As the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah continues to dominate news headlines for the three and a half weeks since it began, yesterday in Clearwater a group of Jews and supporters of Israel marched to show solidarity with the Jewish state. As WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales reports, the feelings ran high as many spoke of the war against terror and the importance of Israel in the Middle East.

NAT SOUND: march song (bed)

On this hot and sticky Sunday afternoon, around 200 people of all ages met at Congregation Beth Shalom on Belcher Road in Clearwater to march less than a mile down the street to Temple B’nai Israel. Once inside this reformist temple, they would be met by over 400 more people to sing, pray and rally for one cause: the survival of Israel.


NAT SOUND: song girl

More than 600 supporters filled Temple B’Nai to pray and sing. Included among them were Congressmen Bill Young and Mike Bilirakis, his son and state representative Gus Bilirakis and his opponent in the race to fill his father’s congressional seat, Phyllis Busansky a Jewess herself.

Rabbis and organizers encouraged those in attendance to extend financial support by buying Israel bonds, issued by the Jewish state to fund domestic projects and no doubt at this time of conflict to bolster the Israeli war chest.

And make no mistake, Israel is at war, keynote speaker Raanan Gissen told the audience. As a former member of the Israel Defense Force and a former senior advisor and spokesman for Ariel Sharon, Gissen takes a hard line.

Common principles unite the US and Israel, which is an oasis of Western values in the Middle East, said Gissen, adopting a bit of American history to create his own.

ACT: There is one shining example that there is one nation out there… that whole nation … are fighting to make life liberty and the pursuit of happiness the true determining values for all mankind.

And this is not just any war.

ACT: This is World War III, Phase 3

Gissen told the audience that the Muslims in the Middle East will try to wipe Israel from the map.

ACT: Lebanon is the testing ground for Phase 3 of World War III… in order to clear the slate, in order to clear Western civilization…

And Gissen believes that the dark hand of one country in particular pulls the strings of Hezbollah in the war against Israel.

ACT: the sinister forces of Iran…

NAT SOUND: names

At the time of yesterday’s rally, 95 Israeli soldiers and civilians had died since July 12, when the battle against Hezbollah started. Rabbi Michael Torop read their names…

The politicos in attendance threw their full support behind the Isreali cause.

US Representative Bill Young:

ACT: The people of Israel have the right to protect themselves from guns and bombs…

And, candidate for US House District 9 seat Phyllis Busansky

ACT: Israel is a pacifist nation. It is a sliver of land…

Yesterday as the supporters marched and rallied around war cries, Hezbollah launched its deadliest rocket attack against Israel, killing 15 Israelis, including a dozen army reservists. So far, 95 Israeli have died, most of them soldiers.

During an Isreali air strike yesterday, 19 Lebanese civilians died, and the Lebanese health minister told Reuters today that so far 925 Lebanese people have died in the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, one-third of them under the age of 13.


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