Sunday, January 11, 2009

Seattle's Jan. 11 rally in support of Israel

Over 1600 people from the greater Seattle area came together in support of Israel on Sunday afternoon, January 11.

Some early, displaying signs outside:

While waiting for the program to begin, attendees signed letters to the 2 Washington senators encouraging their countinued support for the State of Israel. Younger children colored pictures that will be sent to elementary schools in our partnerhsip and sister communities in Israel that are under missile attack, while others signed notes of support that too will be sent to the same communities in Israel.

As the crowds entered the sanctuary, Asher Hashash lead the audience in many Israeli songs including Lo Yisa Goy, which participants waved athousand of Israeli flags to the music.

Attendees filled Temple de Hirsch Sinai to capacity, with several hundred people standing around the edges of the sanctuary and others in the hallway, unable to get any closer.

Since the US Congress had just begun its session, members of Congress were not able to attend, but Washington States Senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray jointly wrote a letter which was read aloud, strongly supporting Israel's right to defend itself. Other Congressmen also wrote notes, and the mayor of Seattle sent a strong letter of support to the mayor of Beersheva, Seattle's sister city.
An Israeli army reservist lead the prayer for the State of Israel. Several videos were shown including AISH's "15 Seconds" and one with representatives from our partnership communities of Hof Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi speaking of the situation there. The Israeli Deputy Consul General for Israel, Ismail Khaldi, spoke as an official representative of the government. He told how he how been the Israeli government spokesperson to the Arab media on the pull out from Gaza in 2005 and had high hopes for calm to return to the area, hopes that were dashed by the continued and increased shelling of Israeli communities around Gaza. He aos said: "Let me be clear. Israel isn't fighting the Palestinian people... Our enemy is Hamas."

Nevet Basker, the Seattle chair of Stand With Us, spoke as a member of the Seattle Jewish community.

Speakers expressed sadness for the civilians killed in Gaza and the way that Hamas homes, schools,and mosques for weapan storage, thus putting civilians more in danger.

Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, the religious leader of Seattle's Sephardic Bikur Holim, lead a group of 14 local rabbis, as all present stood and sang Hatikvah.

Thanks to Shira P (age 11) and Zach C for the photographs. Group waving photos is from the Seattle PI.

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