In the face of “Allahu akbar” chants and condemnations of the State of Israel, a sole sixteen-year-old Israeli-American Jew named Daniel Pereg bravely defended his homeland on Memorial Day.
“I came out because I wanted to support Israel, because they [Israel] were attacking when they had the right,”
A video posted on the Internet site Jewlicious showed Pereg speaking to reporters outside the Israel consulate in downtown Los Angeles as he proudly marched through the crowd of anti-Israel protesters, waving a massive, Israeli flag through the air.
Although Pereg faced a David-and-Goliath-like standoff, he stood his ground.
A group of Muslim and anti-Israeli protesters turned their attack directly at him, shouting “Shame on Israel.” Pereg, wearing an Israeli Defense Forces t-shirt, a mini-Israeli flag, and a white kippa, became a focus for their hatred.
“They were trying to pull my flag down, but I saw six or seven cops running over to help me so I wasn’t afraid,” Pereg told The Jerusalem Post.
“The cops were scared for me, though; they kept telling me they were scared for my safety.”
As the flotilla aftermath has caused anti-Israeli protests across the world, many members of the Diaspora, like Pereg, have responded to these antagonists. All over the world, Jews are rallying support for Israel amidst international condemnation.
Dima Kletsel, 28, of Berlin, started a Facebook campaign with several friends on Monday, encouraging supporters of Israel to change their profile picture to signify their support of Israel. While these activists may not be able to amass such crowds like the protests of the Im Tirtzu movement on Tuesday in Israel, what they lack in numbers they make up for with chutzpah.
“I am affiliated with Judaism and the State of Israel, that’s it,” Pereg affirmed.
Strong support of the American Jewish Diaspora is crucial, now more than ever, according to Jacob Dyan, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles.
“I believe outside Israel, we are the second largest Jewish community, and so we have an obligation to stand up for the state of Israel,” Dyan said.
“We are one people...The Diaspora is extremely important.”
Like Dyan, Pereg sees standing up for the country he loves as nothing extraordinary: He was simply carrying out his duty.
“I feel that I didn’t do something super special, I just came with a flag,” Pereg said.
“I couldn’t stand by and let that happen. I couldn’t just sit at home and do nothing. I had to put my voice out there and that’s what I did.”
Pereg, born in Petah Tikva, a city near Tel-Aviv, moved to American when he was two-years-old following a family tragedy. He says that he cannot wait to return to Israel and achieve his goal of becoming a member of the Knesset.
“I want to find a way to finish high school in Israel,” Pereg said, who is currently a sophomore.
Although Pereg was alone in his stance in favor of Israel on Monday, on Tuesday at least 600 pro-Israel protesters gathered outside the Turkish embassy, holding Israeli and American flags, according to the consul general. The Israeli Consulate in L.A. also plans to hold a community-wide protest this Sunday.
“We are trying to summon all community leaders, rabbis and pastors, to motivate people to come on Sunday,” Dyan said. “There is a lot of misinformation and we need to focus on educating our community.”
As the flotilla aftermath continues to unfold, Pereg says that the
fundamental misconception lies with people’s understanding of the Mavi
“Those people were not humanitarians,” Pereg told reporters at the protest.
“The ship was armed with knives, batons, all kinds of things to attack Israeli soldiers with,” Pereg said.
“There’s a navy blockade on Gaza. These soldiers were just doing their
job. They’re not murders; they’re not bad people; they’re just Israeli
soldiers trying to defend their country,” Pereg added, as someone
yelled for him to get into a car and out of harm’s way.
Pereg, however, did not oblige.