Thousands Rally at U.N. to Support Israel

The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 18, 2006; 12:09 AM

NEW YORK -- Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Jewish leaders and elected officials including Sens. Hillary Clinton and Frank Lautenberg rallied thousands of Israel supporters Monday as fighting continued in Lebanon between the Jewish state and the militant Islamic group Hezbollah.

"I want us here in New York to imagine if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?" said Clinton, D-N.Y. "We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing up for American values as well as Israeli ones."

The rally near the United Nations, one of several being held around the United States this week, was intended to support Israel during escalating Mideast violence. Organizers estimated the crowd at 10,000.

In Lebanon on Sunday and Monday, Israeli warplane attacks killed at least 17 people, while Hezbollah fired rockets that flew farther into Israel than ever before.

President Bush, meeting with other world leaders at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, has said that Israel has a right to defend itself.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders criticized what they saw as an overreaction by Israel that has caused dozens of civilian deaths and risked a major escalation of bloodshed in the Middle East.

At the rally, Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, said Israel is threatened "by two totalitarian movements, Hamas and Hezbollah, whose unique goal is to destroy the Jewish state."

"Israel defends herself," he said. "And we must say to Israel, 'Go on defending yourself.'"

© 2006 The Associated Press