MORE than 500 people turned out in support of Israel at a rally in Brisbane’s CBD on Sunday, chanting “Israel we stand with you”, many waving Israeli flags and holding signs expressing solidarity with families of those murdered in southern Israel and Israelis abducted to Gaza as hostages.
Clearly moved, Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies president Jason Steinberg told The AJN afterwards, “We heard real stories from people who have either just been in Israel or have lost people.”
The rally heard difficult accounts from Ruby, a young Brisbane woman, who returned from her Shnat gap-year program in Israel after the Hamas attacks. “It was 6.30am and they told us that Gaza was attacking … we thought they were just being dramatic,” she said. “We were all talking in the shelter … suddenly the ground shakes … followed by a missile hit extremely close to us. Everyone went silent besides a few whispers of ‘I’m scared’ and ‘I want to go home’.”
Attendees learned of vigils with families in Israel kept by Na’ama, a visiting Israeli scientist based at the University of Queensland and by Yonatan, an Israeli paediatric surgeon at a Brisbane hospital.
“Queensland thankfully is a beacon of multiculturalism,” the state’s Multicultural Affairs Minister Leanne Linard told the rally. “I can say on behalf of our government, there is no place for hatred or violence.”
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, who had ordered the lighting of Brisbane’s Story Bridge in blue and white, described the catastrophe as “an issue of humanity”.