You never know where the conversation will go when you get four friends together for bagels and coffee, but you can bet that today, in the midst of such global turmoil, Israel is a topic that pops up among your top 10.
Wednesday’s march for Israel was the result of one such conversation which touched off plans for the non-political Palm Beach Gardens event that invited people to show public support for America’s long- time allies. Representatives from both the Jewish and Christian communities were present to say a few words before the walk began. A little more than 50 participated in the short walk from Christ Fellowship Church on Northlake Boulevard to the fire station, where most stopped to pay respects at the 9-11 memorial recently installed out front.
Mel Grossman, one of the four Jewish residents who organized the event, described some of his frustrations in trying to make it official. He was told that he had to get seven different permits to hold the march in the Palm Beach Gardens area near Abacoa, where it was originally planned. Town Council members and clergy from local churches and synagogues opposed the cause for fear that it would become a political rally. Some questioned Grossman’s ties to the tea party, and his personal motivations. Without cooperation, Grossman feared he would have to cancel the event since there was no parking and nowhere to walk without those expensive permits.
But a peaceful resolution arose from religious unity. About a week prior to the event, the pastor of the super-sized Christ Fellowship Church and his team offered the church campus to help avoid the insurmountable difficulties Grossman was facing. While the associate pastor, Don Bray, did not want to be interviewed or take any responsibility for the evening’s activities, it is clear that former Senior Pastor Tom Mullins’ strong support of Israel had something to do with the show of unity. Mullins, a Christian, is currently in Israel with Glenn Beck, the conservative talk show icon, for a worldwide plea to support the people and the country America has always cherished as an ally.
Luis Fleischman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of West Palm Beach, was eager to share his position on the plight of Israel and the Palestinian conflict at Wednesday’s march. His position is different than most evangelicals, who believe, due to Biblical teaching, that the people of Israel should take the promised land.
Fleischman says, “The organized Jewish community and the governments of Israel, in the last two decades, have supported a two state solution, and the Palestinians have been offered generous concessions, including a division of Jerusalem. They have rejected this three times and resorted to an international war of propaganda against Israel. We support the principles of a two state solution.”
The crowd kept the event non-political, as promised, and many motorists who passed the marchers responded in a positive manner by honking, waving, and even stopping to chat. Still, a certain pall hung in the air. Some participants expressed disappointment with the apathy displayed in the lack of public participation, while others blamed the sparse crowd on the problems in organizing the event and arranging an adequate location.
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