A pro-Israel rally in New York City was disrupted on Monday by a loud counter-rally for the Palestinian side of the conflict, with both sides straining to have their voices heard over each other at a particularly raucous event on the steps of City Hall.
The pro-Palestinian contingent encircled the featured event and chanted in unison.
“You do not speak for us!” they shouted.
“The occupation has gotta go!”
The event, which was organized by Jewish City Council members, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and others, featured a wide variety of elected officials from the New York area, many of whom addressed the shouting voices from the counter-rally.
“Support for Israel in the United States Congress is strong and it’s bipartisan. And that’s the way it should be. Because you can have protesters trying to scream and scream us out, but the fact of the matter is, is the representatives in Washington, D.C., … are supportive and pro-Israel because Israel shares our values,” Congressman Eliot Engel (D-New York) said.
Almost all of the speakers at the pro-Israel event emphasized the steps the country has taken to minimize civilian causalities in the latest increase of tensions and military action in the region, which was apparently sparked by the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teens in June. A Palestinian teen was also murdered and Israel is currently being bombarded by rockets.
“We use missiles to protect our people. They use people to protect their missiles,” said the consul general of Israel in New York, Ido Aharoni. “Hamas has made a decision to escalate the situation for the wrong reasons that have nothing to do with events on the ground. … We are looking at yet another bloody chapter in a century-old Palestinian onslaught on Jewish national sovereignty in the land of Israel.”
Aharoni also said he had a question for the pro-Palestinian protesters.
“This event has attracted some people who have a different view — they surround us right now. To them I would ask: What is it that Hamas has offered you and your children?” he inquired.
Those rallying outside said they were unimpressed with the pro-Israel pitch.
“They say that New Yorkers are pro-Israel? Who are they talking to? They don’t represent me. I’m Jewish and I’m a New Yorker and they absolutely do not,” protester Sandy Turner.
Another protester, Daniel Meyers, accused the pro-Israel politicians of “pandering” and drew a comparison between present-day Palestine and the persecution of Jews under Nazi Germany.
“It’s under circumstances that are obscene. I don’t know how they can justify the continuing support of Israel as a knee-jerk reaction when the kind of bombings that are taking place against a captured, occupied civilian population. I mean, it was unheard of 80 years ago. They would not have tolerated Germany exterminating Jews who were in the same kind of circumstances — victims of oppression and aggression and genocide and all the rest of that,” Meyers said.