About 100 people marched from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza on May 12 in a show of support for Israel in its conflict against Hamas and Islamic jihad terrorist attacks.
The event organized by the Israeli-American Council was one of 19 rallies that day across the United States.
Participants of all ages gathered at the “Rocky” steps and, with a police escort, marched down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, chanting and waving Israeli flags and pro-Israel signs.
At one point, the chant was “Hummus, not Hamas.”
“It’s a beautiful sight,” said Hani Reuveni, the community engagement coordinator of IAC Philadelphia, who led the march, complete with a bullhorn. “It’s absolutely perfect.”
Marchers were greeted with occasional honks of support from passing drivers, which always drew cheers. The number of marchers swelled from the 60 or so who left from the art museum to about 100, as some people joined en route.
It took about 35 minutes for the contingent to reach the Holocaust plaza and the Israeli flag along the parkway. The chants and a couple speakers continued for a few moments before the group dispersed.
Despite the positive nature of the event, participants didn’t forget the perilous situation.
“It’s very painful to see what’s going on in Israel,” said Sharona Drurry, an Israeli native who was IAC’s first program and communication manager when the organization opened its Philadelphia office in 2016.
“My father is 98 and my mother is 90. It doesn’t feel right to have elderly parents and children in shock,” continued Drurry, who founded PhillyIsrael in 2005. “Now they’re in so much pain and fear.”
IAC said thousands participated in its rallies.
“Our communities are always closely connected to Israel. Especially now, when our brothers and sisters are under brutal attack by terrorist organizations, we need to be there, to speak in support of Israel and its citizens and to stand together side by side against terror,” IAC co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet said.
The May 12 rally was just one of numerous area shows of support for Israel.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia held a virtual Philadelphia Stands with Israel event on May 16.
“We are united in our unwavering support for Israel, particularly as the trauma grows with each passing hour,” said Michael Balaban, incoming president and CEO of the Jewish Federation.
The event featured a discussion with Balaban; Tamir Idan, chairman of the Sdot Negev Regional Council; Rabbi Eric Yanoff, co-president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia; and U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Susan Wild.
The Jewish Federation also announced a new Israel Emergency Fund to support those in Israel impacted by the current attacks. Money collected with go for portable bomb shelters, air conditioning units for shelters and trauma services.
Residents can visit jewishphilly.org/israelemergencyfund to contribute to the fund.
And on May 16 Israeli supporters held a counter-protest in Rittenhouse Square after pro-Palestinian protesters marched through Center City, NBC10 reported.
Also over the weekend, video circulated on social media of three men unsuccessfully trying to burn the Israeli flag hanging outside the Holocaust plaza.
“This act of hatred only serves to sow further division within our community,” said Eszter Kutas, executive director of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation. “… We are appalled by this attempted vandalism — it isn’t representative of the spirit of our city.”