BY LUIS GRONDA
Several Queens elected officials and religious leaders stood together to support Israel last week.
Gathered in front of Queens Borough Hall, they called on Israel and Palestine to bury the hatchet and stop the seemingly endless conflict between the two countries.
“For the state of Israel, the problem has always been there’s never anyone on the other side to speak to,” said Michael Nussbaum, a member of the Queens Jewish Community Council and Queens Tribune Publisher. “When you have an entity like Hamas and the leadership in Gaza that are afraid to make a statement and offer to sit down at a table with Israelis, who have to live and survive by constant strife and terror. That is not a partner that anyone can ask Israel to sit down with.”
The QJCC and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York called for the pro-Israel rally in light of escalated tension on the Gaza strip. Both sides have continued fighting despite calls for peace. There have been a few temporary cease-fire agreements but the battle resumed as soon as that ended. Egypt even offered a peace agreement to stop the conflict but to no avail.
As of press time, 568 Gazans and 27 Israelis have died as a result of the war. Two American-born Israeli soldiers, Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli, were also killed.
One by one, Queens elected officials spoke of their support for Israel and to urge both sides to end the fighting. Leading the entourage of politicians was Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who said just because Israel has a defense system like the Iron Dome, it does not mean its residents should have to constantly duck for cover when it is attacked.
“Every single time Israel is attacked, we are out here defending their right to survive, just their right to exist, it’s enough,” she said.
There was also a small group of individuals that were present at the rally, but not necessarily in support of Israel.
Naomi Greenberg and Adam Carroll, both from the Flushing Interfaith Council, said that the two sides are in the wrong for this conflict, not just Hamas. Carroll said the elected officials in Queens and abroad should be encouraging talks between the two sides.
“Instead of pandering to one community or another, we want elected officials to promote dialogue between communities,” said Carroll, who said he is a practicing Muslim. “Israelis and Palestinians are traumatized by this ongoing war.”
Greenberg, who said she is a Jewish pagan, said both sides are in the wrong and much of what was said at the rally against Hamas is also true about Israel.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @luisgronda.