Israel rally in Melbourne attracts 3000 people.
(photo credit: ZIONIST COUNCIL OF VICTORIA)
Despite vicious anti-Semitic rhetoric across the Australian Jewish community this past month, more than 3000 people gathered to show support for Israel in Melbourne on Sunday.
Children perched on their parents' shoulders while young and old joined in the universal cry for peace on the steps of Parliament House.
The rally for peace brought traffic in the city to a stand still with Spring Street closed to public transport. Everywhere you looked there was a swathe of blue and white with Israeli and Australian flags blowing in the wind and placards calling for peace prominently displayed.
Zionist Council of Victoria President Sam Tatarka started the day’s proceedings with a call to the public to use the hash tag “#melbournestandswithisrael” and show the world the support for the IDF and Israeli civilians.
“We have come today to show our solidarity for the only democracy in the Middle East,” Tatarka said.
“All we long for is to live free in our homeland. Australia understands freedom and democracy, so does Israel.”
Zionist Federation of Australia president Dr Danny Lamm told the crowd the war in Gaza was not initiated by Israel and that Israel did everything it could to avoid the war.
"Since 2001, more than 15 000 rockets have been indiscriminately fired at Israel. Some crossed the border and some hit institutions in Gaza," he said.
"Israel wants peace and has accepted every ceasefire proposal. Gaza has broken every ceasefire!” Dr Lamm said.
One of the most poignant moments in the rally came when ZCV president Sam Tatarka called for a minute’s silence to show respect for all those who have lost their lives in the current conflict.
The crowd had a lump in their throats when they heard the personal account of Eliyakim Dahan an Israeli living in Melbourne who lost three of his close friends in the conflict.
Other guest speakers included Dr Colin Rubenstein of Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, prominent State MPs David Southwick, Clem Newton Brown, Martin Pakula, Martin Foley and Jan Kronberg.
Messages were also read out from the Premier, Dr Denis Napthine and the Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Andrews MP.
The meeting was interspersed with singing with the crowd joining in popular Hebrew songs, all with a message of peace such as Oseh Shalom, Yachad and Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu.
A similar Israel-support rally was held in Sydney on August 3 with more than 10,000 people in attendance.