By COLlive reporter
A grassroots initiative to support Israel’s military operation in Gaza has grown into a community-wide solidarity rally to take place in the Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach on Thursday, July 31.
Joseph Waks, clothing designer, says he came up with the idea for a rally after a friend told him that she wouldn’t hang an Israeli flag on her car because she was afraid.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” says the Australian born Waks, “that in 2014, in Miami Beach somebody would be worried about expressing their identity? It totally shook me up.”
Since Israel launched a campaign to stop Hamas rockets being fired at civilians, South Florida has become a place of anti-semitism and hate crimes.
Swastikas reminiscent of 1942 and words like “Hamas” and “Jew” were spray painted on a synagogue in North Miami Beach, two Jewish owned cars and an apartment building with many Jewish residents.
“I felt like we needed to do something,” says Waks, who turned to friends and social media to garner support for a large solidarity rally. Word began to spread and soon enough all major Jewish institutions, synagogues and agencies in Miami asked to join.
“This rally is more than supporting Israel’s right to exist,” says Waks. “There is a surge of antisemitism that is palpable here in South Florida. Just this morning there was another Jewish building vandalized. We have to send a clear message: Jews should not be targeted. Not in Miami, not in Paris, not in Jerusalem not anywhere.
“I have never spoken about Israel or my Jewishness to my clients. However, with the current situation in Israel and antisemitism both internationally and at our front doors reaching an all time high, I’ve come to realize that I am a Jew. A proud Jew.”
Devorah Leah Andrusier, a resident of Bal Harbour and mother of 7 children, says she felt the need to do something.
“Every night, after work and putting the kids to bed, I check Facebook and the news for updates. I am inundated with pictures and videos of the painful and tragic losses of our soldiers and information of what’s going on in Israel,” she says.
“Hamas is fighting a propaganda war. Israel is the aggressor killing innocent civilians. How can people actually believe these lies? How can they not see these terrorists for what they are,” Andrusier says.
“Israel is doing everything it possibly can to protect Palestinian civilians. Israel not only has a right to defend itself, it has a duty to destroy those who want to wipe out the Jewish people and all freedom seeking people. Hamas hates Americans and Westerners with the same deep hate they have for Israelis.”
The Community Solidarity Rally for Israel will be held at the Michael-Ann Russel Jewish Community Center on 18900 NE 25th Avenue in North Miami Beach on Thursday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m.
Standing together, unified, Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar, Spiritual Leader of The Shul, and Pastor Carlos Ortiz, National Hispanic Coordinator of Christians United for Israel, will be addressing the crowd.
Organizers are encouraging the public to come dressed in blue and white, the colors of Israel’s flag. Water and snacks will be provided as well as parking.