Pro-Israel protest in Love Park - Philadelphia News

January 8, 2009 9:02:22 PM PST
While thousands rallied for Israel at Love Park, Palestinian supporters looked on. Busloads of students from Jewish schools took part of in a larger gathering at Love Park, billed as a solidarity rally with Israel.

Supporters cheered a platform of pro-Israel speakers.

Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's senior senator, was among those who spoke and said Israel is fully justified in its military offensive against Hamas. He also said it is a legitimate reaction to more than 6,000 rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel over the last three years.

"Who would tolerate rockets being fired at on their homes; Israel is exactly right in what it is doing," Specter said.

Philadelphia Police stood between the larger group and a handful of those protesting Israel's actions.

The two sides traded insults.

Among those protesting Israel's offensive was a Jewish woman who called it an unjust overreaction.

"The response to crazy people doing acts of violence is not for the world's fourth largest military to go in and lost a full scale attack on a densely populated civilian area," Hannah Schwarzschild of Germantown said.

But was a minority view at this noontime event, where the wrap-up speaker was the head of Philadelphia's NAACP, Jerry Mondesire.

"I know what is Israel is going through because I've seen it with my own eyes. I stand here as a civil rights activist to tell you if somebody was lobbing a bomb at me, I wouldn't stand for it," Mondesire said.

Meanwhile, Tawfiq Barqawi watched with heartbreak. He says that Hamas attacks are due to 60 years of occupation.

"The Israelis have to understand that there is other people living side by side and they have a right to their own state," Barqawi said.

He questions how Americans would respond to such treatment and says the Israeli offensive must end.

"Now, it's a massacre. So far, 767 people get killed, more than half of them are children and women," Barqawi said.

Both sides talk of self-determination and self-defense, but have very little of common ground.

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