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CRISIS IN THE MIDEAST

15,000 in Manhattan Show Their Anger at Palestinians

October 13, 2000|JOSH GETLIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — In an angry and emotional show of support for Israel, more than 15,000 people filled six blocks of midtown Manhattan on Thursday for a noon rally protesting Palestinian violence and the lynching of Israeli soldiers.

The noisy gathering, which featured some of the biggest names in New York politics--including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Rick Lazio, who are battling for a U.S. Senate seat--was one of about 30 rallies that had been previously scheduled for American cities, including Los Angeles.

"Those of us who reject hatred and fanaticism . . . finally recognize Yasser Arafat for what he is--ignorant, devious and unworthy of trust," said Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel. "It is with a heavy heart that we say our dreams of peace have gone up in the smoke of ransacked synagogues, in the lynching of Israeli prisoners, and [in] bloodthirsty mobs shouting their vision of a Jerusalem without Jews."

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani set the tone for the event when he urged the White House to "redirect" its policy in the Middle East, saying: "The peace process is vital, but it will never work if you engage in the fiction that there is a moral equivalent between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the state of Israel. There is not."

Many in the crowd voiced outrage over President Clinton's decision to abstain from vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution Saturday that condemned Israel's crackdown on Palestinian violence but ignored Palestinian actions. Those feelings erupted into boos when Mrs. Clinton began to speak.

"I reject the Security Council's one-sided condemnation of Israel," she said, raising her voice to be heard above a raucous chant of "Tell your husband! Tell your husband!"

She got only lukewarm applause and left without thanking the crowd or sponsors of the rally, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. Lazio, however, got strong applause when he criticized the White House action on the U.N. resolution.

In the Southland, about 500 people attended a rally for peace Thursday night at the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills.

The rally was organized to show support for resuming peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"We have watched with a tremendous amount of concern regarding the deterioration of what's going on in the Middle East," said John Fishel, president of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles.

*

Times special correspondent Greg Risling in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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