Rally in support of Israel and a negotiated peace solution
The very first pro-Israel rally to hit the streets of Santa Barbara! At the Jewish Federation building, January 13, 2009 during Operation Cast Lead and in opposition to international castigation of Israel’s right to defend her civilians from rocket attacks. Attendance: approximately 200.

The Santa Barbara Independent reported


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(Ben Preston, January 16, 2009):

Sponsored by the Israel Committee of Santa Barbara, Congregation B’nai B’rith, the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Anti Defamation League, the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, and the Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara, well over 100 people showed up at the candlelit vigil-held in the parking lot. Israeli

flags large and small were ubiquitous, and people held signs bearing such slogans as

“Israel, We Stand with You,” “Hamas: Jihad Kills,” and “Free Gaza from Hamas.” Various members of the clergy-including Reverend Mark Asman of Trinity Episcopal Church, Reverend Alan Strout of the First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer of the Community Shul, and Rabbi Steve Cohen of B’nai B’rith-stepped up on stage to offer prayers for Israelis and Palestinians affected by the violence, and to show support for Israel. “Light a candle for peace under the pressure of darkness,” said Strout.

While the overall message was one expressing hope for peace, event organizers who spoke were adamant that Israel needs to defend itself against rockets launched from Gaza. “What if people from Summerland-about the same distance as Gaza is from Sderot-started lobbing rockets at soccer fields, schools, and businesses [in Santa Barbara]?” asked Peter Melnick, chair of the Israel Committee. “If such vicious attacks were levied against Americans, it’s hard to imagine they’d be tolerated.” Melnick also responded to claims by opponents of Israel’s actions that the nation’s response to rocket attacks is disproportionate. “There is simply no equivalency between Hamas’s violence and Israel’s action to protect its citizens. The world holds Israel to a unique standard, expecting it to tolerate what no other nation can.” Other speakers included UCSB’s ASI president, Maya Liss, and Rabbi Gross-Schaefer’s son, Yoav, who is a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).