Over 1500 men and women, adults and students filled the sidewalk at 2nd Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan in front of the Israeli consulate on Tuesday, November 20th, to rally in support of Israel.

“I was told by people in Israel that it gave them a lot of chizuk (encouragement, strength),” said Avi Posnick, StandWithUs New York Regional Coordinator. “We are doing it for them. In my mind, that was most important.”

The rally, held between 12:30 and 2 pm, was a gathering of supporters from New York City, Brooklyn and New Jersey and students from Rambam Mesivta, Midreshet Shalhevet, Magen David, Yeshiva of Flatbush, JEC-New Jersey, and Frisch. It followed a JCRC press conference. Posnick noted that the crowd was larger than expected and had to be set up behind the stage as well as in front because the block was “maxed out.”

Posnick, greeted by cheers from students from his alma mater, Rambam, spoke to the crowd, noting that Israel has the right to defend itself and that no other nation would tolerate rockets from a neighboring country. He called on the international community to tell Hamas to stop its rockets and to stop their terrorism of the Israeli people. He said that Hamas is behind the terrorism and if they stop there would be no more violence. He said that it is important to educate ourselves and others, the American public, to stand with Israel. This, the rally, is a first step, he said, “we have to continue the momentum, we have to keep it going, the rally can’t exist in a vacuum.”

The organizers noted in an email release that the rally was necessary because, “Over the past week, the Palestinian terrorist groups in Hamas-controlled Gaza have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. Over one million Israelis - around one-eighth of the Israeli population - have been endangered and forced to repeatedly seek safety in bomb shelters. Schools have been closed. During the past 12 years, 13,000 rockets have been launched into Israel. To finally stem these attacks, Israel has launched Operation Pillar of Defense to root out terrorist groups in Gaza and destroy stockpiles of weapons. Unfortunately for both sides, Hamas hides and shoots its missiles from civilian areas, creating human shields; this is a war crime.”

The entire student body of Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls, accompanied by principal Esther Eisenman, enthusiastically attended the rally. “Despite the missed days due to the hurricane, we could not stay away from the rally,” she wrote in an email. “The students themselves requested that we participate. We must stand up in support of Israel in her hour of need. We hope to send that message to our brothers and sisters in Israel that we are with them.”

“In terms of pro Israel rallies, “ said Posnick, “this is definitely one of the larger rallies in recent years. People were coming up to us to say “thank you for putting a pro Israel, proactive rally together and not just a counter demonstration.’ It was done on a grass roots level.” Posnick noted that there are small anti-Israel protests every night in from of the consulate. “It’s important for the community to see a pro Israel rally and stand in solidarity with Israel. It was really inspiring to see so many come together from throughout the tri-state area to stand with Israel.”

Gil Lainer, consul for public affairs at the Israeli consulate, also spoke at the rally and thanked everyone for coming and showing support for the Israeli people.

Malcolm Honlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the New York Board of Rabbis also spoke.

The sponsors of the rally included StandWithUs, Strength to Strength, Amcha, in partnership with: JNF, Israel Forever Foundation, WJC, ZOA, CAMERA, MJE, Dor Chadash, JICNY, JSpace, RAJE, RAJEON, DROR for the Wounded, Hadassah, Act for Israel, National Council of Young Israel, Bereisheet, Emunah, Isramerica, NY Board of Rabbis, Hasbara Fellowships, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, MyForumDaily. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations was listed as a cooperating organization.