I went to the rally for Israel on Monday in New York and was struck by the extremism of some of the speeches from liberal Democrats, also by the fact that the legions of Israel supporters were chiefly religious. Ten thousand strong, but they knew the words to Hebrew songs, one man blew a shofar, they mouthed the Hebrew prayers that rabbis made at the mike. Many signs were in Hebrew, and it was obvious that many people had come from synagogues and temples and Jewish community centers. Lots of yarmulkes, folks wearing the same t-shirts.
Here are three of the wilder political speeches. First, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer gave a belligerent speech (part of which is above) saying that anti-Semitism is rising around the world, that Israel has never been at greater risk, and we have to “fight back.” Notice in this speech that he says “We have discovered” tunnels — merging the U.S. with Israel.
Also notice the existential threat Stringer perceives to Israel from world opinion. “What’s at stake is the survival of Israel. It has never been more… dangerous, right now.” I agree with him.
Your being here today has never been so important. The reality is there are many people around the world, people actually in countries around the world, rallying and saying death to the Jews. That is what’s going on around the world. We have missiles coming into Israel every day and some actually defend the actions of Hamas. We have tunnels that we have discovered and people say, Well that’s nothing to be concerned about. But we say, Enough is enough. We’ve got to fight back. It is up to us in New York City to make the case for Israel. We must be the people who defend Israel…
We must mobilize our people and freedom-loving people around the world. You see, however New York rolls, so does public opinion. And we need to back up Israel with our strong public opinion, Making sure that there’s no excuse for you to be silent when it comes to protecting Israel against terrorists. That is why we’re here. We must be here time and time again, rallying around. We cannot take no for an answer. What’s at stake– what’s at stake is the survival of Israel. It has never been more complicated than it is right, now. More dangerous, right now. And we have a case that we have to make Because if we can’t beat the terrorists, and they win, shame on all of us.
Let’s fight back, let’s be angry, let’s really give it to them the way we should. We are in the right.
Next, Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng seemed to get on and off the podium in a big hurry. She was surprising for her comments on Israel protecting civilians and her claims that the Palestinian resistance to Israel has morphed into acts of anti-Semitism around the world.
Hamas deliberately puts the people of Gaza in harm’s way, while Israel takes every precaution to defend not only its own citizens but Palestinian civilians as well. What other country goes to such great lengths to protect civilians?
The conflict Israel faces has rapidly extended beyond its borders with the alarming acts of anti-semitism that have been taking place all over the world. These assaults on Jews internationally must be addressed and condemned by governments abroad and by the United Nations.
Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’s speech is on vimeo, so I don’t have to upload it.
Jeffries was also over the top, portraying Cast Lead massacre as a threat to Israel, and using a phrase at the end of his speech that recalls George Wallace’s defense of segregation.
“Israel has a right to defend itself against aggression, particularly when that aggression is directed against its civilian population.
Lastly, perhaps my most important observation: Israel is here to stay and it will remain forever. Because of the resolve that you’re showing and that we will continue to show… Now we know that Israel lives in a very tough neighborhood. The Muslim Brotherhood to the south, Hezbollah to the north, Syria to the east, Iraq in chaos, Iran with nuclear aspirations, Hamas in Gaza. Israel lives in a tough neighborhood, and there are certain realities to that. We mourn the loss of civilian life on both sides of the conflict. But when you live in a tough neighborhood, Israel should not be made to apologize for its strength. You know why? Because the only thing that neighbors respect in a tough neighborhood is strength…
“No matter how difficult things may look, when you think about Israel’s history and its resilience, the partnership and the friendship that our two countries have held together, I’m confident that Israel will prevail in the end, because Israel faced aggression in 1948 and Israel prevailed. And then you faced aggression in 1967– and Israel prevailed…. Then you had to deal with the first intifada and Israel prevailed! And Israel had to deal with the second intifada and Israel prevailed. The missiles were flying in Dec. of 2008 and Israel prevailed…
“So when I’m confident that when it’s all said and done, we’re going to stand together, Israel today, Israel tomorrow, Israel forever.”
Alabama Gov. George Wallace, 1963: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”