Even the rain couldn’t derail protest groups from hitting the Wilshire Boulevard sidewalks to speak out about Israel. Outside the Federal Building in Westwood on Sunday, about 40 people rallied on the first anniversary of Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, while approximately 80 people turned out to proclaim their support for the Jewish homeland.
Jews for Peace organized the protest against Israel’s actions, while the pro-Israel education organization StandWithUs and the local nonprofit Council of Israeli Community (CIC) were responsible for organizing the Israel-friendly side.
Los Angeles Jews for Peace demonstrators said they are not anti-Israel, but came together to criticize the country’s treatment of Palestinians. “We’re here to remember what happened in Gaza a year ago, and we’re here to stand up and say we believe in Jewish values of universal justice,” said Jeff Warner, action coordinator for the group. “Those values tell us that the siege of Gaza was wrong.”
“We’re here today to make sure Israel’s story is told,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, while holding an Israeli flag. “The other side is doing their usual thing of finger pointing and telling a one-sided, out-of-context story. We just want to make sure that the facts are clear. Hamas is dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”
Maya Rozov, 22 and a recent graduate of UC Irvine, was among those who came out to support Israel’s military incursion into Gaza. “I saw a sign that said, ‘What’s the difference between the Holocaust and Gaza ... seven years,’ which is obviously a horrific misuse of words and terms,” Rozov said, as she and two other supporters held up a banner that read, “Hamas: Stop Using Gaza as a Launching Pad.”
Heavy traffic passing by on the way to the Golden Globe ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel nearby had cars honking in support of the demonstrators, though it was impossible to gauge which side each honk was for.
The StandWithUs and CIC group waved Israeli and American flags, carried signs with messages like “Imagine Peace, Imagine Palestinians Free from Hamas,” and some blew shofars. One volunteer handed out a booklet titled, “Israel Pocket Facts,” with information emphasizing the necessity of a Jewish homeland and describing security threats to the country.
L.A. Jews for Peace was less raucous, but they also held up signs and banners, including “Peace=Palestine Alongside Israel” and “Israel Blockade of Gaza is an Act of War.” Despite their differences, the two sides remained respectful of one another, with no aggressive shouting or behavior.
Videos by Ryan Torok