APRPEH reporting from Legislative Plaza - from Sunday 11 January 2009
On a blustery Sunday, January 11 with temperatures falling through the 30s, the Christian and Jewish communities of middle Tennessee came together to support Israel in her war with the Hamas Islamic terrorists. Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) and the local Jewish community organized the rally held at Legislative Plaza adjacent to Capitol Hill which overlooks the plaza. With no barriers to prevent the wind from whipping through, a bone chilled but warm hearted crowd, most of which stayed for the entire program listened to speaker after speaker explain why Americans should support Israel and her Cast Lead operation to inflict maximum damage on Hamas and stop the rocket fire into Israel from Gaza.
The attendance, before the cold weather reduced the numbers is estimated (by me) to have been between 250 - 300 people (75% not Jewish). Supportive signs and waved Israeli flags were only eclipsed by an over sized flag of Israel draped over the steps to Legislative Plaza held by some of the children in attendance. Although invited and on the schedule to speak, none of the cities non-Orthodox Rabbis attended the second of the day’s pro-Israel gatherings. An earlier gathering at one of Nashville’s Reform congregations included the Conservative and Reform Rabbis both as speakers and attendees.
more pictures here
The rally began with an invocation and inspiring talk by PJTN President
Laurie Cardoza Moore laid the groundwork for one of the main themes echoed throughout the day, challenging the institutionalized double standard and disproportional force arguments regularly targeted against Israel and the Jewish people (vis a vis the barbarians who try to harm them) and assumed by world leaders. This bias is strengthened by the international pro-Arabian media and serves to complicate understanding Israel's true situation.
“It is acceptable after all, because it is just the Jewish people” Ms. Moore stated as a hypothetical answer to the world’s lack of concern over “Hamas’s disproportionate response to Israel over the last three years as thousands of rockets rained down on innocent civilians daily including men, women and children”, “where were the protesters?” “where was the outcry for the Jewish people?”
After Ms. Moore completed her remarks, and following remarks by Steven Edelstein (see Newschannel 5 coverage at the bottom), Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Rabbi Saul Strosberg of Congregation Sherith Israel spoke.
Comparing the Jewish people to Judah Ben Yaakov Avinu (the Biblical patriarch), Rabbi Strosberg said
“Judah stood up when he sensed injustice, Judah stood up for his family, Judah stood up and so do we stand up for Israel. As Jewish people each day we wake up with a mission. Our mission is to follow the ways of G-d and to do justice and mercy. And this is not an easy mission. Sometimes, we have to go against the stream. Sometimes we’re criticized. Sometimes, we realize that we will never be accepted. That certain people in the world don’t want us to be alive. And I know this is hard to accept, but that is the truth. So together with Laurie and Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, we gather to stand up for our brothers and sisters in Israel. Yes, we must stand up. And if we don’t stand up for Israel who will? Who stood up for us 60 years ago in Europe? Who stood up for us then? And as recently as this past Thursday night, who stood up for us and stood against the United Nations resolution calling on Israel to cease its operation of breaking down the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza? No one. No one stood up. Not even our own United States. And throughout history we have stood alone. And if we do not stand up for ourselves who else will? If we don’t stand up what will our children think?
Rabbi Strosberg charged the Jewish and Christian communities to counter the inaccuracies about Israel’s offensive and not to accept the “moral equivalency” arguments which claim Israel and Hamas are equal. Such beliefs, Rabbi Strosberg went on to say will not lead to peace.
Additional speakers from the pro-Israel Christian community spoke in addition to other members of the Jewish community with ties to Israel see video from ICEJ
Also speaking were Rabbi Yitzchak Tiechtel and Rabbi Shlomo Rothstein, Chabad Rabbis in Nashville.
Rabbi Tiechtel after wishing the blessings promised to Avraham (that those who bless you shall be blessed) be fulfilled in all those non-Jews who came out to support Israel, Rabbi Tiechtel focused upon the crime of using civilian locations for military purposes putting non-combatants intentionally in harm’s way. Implied in his remarks, but not stated is the fact that most militaries purportedly representing a contingent of non-combatants goes out of its way to protect civilians while Hamas sends them to the slaughter.
“When is a school not a school? And the answer is when it is turned into launch pad for missiles and hideouts for terrorists. We stare in horror at images of innocent men, women, and children who were slain because they were forced into a situation not of their making. Innocent lives are being lost daily in the Gaza Strip and unfortunately this is a prime tactic of the terrorists Israel is trying to defeat.”Rabbi Tiechtel went on to question the morality of people (Hamas) to use the deaths of their own constituency as a weapon for propaganda.
The rally closed with a message of chizuk from Rabbi Shlomo Rothstein. Rabbi Rothstein’s charge was to change the world.
“There was a great sage many, many years ago who was asked about his view on the world. He said – ‘The world it’s upside down. They’ve changed sweetness for bitter and bitter for sweet.’ Isn’t it ironic that underneath large peace signs flourishes hate? Isn’t it ironic that people that support terrorists that want such acts of violence to continue cry out for justice? Isn’t it ironic that with so much evil and corruption, pain and suffering in the world, it’s the tiny little country in the Middle East, Israel that gets the wrath and ire in the world? Isn’t it ironic that that one nation that cares so much for peace, that will give anything for peace that prays three times a day - morning, noon and night for peace gets all the war?....”Such evil, such corruption will continue as long as this world is an upside down place. Our job is to right side up this upside down world. We all have the power with our own two feet and our own two hands to engage in acts of goodness and kindness, and acts of rightside up – true justice and peace.”
The local and regional media was sparsely seen in the crowd. To the best of my knowledge, the major local Nashville newspaper The Tennessean, did not cover the event. Unfortunately, only one television station in Nashville News Channel 5 reported on the rally. An earlier PJTN rally on December 31 received more media attention.