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Queens leaders support Israel

Queens politicians, Jewish community leaders and residents rallied in support of Israel and condemned Palestinian militant group Hamas last week at Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills.

“It’s important that our community come together to show our unequivocal support for Israel in its efforts to defend itself from these attacks and to cripple Hamas’ capability to perpetrate violence on the Israeli people,” said City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows), who hosted the Jan. 14 event attended by more than 150 area residents.

Borough lawmakers, including Gennaro, state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck), state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D−Fresh Meadows) and Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D−Forest Hills), were at the event and backed Israel’s invasion of Gaza that began Dec. 27. The fighting between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Israel has killed more than 1,200 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, according to the Associated Press.

Hamas and Israel announced a cease−fire over the weekend, with Hamas saying it would give Israeli troops one week to leave Gaza. While Israel has not officially agreed to the time limit, Israeli officials did say they plan to soon leave the area, the AP reported.

Many of the participants at last week’s rally assailed the American and foreign press, saying much of the media had aligned themselves with Hamas.

“In today’s age, the battleground is as much in the media as it is on the front lines,” said Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens. “Due to an anti−Semitism … the world had expressed its sympathies with the terrorists.”

Sayaf Rami, the youth coordinator for the Brooklyn−based Arab American Association of New York, said the thousands of people who have protested across the world against Israel do not support Hamas’ rocket launches against Israeli citizens, but rather condemn what he called disproportionate attacks against Palestinians.

“People in Gaza are being attacked left and right,” Rami said in an interview last week. “They can’t even go to sleep. The only thing on their minds is when the next attack is going to happen.”

Thousands of New Yorkers attended both pro−Israel and anti−Israel rallies over the course of the 22−day war.

“If Long Island had these rockets and they were shooting these rockets to Douglaston or Forest Hills, we would not show restraint, and the world would not be surprised when we went and took over Long Island,” Katz said at the rally. “I believe what Israel is doing is proportionate and the rest of the world should know that.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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