Over 600 turn out for D.C. pro-Israel rally

More than 600 people attended a pro-Israel rally in Washington, D.C., cheering Jewish and Christian clergy and lawmakers who pledged to stand with Israel during the Gaza conflict.

Speakers at the July 17 rally in Farragut Square, just blocks from the White House, called for an end to the barrage of missiles launched by Hamas and other groups.

The speakers rejected equating Hamas and Israel in the current conflict, saying that Israel goes out of its way to warn Palestinians while Hamas places its arms among its civilians.

“Every rocket fired into Israel is a war crime,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks).

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) spoke of Congress’ strong support for Israel.

If Hamas “would protect their own children as much as Israel protects their own children, we would have a chance for peace,” Franks said.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, praised the unity of the crowd in its support for Israel, but also called for consideration of the civilians on both sides who suffer.

 “We must never, never turn our backs when civilians die,” he said.

The rally was sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, a number of area synagogues and about 50 Jewish organizations. Canadian and Israeli diplomats also attended. — jta