Carrying Israeli and American flags, singing and occasionally chanting "No more Scuds," about 500 people marched and rallied yesterday afternoon in Northwest Washington to show their support for Israel.
The group gathered in Lafayette Square, then walked north along Connecticut Avenue NW to the Israeli Embassy near Connecticut and Van Ness Street.
There, several speakers addressed the gathering, including Zalman Shoval, Israel's ambassador to the United States, who expressed his gratitude for the show of support.
The march and rally were the idea of Jeffrey Bases, a student at Georgetown University Law School who coordinated the demonstration along with area Jewish groups.
"The message is fairly simple," said Bases. "It's not about peace or war. We wanted to show our support for Israel."
Iris Chadab, 13, of Mount Vernon, said she came to the march "basically to back up Israel." Iris said she has relatives there and is worried that they might be hurt by Iraqi missiles.
"Israel's situation has always been precarious -- especially now," said Joshua Barwick, 30, of Gaithersburg, who said he also supports American intervention in the Persian Gulf. "The only thing worse than violence is to do nothing."
The singing, the presence of children and the pleasant, sunny weather gave the march a festive air. The marchers, who occupied one northbound lane of Connecticut Avenue, were escorted by District police.
Pedestrians along the march route stopped to watch the procession, and occasionally motorists honked their horns in support. But not all shared the marchers' views; near Woodley Road, one man held up a sheet of paper that read, "Free Palestine Now."
Still, most onlookers apparently approved of the gathering's intent. Near the entrance to the National Zoo, several people at a restaurant's outdoor table stood and broke into spontaneous applause as the marchers passed.
"The reason this is good is that American Jews are often apathetic," William Sandler, 29, of Washington, said as he watched. "It's good to see Jews coming out."