By Rachel Gross Weinstein
A sea of blue and white filled Dallas City Hall Plaza last week at an Israel solidarity rally. Jews, Christians and Muslims showed their support for the Jewish homeland.
Estimates of more than 2,000 people from Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding areas attended the rally that took place Wednesday, July 30. It was organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas in conjunction with the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Texas Governor Rick Perry and Maya Kadosh, deputy consul general of Israel to the Southwest, which is based in Houston, were among the featured speakers. Rabbi William Gershon of Congregation Shearith Israel, Rabbi Debra Robbins of Temple Emanu-El, Community Chaplain Rabbi Howard Wolk, pastors and Jewish community leaders also shared important words.
Perry spoke about his many visits to the region and the importance of Israel defending itself. He believes the people of Israel should be able to live in peace and that the support of America is more vital than ever before.
“Today we’re are all united by the simple belief that the people of Israel have the right to live in peace,” he said. “America must be clear: Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state. There can be no negotiation; America cannot negotiate a middle ground when one party seeks a whole ground destruction of the other. America cannot be ambivalent when it comes to the terrorist acts of Hamas and the security of Israel. Israel’s existence is a visible reminder of hope. Hope that the world can be made right again after so much wrong, hope that the deepest wounds can be healed, hope that the cause of good shall triumph over evil.”
Throughout the rally, supporters raised posters and waved Israeli flags, making it known to the world that Dallas/Fort Worth stands with Israel. Cantor Leslie Niren of Temple Emanu-El led everyone in the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Hatikvah,” and joyous renditions of “Am Yisrael Chai” and “Oseh Shalom.”
Kadosh noted that July 30 marked 23 days since Hamas launched its attack against Israel. In that time, more than 2,500 rockets have been launched into Israel, many of which have been taken down by the Iron Dome defense system.
These rockets are being aimed at communities, Kadosh said. Schools have been destroyed, innocent people and soldiers have died and others have been injured. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in response to fight evil and protect themselves.
“Evil has no moral compass, it sees no right or wrong,” Kadosh said. “We are fortunate in that we do not fight this evil alone. The world stands with Israel and understands very well that this is a time for people who side with freedom and democracy to say ‘enough is enough.’ Leaders from all over the world, including President Obama, the Prime Ministers of Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and France, stand with Israel. They realize what the people of Israel know all too well: this is the time to stand by what is right.”
The call for Americans to take action was clearly stated during the rally. Dallasite Lillian Pinkus, who serves on the national board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), urged everyone to call their members of Congress to thank them for their support of Israel. She read statements from Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who reaffirmed their support.
In addition, Gershon told everyone to donate to the Federation’s emergency campaign for Israel, share thoughts on social media and to speak out by talking to friends, colleagues and neighbors about the need to support Israel.
“We come here today to declare to our enemies that we will not cower, we will not crouch, we will not hide, we will not give in to terror,” he said. “Israel is here to stay and not going anywhere. We will protect our children, we will defend our land and people and we defend it with the highest moral standards. Commanders and soldiers are counting on us, the children of Ashkelon, Sderot and Beersheba are counting on us, the entire people of the State of Israel are depending on us, history is depending on us. The time is now, the day is short. ‘Am Yisrael Chai,’ the people of Israel live.”
The number of non-Jews in attendance made the rally even more meaningful. Pastor Ralph Holland, founder of My International Network, an international network of ministries based in Coppell, and Terri Copeland Pearsons of Eagle Mountain Church in Fort Worth, both expressed that they unconditionally stand with Israel.
Pearsons and her husband, George, are city leaders for Christians United for Israel. She discussed how people around the world question whether Israel has the right to defend itself, but that the answer should be very simple.
“Does any nation have the right to defend itself? Yes it does. It’s not just any land or people, it’s Israel,” she said. “When Israel defends itself, it also defends the roots of Christianity. The foundations of liberty are found in this bible. When Israel defends itself, Israel defends America. Thank you Israel for standing for America, for standing for faith, for standing against those who want to destroy all we have and all we are. Stand strong, don’t bother about the voices telling you what to do. Stand Israel and we will support you.”
Those in attendance were inspired by the remarks and solidarity exhibited. Marilyn Wohlstadter’s daughter is currently participating in a program in Israel and the afternoon was touching for her.
“This so incredible,” she said. “My daughter would be so happy right now. It is unbelievable to see the support of the Jewish and Christian community. It’s so wonderful to see all of these people and know that we are not alone.”
“It didn’t matter if you were Orthodox or Reform, everyone coming together for one cause is amazing,” attendee Ava Gottlieb said. “Israel is our homeland; the rally was great and we needed to do this.”
Federation Board Chair Cindy Sweet Moskowitz added that on a recent trip to Israel, she saw the Iron Dome in action. Seeing something like that firsthand, she said, is mind blowing and nobody should live like that.
“I believe the Israeli government is making the best decisions it can for the people of Israel and I hope and pray one day the Palestinian people will have leadership who care more about the lives of their children than the destruction of the State of Israel,” Moskowitz said. “I just returned from Israel two weeks ago and I can tell you to live under the constant threat of fire is untenable. I can tell you our brothers and sisters know that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”