South Florida Sun Sentinel
JUL 08, 2020
Protesters attempted to block a truck that carried digital pro-Israel messages during a pro-Palestinian Day of Rage rally in Miami.
The Israel education organization StandWithUs, in cooperation with the Iranian American Jewish Federation, used truck ads to counter groups who had Day of Rage rallies and caravans earlier this month in Miami and six other cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Toronto. At these rallies, pro-Palestinian groups protested the Israeli government’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank.
The Miami rally started at the Torch of Friendship in Downtown where approximately 20 protesters surrounded the truck and blocked its passage. As they held signs that said “Abolish Borders” and chanted “Free, Free Palestine,“ SWU/Southeast’s associate director Max Adelstein and its high school coordinator Ahron Levin – who both drove to the rally in separate cars to adhere to social distancing guidelines – rushed to the truck from their cars to try to handle the situation.
"My grandfather is a Holocaust survivor, so as a Zionist I feel I should be part of any opportunity that I can to spread accurate messages about Israel and correct misinformation," Adelstein said. "The truck was a way to do this and still adhere to social distancing guidelines."
Adelstein continued, "I was dismayed, but not surprised, that the protesters did not want to dialogue; they simply wanted to promote their side and stifle other voices."
“Apparently, freedom of speech was only available to the Day of Rage people. No alternative points of view allowed.”
The messages on the truck included “Israelis Want Peace,” “Palestinian Leaders: Stop the Hate, Negotiate Peace,” ”Palestinian Leaders: Stop Teaching Hate & Rewarding Violence,” Palestinian Leaders Said No To Peace in 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008 and 2020?” and “Israel Needs A Partner For Peace.” Additionally, a video played continuously on one side that showed forms of terrorism that Palestinian leaders have promoted and executed.
“I lived in Israel for many years and witnessed what it represents, and now feel obligated to stand up and defend the Jewish state I care so much about when it is being attacked,” Levin said. “The protests were scheduled during the pandemic. However, we could not take a break because of it and therefore, needed to be there. The truck was a safe way of doing this.”
Levin continued, "Listening to these protesters, I realized once again how much propaganda and real lack of knowledge there is about Israel and about the situation."
“It is a clear sign of how much we need to educate, which is something I truly enjoy doing.”
The driver, concerned for the truck's safety, turned off the signs. He was then allowed to move on. The truck continued on its route throughout other areas in Miami sharing SWU-IAJF messages. The rally grew from 20-30 to 60-70 people who then marched to the Israeli Consulate of Miami a few blocks away.
The main organization behind many of the Day of Rage rallies was Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.
"I am proud of how Max and Ahron handled what could potentially have been a chaotic situation," said Sara Gold Rafel, executive director of SWU/Southeast. "Al-Awda and other hate groups that organized these rallies are dedicated to ending Israel's existence and promoting anti-Semitic propaganda."
Rafel continued, "While there is nothing wrong with having an open and vigorous debate about Israeli policies, that is not what this event was really about."
“We realized we had to take a proactive approach to educate that not only countered the lies but also highlighted the urgent need for Palestinian leaders to choose peace negotiations over hatred and violence. Utilizing the truck was a diplomatic way to avoid physical contact and keep to social distancing.”
Susan Azizzadeh, president of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, said, "StandWithUs and the Iranian American Jewish Federation are sending a message that we will not be silent when such groups try to spread hate in our communities."
According to al-awda.org, the organization says it aims to raise awareness in communities concerning the human and legal rights of Palestinian refugees, among other objectives. It calls for an end to all U.S. political, military and economic aid to Israel, the boycott of all Israeli products, the right to return for all Palestinian refugees to their original towns, villages and lands with compensation for damages inflicted on their property and lives and the formation of an independent, democratic state for all its citizens in all of Palestine, among other points of unity.
Al-Awda South Florida was contacted for comments, but did not respond.
Read the article here.