Despite being far across the world, the Israel-Hamas conflict is an issue whose effects have spread throughout the United States in visible and terrifying ways.
Supporters of both sides have been attacked for espousing their views, and carrying a Palestinian or Israeli flag openly in public makes you susceptible to be shouted at by a passersby—just six days ago, two men were arrested for driving their car into a group of pro-Palestinian protestors.
Unswayed by this adversity, avid Israeli activist Galia D. set up a rally to show Israel support on Sunday, October 29, which was held next to the Santa Monica Pier.
An estimated 2,000 participants showed up with Israeli flags held high. In the center of the crowd was a 100-foot long and 10-foot-wide flag donated by a collector. Participants took turns holding the flag off the ground.
Just off the coast were seven yachts, proudly displaying their Israeli flags which were large enough to be seen from shore.
The Tiger Squadron, which are led by Galia D.’s brother and former American military member, are a plane-flying group who do parades, celebrations, and more. They flew in a diamond formation above the rally, leaving trails in the sky reminiscent of the flags displayed below.
“We want to show Israel that we support them from land, sea and sky,” Galia said. “We want to honor them and the soldiers who fell in battle.”
Galia, as well as several other participants, asked to remain anonymous out of fear of being attacked for their love of Israel.
One even asked this reporter to recite the Shehecheyanu—the prayer for celebration—before agreeing to an interview. According to Galia, the event was funded by several generous private donors, as well as the Israeli bookstore Steimatzky.
Several participants came to the podium and made speeches. “We are here as one nation- one heart!” one said. “We are here to show we are united and unbreakable!”
“We don’t want this to be a celebration, it’s a show of support,” said another. “The media is so pro-terrorist, we just have to stand out here and show we stand with the good guys.”
One of the participants, an 80-year-old former IDF member wore his old uniform to the rally. One of his sons, who still lives in Israel, was killed by a bomb just last month. He wept as he spoke to me.
“The hostages. We say bring them home, bring them home,” he said. “And I would sacrifice my life for them. Sh’ma Yisrael– for Israel.”