By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The turnout for a pro-Israel rally on the Reigelman Boardwalk on Sunday was so large that the line of demonstrators stretched from Brighton Fifth Street all the way to Ocean Parkway, according to organizers, who said the event was a solid show of solidarity for Israel during a time of heightening tensions.
The rally, which was sponsored by activist Ben Akselrod and Davidzon Radio, featured remarks from several elected officials all pledging their support for Israel in its fight against Hamas in Gaza. Assemblymember William Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) and Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) were also instrumental in putting together the rally.
Sofa Landver, a member of Israel’s Knesset; Aleksander Valdman, the deputy mayor of Ashdod in Israel; and Larisa Gershtein, the former vice mayor of Jerusalem, also spoke to the large crowd via a satellite feed from Israel.
“We’re here to speak up for freedom because when freedom is threatened in one part of the world, it is threatened in every part of the world,” Colton said. “We’re here to support Israel because people everywhere must speak up for and support freedom and democracy in Israel and throughout the world. We can never remain silent because that would be the real threat to freedom everywhere.”
In addition to Colton and Treyger, the lawmakers who spoke at the rally included U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Brooklyn-Staten Island) and Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park-Midwood).
“This rally not only provided southern Brooklyn residents of all faiths with the opportunity to come together to express their emotions on a situation that is very close to their hearts, but it enabled them to show our brethren in Israel, and the rest of the world, that southern Brooklyn is supporting them during this time of crisis,” Akselrod said.
Israel Defense Forces veterans and Israeli citizens read the names and ages of fallen Israeli soldiers. Following the tribute to the soldiers, there was a moment of silence.
In between the speeches, the crowd chanted the slogan “Am Yisrael Chai” (Israel lives). Many participants waved homemade signs supporting Israel, as well as Israeli flags.
"I stand with Israel because I believe in freedom, democracy, and security. It is imperative that the free world, which vows to protect these precious values, stands with Israel during its fight for security and peace. After all, Israel is the only country in that troubled region that reflects and practices the beliefs of the free world. If Hamas spent as much time building towards peace as they do building weapons tunnels underneath schools and hospitals, we'd see a very different outcome today. Until then, Israel is within her right to protect, secure, and preserve its people and nation," Treyger said.
Davidzon radio features Russian language programming.
“Russian speaking Americans are an important segment of New York City’s Jewish community. So many of Davidzon Radio’s listeners have voiced concern over what is happening in the Middle East that I felt an obligation to provide them, and the entire southern Brooklyn community, with an opportunity to show solidarity with Israel,” said Gregory Davidzon, president of Davidzon Radio.