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Area residents rally in support of Israel
Emphasis on importance of US relationship with 'biggest ally' in Middle East
Dozens gather in Poultry Park Wednesday afternoon for the “Stand with Israel in Gainesville” rally. The event was formed to demonstrate support for the people of Israel.

They held signs, waved American and Israeli flags and even beckoned the Bible, all in support of Israel.

While the conservative Christian commentator Glenn Beck hosted a rally in Jerusalem, residents of Gainesville and surrounding areas showed their support as well Wednesday in a rally at Poultry Park in downtown Gainesville.

Grassroots Friends of Israel, North Georgia 912 and Hall County Prayer Network all gathered to "Stand with Israel in Gainesville."

Betsi Burgess, who helped organize the event, said Israel is in need of support in a time of conflict and revolution in the Middle East.

"There are thousands of events around the world today where Israel is being lifted up in prayer and support because of the many challenges that she faces as a nation state in the Middle East where there is a great deal of tension."

Those in attendance encouraged President Barack Obama's administration to offer assistance to Israel.

"We as Americans, we as Jews and Christians together support Israel and have from the very beginning of the state of Israel," Burgess said.

To show that support, the event featured several speakers, including Al Gainey from WDUN Gainesville, Rabbi Scott Sekulow and David Weiken, who delivered a message from U.S. Rep. Tom Graves.

Sekulow said the U.S. must show support for Israel to calm the tension in the Middle East.

"We need to stand with Israel, which is our number one ally in the Middle East, and literally with countries falling left and right, Israel has always been that centerpiece that we need to keep peace in that area," Sekulow said.

Patrick O'Connor of Buford displayed his patriotism by sporting an American flag shirt and waving at passing motorists. He agreed the U.S. must continue to support Israel to sustain a close relationship.

"They're our biggest ally in that area and we need to give them all the support we can whether it's financial or whatever," he said.

With the recent revolutionary events in the Middle East, including the ousting of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the attempt of Libyan rebels to seize control from Moammar Gadhafi's regime, many supporters on hand questioned Obama's handling of those situations.

"Our government has kind of been wavering back and forth on their stance, and I think they need to know how we stand with Israel," Sekulow said.

Betty Swernofsky of Duluth said she was not in support of Obama's stance on both Mubarak's and Gadhafi's control.

Earlier this year Obama called for Mubarak to step down to make way for a new political structure, and as the situation in Libya continues to unfold, Obama maintains his assertion that Gadhafi must relinquish his power.

"I think that overthrowing Mubarak was very dangerous because (Egypt) had peace with Israel for many years and now that he's gone they've dissolved that peace accord," she said.

Jean White of Oakwood said she was not pleased with Obama's treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the U.S. in May.

"When Netanyahu came over I don't think the president of the United States should keep him waiting for about three hours just being totally disrespectful," White said. "That's one thing that we don't need is to disrespect Israel because then when Israel falls we're all going to hell."

Burgess ensured Israelis they have the support of the U.S. and vowed to continue that support.

"You are not alone," she said. "We are standing with you."


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