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Orange County

Hundreds Rally in Support of Israel

April 15, 2002|DAVID REYES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hundreds of Jews and Christians lined Bristol Street near Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza on Sunday for a pro-Israel rally stirred by the recent wave of violence in the Middle East.

The demonstrators proudly waved blue-and-white Israeli flags and hundreds of pro-Israel or anti-Palestinian signs during the afternoon event, which was sponsored by the Jewish Federation and other major Jewish organizations.

Police and security personnel were out in force, although the rally was ''orderly and peaceful,'' said Sgt. Frank Rudisill, who estimated the crowd at more than 500. Demonstrators, however, believed their ranks were twice that figure.

Ana Faitlowicz, a physician from Huntington Beach, joined demonstrators with her friend, Greg Silvers of Los Alamitos. Together, they walked along the sidewalk shouting anti-Yasser Arafat slogans and carrying flags and signs.

''I'm here to support Israel and for our country to support Israel,'' said Faitlowicz, a Jew and native of South America, whose pro-Israel sign was in Spanish.

Silvers, who carried a U.S. flag, said he joined his friend because he felt compassion for Israel and Israelis. If people in the United States could live as Israelis in Israel, then they would understand ''what these people are going through on a daily basis,'' Silvers said. ''These people could die at any moment.''

Jewish organizations nationwide have stepped up activities to promote the pro-Israel side of the Mideast conflict. Organizers of the Costa Mesa rally said they are taking their message to the streets to influence public opinion.

About 1,000 supporters of Israel also demonstrated Sunday in Manhattan. A pro-Israel rally is scheduled in Washington today.

Christopher Lopez, 12, came to the Orange County rally with his grandmother, Irene Lopez of Orange, a Christian from Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, who said she joined the demonstrators for a spiritual reason. ''The land belongs to the Jews because the Lord said they're the chosen ones,'' she said.

Her grandson agreed.

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