Approximately 2,000 supporters of Israel turned out to a peaceful rally at Beverly Gardens Park, on Nov. 5, where Beverly Hills city and community leaders delivered words of solidarity with Israel while denouncing antisemitism.
“Our community is still in pain and the truth is we haven’t had an opportunity to mourn. We were forced to defend ourselves, our existence, our safety, immediately after these attacks. Let’s be clear: this is not about territory; this is about terrorism,” Beverly Hills City Councilmember Sharona Nazarian said, addressing the crowd behind a podium draped with an Israeli flag.
“Now is the time to unite, my friends,” Nazarian continued before describing Hamas’ recent attack against Israel as “one of the darkest days in Jewish history since the Holocaust.”
The Beverly Hills councilmember emphasized Beverly Hills’ strong support for Israel in the days and weeks following the Oct. 7 attack against Israel.
And of the estimated 240 hostages who were taken by Hamas, Nazarian said, “We demand to bring them home now,” prompting chants in the crowd of “Bring them home!”
The Sunday evening event, organized by pro-Israel groups StandWithUs and the Israeli American Council, was billed as an “Israel-USA alliance rally.” It was held approximately one month after terrorist organization Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, massacred more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and soldiers during a raid on southern Israeli villages. In retaliation, Israel declared war on Hamas, responding with air strikes and ground troops targeting Hamas in Gaza. Hamas claims more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s attacks, but the figures haven’t been independently confirmed.
Israel’s actions have drawn both strong support and intense criticism, with both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies taking place regularly across the world. At the Beverly Hills rally, an attendee noted the lack of hateful rhetoric against the Palestinian community despite people’s passionate feelings.
“If you look at the pro-Israel rallies, including this one, they’ve been focused on community support for Israel,” the attendee, George, who declined to give his last name, said. “The so-called pro-Palestinian demonstrations, meanwhile, have featured rampant antisemitism.”
The attendee was one of many people trying to make sense of the volatile circumstances in the region.
“Former President Obama bears some responsibility, specifically the growing influence of Iran,” he said. “For eight years Obama appeased Iran, allowing Iran to strengthen its support for its proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.”
Additional speakers included Miya, who was wrapped in an Israeli flag as she spoke of her connection to Israel. She declined for her last name to be published.
“We have the right to defend ourselves,” she said. “As a proud Jew and Zionist, I’ve never celebrated the death of Palestinians, even terrorists with genocidal intentions. Instead, I hurt that they were taught to have a deep hatred for me and my people.”
“It is of utmost importance that at times like these we embrace our Jewish identity, stand united as a community and remember where we came from,” Miya said.
Miya was speaking on behalf of Club Z, an organization dedicated to raising teenagers into informed, modern-day Zionists. She’s a Club Z teen and high schooler.
As the rally unfolded from 4-7 p.m., Beverly Hills Police Department officers were on the scene. A cacophony of car horns rang in the air as attendees chanted “Am Yisrael Chai” while carrying signs reading, “Never Again is Now,” a reference to a phrase popularized in the aftermath of the Holocaust to never again allow a genocide against the Jews.
Attendees included Russ Stuart, owner of Beverly Hills Guns, a licensed firearms dealer and broker. The business has been inundated with inquiries from the Jewish community regarding firearm ownership as antisemitic incidents throughout the country have been on the rise, he said.
“People are terrified,” Stuart told the Courier.
The event was one of several in Beverly Hills to express solidarity with Israel. On the same evening, Nov. 5, a shloshim (Hebrew for “30”) ceremony at Young Israel of North Beverly Hills marked the conclusion of the 30-day mourning period following last month’s killing of innocent Israelis.
Elise Steinberg, director of political affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, spoke at the Beverly Hills synagogue about the important role Israel plays in the continuity of Jewish peoplehood and the unique responsibility of younger generations.
“It is our generation’s turn to defend our freedom and our land, to defend our anthem,” she said, referring to “Hatikvah,” the State of Israel’s national anthem, which is Hebrew for “hope.”