Building, waving to the crowd from behind dark sunglasses.


AP staff writer Marcus Wohlsen contributed to this story.

Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Blog
Los Angeles Fire Department Stands By As Over Five Thousand Rally

On Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 12:07 PM, ten Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, eleven LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Hazardous Materials Team, four EMS Battalion Captains, two Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Division Chief Officer Command Team, and other LAFD support personnel operating under the direction of Deputy Chief Roy Kozaki responded to a Unified Command Stand By at the "Support Israel Rally" at 6067 W. Wilshire Bl in Park LaBrea/Fairfax.

The Los Angeles Fire Department, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Police Department spent a significant amount of time pre-planning the various aspects of the event. A Unified Command with LAPD and LAFD command staff were implemented and strategically positioned at the Los Angeles Museum of Art to assist in the overall management of the incident. Under the Command post, Divisions, Branches, and Groups were established to handle various aspects of the incident.

In an effort to provide rapid Paramedic intervention during the event, several Medical Task Force Teams were formed and strategically located throughout the venue. Additionally, the LAFD deployed two Bicycle Paramedic Teams and one "Gator" Team. The "Gator" Team consisted of two Paramedics operating a six-wheeled All Terrain Vehicle. The "Gator" was outfitted with Advanced Life Support tools, a stretcher, and other necessary equipment. The size and configuration of the Bicycle Paramedic Teams, and the "Gator" teams provided paramedics the opportunity to navigate crowds, circumvent traffic, and deliver critical patient care faster.

As the event progressed throughout the late afternoon, the Los Angeles Fire Department assisted numerous individuals with medical needs ranging from heat related emergencies, to minor physical injuries. The exact number of people treated and/or transported is still being tabulated.

Submitted by Brian Ballton, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Jerusalem Post
10,000 gather in LA to support Israel Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 24, 2006

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a crowd of 10,000 at a pro-Israel rally Sunday organized by the Jewish Federation Council of Los Angeles.

Rabbi Marvin Hier opened the rally by saying, "We are here today to stand, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters. Just a year ago, Israel had a dream of a new era of peace and hope for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. But the terrorists turned that dream into a nightmare.

"Israel withdrew unilaterally from Lebanon and Gaza, but the Palestinian response was Hamas and Hizbullah who crossed into Israel, murdered and kidnapped her soldiers, rocketed her cities all because they're objective is a Middle East free of Jews. Something we can assure them, they will never live to see.

"Everyday, the critics of Israel want to rewrite the script," said Hier, "change the focus, insert new catch phrases collateral damage - disproportional response - collective punishment.

"What would the nations of the world do if there were 10,000 rockets in the hands of terrorist organization, threatening their borders? I'll tell you what they would do. They would do exactly what Israel is doing and no one would criticize them for it."

Hier introduced Schwarzenegger as, "a great friend of the Jewish Community, a man who during the intifada, when the tourists were gone and the hotels were empty, and the people were down in spirit made his first foreign trip to the State of Israel as a sign of his friendship and admiration."

To listen to Schwarzenegger's speech, click here

Schwarzenegger told the crowd, "It is great to be here during this difficult time Israel is facing. We are all here to support the State of Israel.

"While we all regret the loss of innocent life, there is no doubt that Israel has the right to take all appropriate steps to keep its people safe.

"I have been to Israel many times," he said. "I started in the '70s as a body-building champion. I went back in the '80s as the Terminator. I went back in the '90s to open my Planet Hollywood restaurant, and Israel was the first country that I visited after I became governor of the great state of California."

"There is nothing Israel wants more than to live in peace. That is why I am happy to be here to be supportive of that here today ...Am Israel Chai...I'll be back," said the governor.

Also at the rally were LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA); Jewish Federation President John Fishel; County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; City Councilman Jack Weiss; Israel's Consul General Ehud Danoch; Federation Board Chair Michael Koss; and numerous Jewish and Christian leaders.

There are probably more, I just don't want to look for them now.
My photographs are forthcoming as soon as I can find my USB cord for my camera

I went to dinner on Pico-Robertson and everywhere was packed, possibly because everyone came out of the woodwork for the rally and then everyone wanted Kosher afterwards. We ended up at Elat Burger.

I also want to commend the Jewish community of Los Angeles. Everyone was supporting one-another today and people donated water and flags (and the money to purchase them) and parking was made availiable for a very nominable fee. The day went off without a hitch. I even found a birthright person who invited me to a Moshav Band concert. Yay, I like the Moshav Band.


JTabes said...

4/15/02? I was so there.

Matt said...

Really, wearing a diaper? Kids... But seriously, yeah, there were maybe a million people there. I think there's a prayer one says when over 600,000 Jews are gathered. "Blessed are you God who knows secrets". I've never really understood it, but maybe the gossip and lashon hara that occurs there is significant enough to pierce heaven. Jacob, did you go with a group and if so which group did you go with and how long did it take to get there and get back (it took us 8-10 hours each way with all the traffic in the mass exodus)

DCRocks said...

Ran across your post on the Pro-Israel rally, and wanted to drop a link to the one I attended in Washington DC on July 19th.

You can see some pics here: