Over 10,000 turn out for South African Rally to Support Israel
Posted by Melanie Nathan, Aug 05, 104.
Johannesburg – Aug 04- 2014. On Sunday, more than 12,000 South Africans, representing a broad spectrum of society, came together to stand united in solidarity with Israel, while condemning the use of terror by Hamas against the citizens of Israel.
Political and civil society leaders, leaders and members of Jewish organizations and Church groups, together representing many millions of South Africans, attended the peaceful rally organized by the South African Zionist Federation at Huddle Park.
The number of attendees was unprecedented, and all who were there stood in unison for Israel’s need and right to protect itself and citizens from Hamas’s incessant and indiscriminate firing of thousands of missiles at the civilian population of Israel, while using the Palestinian civilian population as a “launching pad” for these attacks.
Every speaker, whether representing the Jewish or Christian communities, spoke with unbridled passion of Israel, Israel’s determination to rid the world of this terror group, Israel’s sorrow at the loss of innocent lives under the banner of Hamas’s inflexible policy of preventing Palestinians from leaving their homes after being warned by the IDF to evacuate them, and the tireless efforts Israel made to inflict as little collateral damage as possible while carrying out her mission.
“Israel has a moral and legal obligation to defend herself and her citizens against any attacks from Hamas,” said Luba Mayekiso, Chairman of the South African chapter of the ICEJ (The international Christian Embassy in Jerusalem). “The existence of Israel within safe and secure borders should not be viewed as a privilege, but as a right,” he said.
Olga Meshoe of the Pro- Israeli lobby group DEISI continued that the loss of human life seen in this conflict, both Israeli and Palestinian, was a tragedy. “South Africans attending the rally were united on many fronts, one of these being the sadness associated with the tragic and deplorable loss of civilian life witnessed in this, and other Middle Eastern conflicts,” she said.
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein called for calm, tolerance, and love amid a growing tide of anti-Semitism, incitement, and racism in South Africa. He called on South Africans to stand as an example to the world on tolerance, love, and peaceful resolution to long-standing conflict and tension.
The crowd was united in its love of and support for Israel, and everyone there, from babes in arms to senior citizens, was welcomed with open arms by the organisers. There were thousands of Israeli flags; thousands of posters decrying the harm that Hamas did and celebrating Israel’s demands for peace; beautiful white doves of peace released at one stage; and hundreds of blue and white balloons sent into the atmosphere during the fervent singing of the South Africa and Israeli national anthems.
Emotions ran high while speakers exhorted the crowd to pray for peace in the region. This was a call-for-peace-in-the-Middle-East rally which eschewed violence, instead recognising Israel’s right of self-defence.
Chairperson of the SAZF, Avrom Krengel, told the Mail & Guardian that South Africans and South African Jews were “extremely concerned” about what had occurred in Gaza. He expressed his organization’s full support for Israel, but said he regretted the death of civilians.
Krengel also praised the South African government and encouraged it to continue trying to assist in finding a solution to the conflict. “There needs to be a lasting solution. At the end of the day a two-state solution is the only solution. Everyone who wants peace must just keep trying,” he said.
Palestinian officials say 1 775 people, most of them civilians, had been killed in Gaza. Israel had confirmed that 67 soldiers had died in combat, while Palestinian shelling had also killed three civilians in Israel.
Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, told the masses at the rally that the Palestinians were “our neighboors, not our enemy”. He added that when the conflict ended, Israel should help to rebuild and demilitarise Gaza.
From across the spectrum – religious, secular and progressive Jews, Jewish cantors and shul choirs, families with tiny babies, young children, waving flags and cheering, representatives of COPE and the IDF, of the Impact for Christ Ministries and of DEISI, of the Shembe Church and the ICEJ South Africa, representatives of Afrikaans and English communities from around the province, as well as political and religious leaders, ambassadors and media persona – they came in their thousands.
There could be no better way for South Africa to show its support for Israel than was displayed at yesterday’s Rally.