LEFT: Eugene Greenstein and Kobi Erez. RIGHT: Scenes from the May 14 Rally for Israel
LEFT: Eugene Greenstein and Kobi Erez. RIGHT: Scenes from the May 14 Rally for Israel

In attendance was Eugene Greenstein, former ZOA-MI president, who hoped the rally expressed the local support for Israel.

More than 100 people attended a pro-Israel rally on the west side of Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield on Friday, May 14, to show support for Israel in its ongoing clash with Hamas. The event was helmed by the Zionist Organization of America’s Michigan Region. 

In attendance was Eugene Greenstein, former ZOA-MI president, who hoped the rally expressed the local support for Israel.

“We felt we needed to come out and say something and get some attention,” Greenstein said. “We think it’s important to make a statement. We care about Israel, we’re here to show support for Israel, and we shouldn’t be afraid to show this is something we believe in.”

Greenstein is concerned for what’s happening in the Middle East. “It’s very scary,” Greenstein said. “Every life is precious; it doesn’t matter if it’s Jewish or Arab.” 

Executive Director of ZOA-MI Kobi Erez led the rally and stood firm in his support of Israel.

“We are standing with our brothers and sisters in Israel, and we want to show our support and solidarity, that we are proud to be Jewish and have a strong connection to Israel,” Erez said. “We believe America should stand beside Israel as well.” 

Erez said another reason for the rally was due to “anti-Israel rhetoric all over the place.”

“It’s important for us to show Americans that we are proud of Israel, that Israel is America’s best friend and to show we believe in the morality of what Israel is doing. 

“We don’t want to stay silent to antisemitism or to hatred, and we urge everybody to support Israel in words and actions, and to reach out to Congress and reach out to your neighbors and friends,” Erez said. 

Shel Freilich of ZOA-MI, Rev. Tim Munger of Friends of Israel and Andre Douville of Walk for Israel contributed to the rally as well.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, attended the rally on a personal level. 

“I love that it’s such a positive rally,” Lopatin said. “It’s about peace, about love for Israel, and that’s exactly what we need. 

“I hope that on the other side, you could have pro-Palestinian peace. All of Israel should be about peace and love and, God willing, we’ll have an end to the hostilities.”   

The recent conflict began with clashes in eastern Jerusalem over expected legal Israeli Supreme Court evictions of six Palestinian tenant families from an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood and by restrictions of access to Palestinians on the Temple Mount after violent clashes broke out. 

Then, Hamas and other terrorists launched more than 4,000 unguided rockets at Israel from Gaza and encouraged the rioting by some Israeli Arabs. Israel followed with targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders in Gaza and bombardments of military targets, often intermingled in civilian areas. A ceasefire was reached on May 21.

The Health Ministry in the Gaza claimed 243 people had been killed since hostilities erupted on May 10, with 1,910 wounded. Hamas’ rocket fire killed 12 Israelis. Scores more have been injured. 

President Joe Biden spoke May 17 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing his support for a ceasefire, while also supporting Israel’s “right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.”