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Pro-Israelis demonstrate in SF

Daily Planet Wire Service
Monday April 15, 2002

Jewish Community Federation march numbers 5,000 


SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco police estimate more than 5,000 people sympathetic to the Israeli plight gathered in San Francisco this afternoon for a rally at Justin Herman Plaza. 

According to Yitzhak Santis, of the Jewish Community Relations Council, today's rally was the largest in the Bay Area in several years. More than 2,500 Russian Jews, who were already rallying in Golden Gate Park, along with 11 busloads of people from the Peninsula and two from Marin County joined thousands of others who had gathered earlier at the plaza. 

Hundreds of Israeli and American flags whipped in the brisk wind that blew along The Embarcadero, the site of the rally sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation, and a plane dragged a banner that said, “Israel We Support You.”Security was very tight with a heavy police presence, but there were no signs of conflict. 

Gina Waldman, whose Jewish family was run out of Libya, told the crowd that Palestinian leaders have not done enough to bring their own people out of poverty. As a mother, Waldman said she sympathizes with Palestinian women who want their children to grow up in prosperity but she decried them for condoning violence. 

“I would never send my children on a suicide mission,” she said. 

Many of the speakers condemned the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State University for not taking a more aggressive stance in favor of a Jewish state and the crowd responded with hearty boos. 

Still, there were very few outwardly harsh words for Palestinians or their leader Yasser Arafat. Instead, most people said they wanted peace for everyone living in the Middle East -- Palestinians, Jews and Arabs alike. 

Yossi Amrani, Consul General of Israel in San Francisco, said afterward that, as an Israeli citizen, he had not seen anything like this in the Bay Area.