The Sid Jacobson JCC in East Hills was the venue of a rally both denouncing the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by the militant Palestinian group Hamas on the nation of Israel, and affirming their support for that country. Soon after the initial attack, Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza and nearby regions, and launched a wave of heavy shelling.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman was the lead speaker at the event. He also at a rally at Eisenhower Park. After the Oct. 6 attacks, Blakeman assured county residents that all necessary precations have been carried out, adding that all special units have been activated, including mounted police, the canine unit, aviation and emergency services, and the Bureau of Special Operations.
“We have assigned an additional 20 police cars to make sure that all religious institutions and Jewish neighborhoods are protected,” Blakeman said. “There are over 100 synagogues in Nassau County. There are yeshivas, and businesses. We will take appropriate action to make sure that they are secure.”
State and local politicians quickly and forcefully denounced not only the attack, but also a pro-Palestinian rally that took place in Times Square on Sunday, Oct. 8.
“The people of Israel are facing violent terrorist attacks and civilian kidnappings,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul in an Oct. 7 tweet. “I condemn plans to rally in Times Square tomorrow in support of the perpetrators of these horrific actions. The planned rally is abhorrent and morally repugnant.”
Earlier, Hochul issued a brief statement: “New York stands with Israel-today and every day,” while also posting images of Pennsylvania Station and the World Trade Center bathed in the Israeli colors.”
“I can’t think of anything more ill-timed and cold-hearted than today’s (Oct. 8) demonstration in Times Square,” added Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). “We’ve seen unprecedented viciousness coming from Hamas aimed at innocent families and children. Everyone—no matter your views—should condemn this brutal act.”
“I was briefed this evening by senior national security and State Department officials in the Biden administration,” Schumer said in his initial post. “The viciousness and brutality of this unprecedented attack from Hamas targeting innocent civilians—children, families, seniors—is overwhelming and heart wrenching.”
“I strongly condemn the unprovoked terrorist attack launched today by Hamas against Israel, including against civilians,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “I am horrified by the onslaught of rocket fire and the infiltration of armed terrorists into Israeli neighborhoods and by reports of killings, injuries and kidnappings. I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli people in this moment of tragedy. Throughout my career, I have worked with my colleagues to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars for Israel’s defensive systems and that work will be more critical than ever. The bond between our countries is unwavering and unbreakable and the U.S. stands ready and will remain in close contact with our Israeli partners.”
In addition to Blakeman, other local politicians expressed their outrage.
“This morning’s despicable sneak attack against the Israeli people is a war crime,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-North Shore). “The taking of hostages, murder of civilians, the use of torture, the beating and the killing and parading of captured soldiers are cruel and brutal throwbacks to medieval times. This abhorrent conduct must be condemned by all. We affirm and we will defend the Right of the Israeli people to self-defense. In the harshest of terms, we condemn those who have attacked our democratic ally.”
The attack took place on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. That fall, Israel was subject to an invasion on two fronts. Both Egypt and Syria coordinated the attacks which also took the Israeli by surprise. Israeli forces rebounded to beat back that invasion, but not before that nation suffered 2,500 casualties. The situation, during the first 48 hours, was so dire that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, with Prime Minister Golda Meir’s approval, outfitted Israeli bombers and missiles with nuclear weapons. As the Egyptian and Syrian forces began to retreat, the Soviet Union, which was aligned with both countries, sent warships into the Mediterranean Sea. The administration of Richard M. Nixon responded by placing American nuclear levels to DEFCON 3c alert, one button away from nuclear war.
The 2023 initial attack by Hamas on Israel occurred while some Israeli and foreign citizens were attending a trance-music festival near Kibbutz Re’im. As of this writing, more than 1200 Israeli soldiers and citizens have been killed, mostly in the initial attack, while more than 1400 have been killed in the Gaza strip. On October 12, Israeli authorities ordered more than 1,000,000 Palestinians to evacuate Gaza.