Working my arse off since the Gaza war began a little more than 2 weeks ago, I have been confronted by many people concerning the abundance, or lack of (depending who you ask), Israel Solidarity Rallies. The organization I work for, StandWithUs (www.standwithus.org), has been on the front lines in organizing or assisting the organizers of these rallies around the world.
But for what purpose?
Many people have approached me and said, “Dani, what’s the point? What does this accomplish?” I often feel this way as at the rally itself we often see loud, sometimes obnoxiously loud, vocal rally-goers or protesters. Sometimes we have a screaming match between the opposing sides… and sometimes, when all marketing has failed, no one shows up.
And so, even though I often find myself at numerous rallies in support of Israel, I also find them awkward. Is this the best thing I can do with my time?
After much inner searching and analysis, I’ve come to my conclusion:
YES. We need these Israel Solidarity rallies.
- Today, we live in a world where Jews are so disconnected from Israel. When Israel is in a war for its survival, like it always is, few outside of Israel make noise about it. Namely, it is the same few loud mouths, i.e. myself and the other activists that push out 90% of the information. However, with the rise of the Internet, we are seeing more non-activist types getting in on the action. These rallies give our community a public channel to show our support for Israel. Furthermore, they show the rest of our ignorant community that many of us, in the thousands, choose to spend an hour or two on the street, publicly supporting Israel. This is a morale booster at the bare minimum.
- The Media. Believe it or not, Israel rallies are a great way to get positive press for Israel, as well as negative press for Hamas, all at the same time. It gives us an opportunity to make some noise, and for people to actually hear it. (We must assume that the rally organizers are providing proper signs, posters, and slogans, to effectively support Israel. People alone won’t do the trick. For effective signs see http://standwithus.org/signs.) At the rally itself, you may not get the feeling that you are making a difference, but you are. Wait a few hours, go home, and watch the local news. Go online. Coverage of your rally to support Israel has just affected thousands or millions at home watching. Maybe we taught some people about Hamas rockets, the plight of Sderot, or the (gasp) worldwide war on terror.
- How awful does it look when anti-Israel forces show up in droves to denounce Israel? They chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!” I don’t mind that they chant this publicly. It shows their true intentions – i.e. to wipe Israel off the map, to have the land Judenrein “Free of Jews”. Their racist chants to “Kill all Jews” (or “Kill all Juice” from the real ignorant racists), are frightening but also an eye opener to us Jews, and lovers of Israel. If we do not stand up for Israel publicly, who will? If we do not show these haters of freedom and democracy that we are not scared of their threats of violence, we will collectively succumb to terrorism, or even the threat of terrorism. It is because of these anti-Israel / anti-Democracy / anti-American/Canadian/British/Australian rally goers that we MUST stand up, across the street, and show our support.
We must get up there and wave our flags, chant down terrorism and Hamas, and show the free world that people still care.
These past few days and weeks we’ve seen some amazing rallies in support of Israel all over the world. Unfortunately, we are outnumbered by our Arab bretheren who have filled the streets in our urban areas. We must not let this get us down or let it pressure Israel. We must show Israel that we still care. If we show the world we are united, we will prevail.
To find out where the local rallies are, please visit www.standwithus.org. If you have organized a rally and it is not listed there, please let us know.