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Thousands Turn out to Support Israel at Solidarity Rally

Elected officials, religious leaders, community activists and celebrities, including world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and former NBA player Glen “Big Baby”  Davis were among attendees of the rally.
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October 18, 2023
The demonstrators gathered to hear from speakers outside the Museum of Tolerance.

Wearing a shirt decorated with a hamsa and carrying a sign that depicted a weeping figure holding a baby, Maya Sherer said her dual identity, as both an American and an Israeli, compelled her to turn out to a recent Israeli solidarity rally.

“I’m Israeli, I’m American. My identity has been very tested, while overseas my family’s over there, and I need to walk for solidarity and to help my people,” she said.

At a moment widely considered to be among the most challenging in Israel’s 75-year history, Sherer was among an estimated 7,500 people who gathered to express love and support for Israel during a solidarity rally held in the Pico-Robertson and Century City areas and concluding at the Museum of Tolerance, on Oct. 15.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, along with the help of sponsoring organizations, organized the rally.

Elected officials, religious leaders, community activists and celebrities, including world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and former NBA player Glen “Big Baby”  Davis were among attendees of the rally, underscoring how Israel’s cause is drawing support from a wide swath of the local Jewish community, along with allies of other faiths and backgrounds.

“I’m behind you guys, 100%,” boxing champ Mayweather — who’s reportedly using his private plane to send essential supplies to Israeli soldiers—told the Journal at Sunday’s rally.

The rally was held in response to Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, infiltrating the Israeli-Gaza border on Oct. 7 before murdering more than 1,300 people and taking nearly 200 others as hostages. 

At Sunday’s demonstration, there was a keen sense of frustration felt toward those who’ve attempted to justify Hamas’s attack.

“Any support of Hamas is antisemitism,” David Fox, who showed up to the rally carrying a large Israeli flag, told the Journal. “In their charter it says they want Israel’s destruction. So, to make justifications for their actions is antisemitic.”

Still, despite the community’s impassioned feelings about Hamas terrorists’ unprovoked actions, the event was calm, controlled and without incident, with one attendee noting the lack of hateful rhetoric toward the Palestinian community.

“It’s amazing how peaceful it is,” they told the Journal. “There’s no hate speech as opposed to what we see when they have pro-Palestinian rallies in Berlin, in France. There’s no nastiness here. It’s a peaceful demonstration unifying the Jewish people and there’s certainly no vitriol against the Palestinians. That’s the difference between this and other rallies we’ve seen.”

At 10:30 a.m., the demonstration kicked off with rally-goers marching from Young Israel of Century City before heading west. The sea of people waving blue-and-white flags moved at a steady pace on Pico Boulevard before reaching the museum, at 9786 W. Pico Boulevard.

So that rally-goers could walk on the street, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officials closed off a section of Pico Boulevard for the duration of the program.

Around 11:30 a.m., city and community leaders — including Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) CEO Rabbi Marvin Hier; California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis (D); U.S. Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Mid City), Omar Qudrat, a board member at the Muslim Coalition of America; Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship; Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Israel Bachar; and Jewish social media influencer and dancer Montana Tucker — delivered remarks from the Museum of Tolerance courtyard.

“Please, all of you here, use your social media platforms to stand for Israel – I beg you,” Tucker said. “It doesn’t matter if you have one follower or one million followers, you’ll impact at least one person, and that’s all that matters.”

Rachel Goldberg, whose son, Hersch, was injured and is believed kidnapped by Hamas, called into the event to speak.

Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles CEO and President Rabbi Noah Farkas also appeared. Addressing the crowd, Farkas highlighted the generosity of the Diaspora community in the days since the attack on Israel. As of Oct. 15, the L.A. Federation has raised more than $9 million, with funds benefiting soldiers as well as paying for electronics for Israeli schoolkids who are switching on a temporary basis to remote learning because of the war.

SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper thanked the crowd for transforming what had been envisioned as a “local event, into a global statement on behalf of Klal Yisrael,” or Jewish peoplehood.

American Jewish Committee L.A. Regional Director Richard Hirschhaut said he was heartened by the strong turnout at the rally.

“Israel is about life, Israel is about the joy of life,” Hirschhaut told the Journal. “What we see here today is an expression of that spirit of Israel.”

Attendees carried signs saying, “Never Again” “Nothing Justifies Terrorism,” “I Stand with Israel,” and “Am Yisrael Chai.” They waved U.S. flags and Israeli flags, and they cheered as cars driving by honked in support. On the sidewalk at several corners on Pico Boulevard, Chabad members asked passerby if they’d wrapped tefillin that day, and the more entrepreneurial sold flags and pro-Israel T-shirts. Others taped handprinted signs, featuring the photographs of those kidnapped by Hamas, onto displays at bus stops. At times, attendees broke out into song, singing “Oseh Shalom” and “Am Yisrael Chai.”

Attending Sunday’s rally, Janice Weitz said she was tired of watching the news from home and feeling like she was sitting around helplessly. 

Attending Sunday’s rally, Janice Weitz said she was tired of watching the news from home and feeling like she was sitting around helplessly. 

“My father’s Israeli, I’m Jewish, and I feel like I have the right to stand up for Israelis,” Weitz said. “I was tired of sitting in my living room doing nothing.”

Kristin Walker noted the anti-Israel voices who’ve felt emboldened to speak up in the days following the attack. In an interview, she said she was “surprised” by “the amount of antisemitism that was hidden but closely underneath the surface.”

But she was feeling hopeful seeing the day’s turnout. It was, she said, a day of “community, Jewish people [standing] together and loud, not hiding.”

Thomas Jacobson, a retired attorney, was aboard the St. Louis as an infant when, in 1939, it was turned away by Cuba and the U.S. before being sent back to Europe. Walking down Pico at Sunday’s rally, the child Holocaust survivor spoke with the Journal about the importance of Jews having their own nation. 

“This is why we say, ‘Never again,’” Jacobson said. “You have to have a homeland. You have to support Israel. That’s why I’m here.”

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