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To someone who sees the retreats from Lebanon and Gush Katif as stepping-stones leading to the abduction of the three kidnapped soldiers – Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – it was sickening to hear retreat facilitator Tzippy Livni screaming into the microphone, “Free them now!”

If she really wanted them free, then why would she have enabled the enemy to carry out abductions by allowing them strongholds on our borders in place of buffer zones heavily guarded by Jewish soldiers?

And then in the next sentence she says, “We are ready for dialogue, ready for co-existence.” She did not say that the dialogue and co-existence can only begin when our sons and husbands are released. Her grand gesture for brotherhood could not be thwarted by such trivialities.

Livni was speaking at the rally in NYC on Wednesday, September 20, 2006, which was advertised as being outside of the UN. Yes, 47th street is definitely outside of the UN which is on 42nd street, even if the grounds do run to 45th.

The rally itself was not sickening. Just some of the speeches. The music was great! I thought they announced that the band was named ‘Blue Fish,’ but my son corrected me. The name is ‘Blue Fringe.’ Great name and great music.

In general the rally was very upbeat. Jews like to be together. I did not notice any major media personnel. The only television camera I noticed was from the Russian station.

The rally was an interesting mix of people. JTA dot org reported the crowd at 35,000. I would guess it was a scant 4,000 and with comers and goers give it another thousand. At the end of one city block was the stage and that block was full to the end, but not packed. The Avenue at the end of the block was open to traffic and the rest of the crowd stood behind barriers for not even a quarter of the next block.

At least a thousand of the crowd were placard carrying Christians. They were all nice looking, well groomed people. They are also interested in saving Eretz Yisroel from an Iranian attack. They feel good about being our allies.

I would estimate more than half the crowd was made up of high school students. Their buses lined the avenues for blocks. Just before Rosh Hashana it was wonderful to see so many beautiful Jewish kids. It would be great to hold a rally for the schools and adapt the program to them.

Another thousand were paid workers from the various organizations who were affiliated with organizing the rally. They all wore t-shirts and/or ID cards with the name of their organization. Hadassah had bright red t-shirts. Other visible organizations were United Jewish Appeal and various Federation groups.

The men with long black coats and twirled side curls numbered at about fifteen. They set up on the second block close to the girls from Bruriah High School.

At the beginning of the program a speaker listed the places from which people had traveled to NYC just to attend the rally. The list was very impressive. I didn’t write it down but I remember Canada, Iowa and Venezuela.

There were a lot of different signs. The one I would have awarded – were I to give an award – would be the one that began UN SUCKS. (Although I never let such terminology in my home, I realized that even this unrefined saying has its application.) I didn’t write down the rest, but it very concisely said that the UN was void of capabilities to accomplish the purpose of its existence.

As advertised, the goal of the rally was to protest the address at the UN by the President of Iran. (Forget that, we were so far away no one had a clue we were there.) But it was clear that the theme of the rally was unity with Israel. Arutz Sheva quoted Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the organization responsible for the rally, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, as saying, "The purpose of the rally is to show solidarity with Israel and to demand the release of the MIAs.”

The opening words of the rally praised the collection of groups who had dropped their differences and formed an alliance for the rally. The idea of overlooking differences to benefit the common good, re-enforced the concept that support for the government in Eretz Yisroel means to overlook the corruption and willful destruction, and allow them to make their own decisions unfettered. American Jews are to show solidarity with the accepted implication that we give our support not our opinions.

My purpose for being at the rally was to counter that concept. Together with Buddy Macy, we were giving out booklets specially prepared by to influence Jews who have always believed that if they do not move to Eretz Yisroel and serve in the army, they have no right to voice their opinion.

The booklet is called ‘The Complex Relationship of American Jews to the Land of Israel.’ The front page has a list of questions, all of which are answered comprehensively and politely inside the booklet. Some of the questions are:
• Should a Jew Living Outside of Eretz Yisroel Say Bad Things About the Jewish Government in Eretz Yisroel… Especially Within Earshot of Non-Jews?
• Will It Harm Private and Public Funding if We Openly Criticize?
• Were the Police at Amona Justified in Using Force Against Unruly Settlers?

The booklet presents the view that true and enduring solidarity is a relationship. And a healthy relationship can only be achieved and maintained if there is morality, honesty and communication.

Buddy and I had arranged to meet at 11:15, southwest corner of 1st and 49th. Buddy was running about five minutes ahead of time and I was about five minutes late. He got close to our meeting place and was not allowed to pass. President Bush was coming to the UN and our designated corner was closed off. At about the same time, I was emerging from the subway a few blocks away. Without going into details, except to clarify we did not yet use our cell phones, we met exactly at 11:15! I was walking towards our meeting place, he was walking away. We were both on time! The surprise meeting gave us the feeling that things would be going our way.

The streets opened up again after the President passed. We arrived early at the site of the rally and started moving towards the stage. Most of the early comers were the Christians. Our material was not written with them in mind, but when some saw the booklet and asked for one, the request was granted with a smile.

There was an area in front of the stage which was cordoned off. I presumed it was for dignitaries and friends. The crowd was starting to thicken and we noticed a classy group of men and women winding their way to the front in a single file. Buddy approached the woman at the front, handing her a booklet and saying, “This is very important reading about the responsibility of American Jews to speak out against the government in Israel.” The woman annoyingly slammed the booklet back into Buddy’s hand and brushed by him in disgust. The others in her group followed her example. They were wearing stickers identifying them as Jewish Federation.

Buddy volunteered for years with the Federation until he realized that the organization that he had been loyal to and raised money for, did not have the values he was seeking. He may not have been well enough informed to know the Federation should have come out against the Disengagement, but he did know that the least they could do would be to help the refugees from Gush Katif after the Disengagement. When Buddy learned that the Federations, as a whole, were not raising or allocating funds for the expellees from Gush Katif, and when he witnessed UJC’s silence in the aftermath of the police and military brutality at Amona, he resigned from his Federation positions. It is no wonder Buddy has a burning desire to inform others of what he was left to painfully discover by himself.

So when Buddy sees a person affiliated with the Federation he wants to turn on the light for them and lead them from their darkness. I explained to him that the goal is to get the booklet into their hand, and the best way to do that is with a smile. Hopefully during the program – and these programs tend to drag on – they will need to refresh themselves by doing something visual and will read a few pages. Or, they might take it home and pick it up from time to time before filing it in the garbage can.

I turned around and there was another group weaving through the crowd. I noticed on their Federation name tags that they had come from Connecticut. I smiled at the leader and said ‘Wow, you came all the way from Connecticut!’ as I handed him a booklet. He smiled back while taking the booklet as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The rest in his line followed his example.

Buddy was quick to learn. Being friendly comes easy to Buddy. His name suits him.

I think we had a lot of success. Some people took the booklets, some came over and asked for one, often the booklets initiated stimulating conversations.

One stately looking Rabbi told us in an authoritarian tone that it is not proper for a Jew living outside of Eretz Yisroel to criticize the Jewish government. It was hard to argue with someone of his apparent stature. I, being a casually dressed woman, and Buddy an obviously secular Jew were uncomfortable explaining Judaism to a Rabbi with a full grey beard. I respectfully told the rabbi the answer was on the back cover of the booklet. There he will read a quote from someone who also looks like a distinguished rabbi. The quote is taken from a letter dated 1959, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote, “Jews in the Diaspora should negate from now and into the future, the claim which is heard in certain circles, that a Jew living outside of Eretz Yisroel should not give his opinion regarding matters in the Holy Land, may it be rebuilt and established.”

At one point, I was complimenting a woman on the gorgeous red color of her Hadassah t-shirt as I was handing her the booklet, and I began to wonder if maybe my approach was too superficial and taking away from the importance of reading the booklet. But an hour later, just as our supply of booklets ran out and I was about to leave, a woman in her red Hadassah shirt came up to me and told me she read the booklet. She told me very seriously that she thinks it is a very important manuscript.