About 2,000 people gathered at Temple Mishkan Talfila for the Rally to Support Israel: Freedom from Fear on Monday evening to show support for Israel in the face of increasing military conflict in the area with Hamas.
The Temple was heavily guarded by State Police, with several ID checkpoints and metal detectors. Inside, the Temple was decorated with American and Israeli flags as well as pro-Israel signs reading “We Support Israel” and “Israel Seeks Peace.” A brief audio recording from Elie Wiesel was played before getting cut off, stating that collectively, “we pray for Israel and those who fight for their freedom.”
Governor Deval Patrick, State Treasurer Steve Grossman, Shai Bazak, consul general of Israel to New England and several others spoke to the enthusiastic crowd.
“I did not come here for headlines or votes,” Governor Patrick said. “I came to stand with my friends who are worried sick about their friends and family.” Patrick said that Israel is timeless and will survive.
Steve Grossman read a quote from President Barack Obama, stating “There’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on itscitizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”
A common theme throughout the rally was the need to advocate for Israeli defense in the public forum. Jeffery Robbins, chair of the Anti-Defamation League implored people to get “engaged in the battle” of words. “Muttering isn’t this awful is not enough,” Robbins said. “Every hour, there is a battle in the public square.”
Shai Bazak expressed confusion and distain towards demonstrators who protested in the streets of Boston after the Israeli air force killed Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari. “Maybe they wanted to praise this guy, Jabari,” Bazak said. “They demonstrate again and again. Even here tonight, spreading lies about Israel.”
Outside of the Temple, anti-war protesters stood by the entry and exits to the parking lot. Rick Hess of The Jewish Voice for Peace advocacy group said “we view this as a pro-war rally and we want to represent the anti-war perspective.”
At around 6:15 p.m., an argument between a protester and an attendee turned violent. Witnesses say a man punched one of the protesters in the face.
Ilia Sokolinsky, 39, from Brighton was arrested by Massachusetts State Police and charged with disorderly conduct and assault and battery on a person over the age of 60. Sokolinsky was brought to the Brighton barracks, where he was booked and charged.