By: Fern Sidman
Chants of "Not One Inch" could be heard in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, September 28th, as members of Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI) joined forces with members of the Lubavitch movement representing the World Committee for the Land of Israel in a spirited demonstration of support for the abrogation of the moratorium on settlement building throughout Judea and Samaria that had been in effect for the last 10 months.
Over 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli consulate on East 42nd Street and Second Avenue, holding aloft signs saying, "No Freeze, No Appease, Bibi Stay Strong", "Build !! Don't destroy Jewish homes and synagogues", "The Land of Israel belongs to G-d: Do Not Relinquish it" and "Jerusalem, Hebron, Golan, Judea and Samaria: Ours Forever".
Helen Freedman, executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel told the crowd, "We are here today to celebrate the renewal of building in Israel. We congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu for resisting the pressure from President Obama and Mahmoud Abbas to extend the construction freeze in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. We must call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to remember that nations rise and fall, but the Jewish people have maintained their right to the entire land of Israel for 4000 years."
Interspersed during the litany of speakers, Lubavitch members led the demonstrators in an emotional recitation of several perakim (chapters) of Tehillim; while beseeching Hashem's mercy and protection for the Jewish people and the land of Israel. The male and female demonstrators were separated by a mechitza and young men from Lubavitch carried their sets of the "Arba Minim", exhorting Jewish passersby to recite the brocha "al netilas lulav" while holding them.
Among the speakers were Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation B'nai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights, Rabbi Weinberg from Kansas City, Dr. Michoel Friend from 770 Chabad - co-organizer of demonstration, Janet Lehr (who blogs Israel Lives), Evelyn Haies, president of Rachel's Children Reclamation Foundation, Ezra Zareh, an attorney from Merrick, NY and Robin Ticker representing Jewish women of Lubavitch.
"We are here today to publicize and advocate for the adoption of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's platform of staunch opposition to the relinquishing of any part of Eretz Yisroel", said Michoel Friend of the World Committee for the Land of Israel. "This position is predicated on halacha and giving away parts of Israel leads to the tragic loss of life and thus is halachically prohibited", he continued. "What has lead our Jewish leaders to even contemplate the notion of doing this? It is the galus mentality that makes them think that they can curry favor with the non-Jewish world by giving away the land that G-d promised to His people for eternity. We must take our leaders and our rabbis to task for having neglected to stand up and cite halacha in support of Israel", he intoned.
"A safe Israel means a safe America", said Ezra Zareh, a New York attorney. "There is no Palestine and there never was one. The land of Israel was bequeathed to the Jewish nation by the G-d of Israel and we need only turn to our holy Torah for proof of that. Pharoah is gone, Haman is gone, the Romans and the Greeks are gone, Hitler is gone and Israel will exist for eternity. Let's make no mistake about it. All of the territories in Israel belong to the Jewish people and we must always remember that", he said.
"Our mother Rochel is the role model for the entire world", declared Evelyn Haies of the Rachel's Children Reclamation Foundation. "Rochel Imenu lifted her voice for her people and cried bitter tears for the precious land of Israel and in her merit we were returned to our land. We have no right to hand it over to our sworn enemies who seek our destruction. We have no right to impose any freeze on the building of Jewish communities anywhere in Israel and especially in Judea and Samaria. We are here to stay and we too must raise our voices and shed tears for our land and for our people, for Hashem listens to our prayers and sees our broken hearts and because of that we will merit to be redeemed", she said.
"We bring peace and prosperity to all of mankind by scrupulously observing all of G-d's commandments" said Robin Ticker. "That is the way we bring kedusha to the land of Israel and it was through the righteous deeds of Jewish women that we have been saved throughout the millenium. It is G-d who decides who inherits that land of Israel and it is through our nation that we will be a beacon of light to the entire world."
Helen Freedman of AFSI concluded by saying, "During the holiday of Sukkot, when we live and eat in fragile booths to commemorate the exodus from Egypt and the embrace of freedom in the promised land, let us speak with one strong voice in support of our beloved inheritance. It's time for us to say -- "here I am" -- when asked by G-d, "where are you?"
Other organizations participating in the demonstration were the Jewish Political Education Foundation, the Crown Heights Committee for Shlaymus HaAretz, Rabbonim of Crown Heights, the Zionist Organization of America and Chabad of Flatbush.