It was a cold evening, the coldest one so far in this autumn season. It was a moment of darkness and light in Times Square – one which mirrored the current times of conflict in the Land of Israel. As hundreds of supporters of Israel converged upon Times Square for the second rally within a week organized by the ad hoc grass roots group “# Zero ‘Tolerance’ for Terrorism”, one block away, supporters of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas had gathered one hour earlier to express their animus towards the Jewish State. They chanted slogans as, “From the River (Jordan) to the Sea, (Mediterranean) Palestine will soon be free,” and “We Want 48,” implying that there should be another war of attempted extermination against Israel as there was after its founding in 1948.
As the pro – Israel rally had begun, so did their chants, “Stop the Terror, Stop the Hate, Israel is a peaceful State”, and “Am Yisrael Chai” (The People of Israel Lives). Israeli singer Ron Eliran performed some of the songs he has been singing for decades evoking love for the Land and State of Israel. In one song by Eliran, from the words of Rabbi Nachman from Breslau, “The whole world is a narrow bridge and the essence is not to fear.” He also sang the less heard in recent times but famous ‘Hava Nagilah” “Let us Rejoice” Oh, how Jews can sing songs of joy clebrating life and a Jewish homeland even during times of travail and suffering!
The Pro-Palestinians soon left their event and converged upon the pro-Israel rally with the intent to disrupt it. They arrived in one noisy wave, separated by the width of one narrow street and only two police barricades. They held their signs high, “We do not recognize Israel” and “With soul and blood, we will redeem you Palestine,” as they shouted epitaphs against the Jewish state. There is not the political talk of compromise. No mention was made of peace or of the establishment of a PLO State in pre 1967 borders. It is a protest against the existence if Israel. There were also banners with the usual accusations of genocide of Palestinians and calls to end US aid to Israel. One banner with such a theme was held by a group calling itself the Jewish Voice for Peace.” In every generation there are groups of fools and those who are deluded among the Jews. Israel supporters at the back of the rally, heard the commotion, turned around and faced their accusers with their own chants.
After about fifteen minutes, the Palestinians and their supporters were forced by the police to move on and the Israel supporters, some with their faces painted blue and white, returned to their rally. The darkness of evening was approaching, visibility decreased, and the mood ebbed. Soon the lights of Times Square alight illuminating the entire block and the spirits of the Israel crowd rose. The music continued, and the dancing began along with the chants of “Am Yisrael Chai,” and “Israel Forever.” The next few hours carried that message of Jewish hope in the face of challenge and adversity that was so apparent in Times Square that evening.
The demonstrators heard the voices of the haters of Zion and returned to their rally to proclaim that Israel has every right to exist. As the lights which illuminated the darkness of night in Times Square, so too the voices of Israel’s supporters illuminated the darkness of hatred which filled Times Square that evening.