Sunday’s rally and march through the streets of Sydney was inspiring.
It was exactly what our community needed. Almost one month ago, we watched the barbaric events of October 7 unfold with disbelief. In the weeks since, we have had our illusions of what civilised society will tolerate shattered. Jew hatred has soared to new heights globally as we have at worst, witnessed Israel cop the blame in forum after forum for the heinous crimes committed against her, to at best being accused of overreaction in her response.
We have seen the media yet again skew events and quote Hamas propaganda as fact. We have heard certain politicians make unconscionable statements.
For weeks we have been watching anti-Israel protesters demonstrate and cry “from the river to sea” – code for Israel’s elimination – at their weekly rallies.
On Sunday, we said enough.
Four to five thousand of us proudly marched with our flags and our signs through the harbour city. We decided we are not going to sit quietly by. We loudly declared our right to be heard. We took back our city.
There was a sombre tone to the proceedings of course, as the event’s focus was to bring attention to the more than 230 kidnapped hostages who are being held in Gaza. But it was also an event filled with hope, coming together and singing and praying for peace.
The speakers in Martin Place expressed their desire for a better world; for an end to Hamas, to the benefit of Israelis and Palestinians alike. One speaker even remarked this was a “pro-Palestinian” rally – pro the Palestinian citizens of Gaza, the unwitting victims of sixteen years of Hamas totalitarian rule.
As the crowd sang Hatikvah and Oseh Shalom in First Fleet Park, the Opera House across on the other side of Circular Quay made a fitting backdrop. After the heinous “gas the Jews” chants of October 9, we took back that famous landmark too.
Along the march, scores of police were deployed to ensure the event went on safely and without a hitch. A massive thank you goes to them for their dedication – indeed, in a show of menschkeit many of those marching made sure to thank them personally.
It all made me very proud to be a part of this community.
To the organisers, a huge shekoyach for putting the event together. What makes the achievement all the more remarkable is that it was not a group of communal organisations with event management experience that made it happen, but a group of people – ordinary proud Israeli-Australians with day jobs and commitments who gave their time and put in an amazing amount of effort to bring it about. Their efforts and their passion are to be congratulated.
It is hard to believe that our communal leadership discouraged the event from going ahead and people from attending. I have enormous respect for our communal leaders, who I am in regular dialogue with, for their passion and their efforts on behalf of our community. But on this occasion, their warnings prior to the event – even if they were well intentioned – were disappointing and their post event social media spruiking of it rang hollow.
The team behind the event are planning further rallies. I encourage all our Sydney readers to get behind them. Let’s be proud and fearlessly stand for Israel together.
Gareth Narunsky is national editor of The AJN.