Pro-Israel performers at a weekend rally at the Federal Building sang about their love of the Jewish homeland, and a DJ spinning dance music prompted some 200 attendees to boogie while waving Israeli flags, both large and small.
“It was good to see young Jewish people standing tall,” said Ted Hayes, an Israel supporter and advocate for the homeless, following the Nov. 8 event dubbed “Stand With Israel.”
Wearing a Star of David necklace and red-white-and-blue sunglasses, Hayes was among the speakers at the Westwood rally that lasted from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Some participants congregating on the southwest corner of the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue carried signs that declared support for Israel and its right to defend itself against the Palestinians; others denounced Hamas and the Iran nuclear deal.
“Israel deserves security,” one sign read. “The world can’t afford a nuclear Iran,” said another.
The event took place one day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama met and discussed, among other things, renewed tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
A stage set up on the sidewalk featured an array of speakers, including Hayes; Rabbi Menachem Weiss, director of the Israel Center at Milken Community Schools and an associate rabbi at Nessah Synagogue; Bruins for Israel President Omer Hit; and Adam King, a former Republican congressional candidate.
Singer-songwriter Gilat Rapaport was among the performers, and Hatzolah of Los Angeles and L.A. Shmira Patrol were on the scene. Demonstrators lining the edge of the sidewalk prompted California Highway Patrol to close down one lane of Wilshire in front of the Federal Building, between Sepulveda Boulevard and Veteran, until 4:30 p.m. An after-party in Pico-Robertson followed the rally.
Event organizer – and Miss International Israel 2012 – Yael Markovich said she was delighted with the demonstration of support.
“I’m Israeli, and I love my country, and I think it is our duty to do this,” she told the Journal following the event. “The rally itself is to make sure more awareness is raised. I wanted to expose liberal media [too]. [And] there was no counter-protest – that was good.”
The event spotlighted the names of Israelis who have died in the latest wave of violence. Late in the day, Leore Ben-David, West Coast campus coordinator of the Zionist Organization of America, read the names of the dozen Israelis who have died, addressing a crowd that held up candles as she spoke.
“I think the energy was really high today and even though the turnout wasn’t as high as anticipated, we are one big Zionist family,” Ben-David said following the vigil.
The Federal Building in Westwood is a popular locale for such demonstrations and was the site of a large rally opposing the Iran deal this past July. Last summer, as Israel fought a war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the site accommodated rallies that were both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian.
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, who rode his bike from Pico-Robertson to the Sunday event with two of his sons, said it communicated an important message to the world.
“It’s important to bring Jews together to support one another, and I encourage any kind of event or effort to unite Jews in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel,” he said, wearing a T-shirt that sported the name of his synagogue, Pico Shul.
“Pico Shul prays every week for Israel, and today we had a special minyan at the shul, where we also included prayers for Israel this morning at our Sunday morning men’s group, Bagels, Bros and Brachas,” Bookstein said.
Mendel Cornfield, 24, a self-described surfer, busied himself wrapping tefillin on willing attendees at a table beside the stage. He said he plans to make aliyah and called Israel “the homeland of every single Jew, whether or not you’ve been there.”
Haifa-native Markovich said she planned to follow up the rally by creating a petition on change.org about the Iran deal and “everything that is happening [with Israel].”
“Hopefully, we don’t have to do another one next year,” she said of the rally.
This article was published by Jewish Journal and may be found here.