Senator Clinton: All Americans are standing behind Israel

By Shlomo Shamir

Haaretz

Tamuz 22, 5766

Speaking at a large demonstration in support of Israel in Manhattan on Monday, United States Senator Hillary Clinton expressed unreserved support for Israel and commended President George Bush for his stance in the present crisis.

Clinton said on Monday that all Americans, whether Democrats or Republicans, stood behind Israel at this time.

The demonstration, which drew an estimated 5,000 people, was described as one of the largest Jewish events in recent years.

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel also spoke at the gathering, which ended in a call to free the captured soldiers.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people, many of them holding Lebanese flags, marched Monday night in Rome to protest the escalation of fighting in the Middle East, while a few blocks away, a rally near the capital's main synagogue was organized to show support for Israel.

Shortly after sunset, the marchers set out from near Piazza Venezia and lit candles as they headed toward the Colosseum.

Italian communist parties, pacifist groups and other organizations participated in the march.

"It is a complicated situation," said Otello Coccia, a 21-year-old university student in the march. "I think the solution would be to help the Palestinian people and favor coexistence between the Israeli people and Palestinians."

Wrapped in a U.S. flag was marcher Patrick Boylan, a Los Angeles native who teaches English in Rome. "We want to stop all the aggression and all the retaliation," Boylan said. "I would not get into who started this, but they need to stop the conflict."

A five-minute stroll away from Piazza Venezia was the gathering point for a rally later Monday night along the Tiber, outside the synagogue, organized by the tiny Jewish community in Italy to show solidarity for Israel.

Hezbollah guerrillas crossed from Lebanon into Israel last week and snatched two Israeli soldiers, prompting Israel to launch the most intensive offensive against the country since 1982. Israel has bombarded Lebanon's airport and main roads, while Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel.

"What we must hope for is that the causes of this conflict are eliminated," Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, told Sky TG24 news in an interview. "The events of these days are very painful, also because they involve civilian populations in a heavy way."

He said the gathering was called to rally Italian and European opinion in favor of "guaranteeing the security of Israel."