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1,700 Rally for Israel at West L.A. Synagogue

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

As gloom deepened over the Middle East, about 1,700 people gathered at a West Los Angeles synagogue Monday night in support of Israel and the United States’ efforts to broker peace.

The rally at Sinai Temple was among the largest of a series at synagogues across Los Angeles, home to the second-largest Jewish population in the nation. They were called as escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians has claimed more than 100 lives in recent weeks.

Speakers included the consul general of Israel, Yuval Rotem, who received loud applause when he said: “Hear me well. We cannot, and will not, cave in to intimidation and murder. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority once again believe that they can accomplish their goals through bloodshed.”

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The “challenge has reached Jewish communities in Paris, Berlin and Chicago,” he added. “It affects Jews in Los Angeles, Moscow and Tel-Aviv. In short, every single one of us has a mission and a role to play in this crisis.”

Among those in the audience was businessman and mayoral candidate Steve Soboroff.

“This is not just a crisis for the Middle East,” he said. “Our message for the world, and for every nook and cranny in Los Angeles, is this: We must stop terrorism.”

Audience member Chana Givon, an author and former Los Angeles schools literacy teacher, said: “Only by keeping Israel strong can the [factions in the Middle East] be kept in abeyance; you have to be strong in order for people to respect you.”

Michael Hirschfeld, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of The Jewish Federation, said: “We are a very sad people right now, as Jews and as Americans.

“I have no idea what will happen,” he said. “All I can do is pray, and urge my country to exert its greatest influence to ease tensions and bring all concerned parties back to the negotiating tables.”

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