NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The violence in the Middle East is leading to stepped up security in New York, and some frayed nerves for those with family in Israel.
There are police officers on every corner near the Israeli Consulate on Second Avenue and in front of almost every Jewish temple across the city, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Friday.
But at the Town and Village Synagogue on East 14th Street, Rabbi Laurence Sebert said he isn’t worried the troubles in the Middle East will manifest in New York City.
“I feel confident in the security team that we have, the people that keep a good eye out for the building, and when things are tense they keep a closer watch,” Rabbi Sebert said.
Sebert said he’s keeping a close watch on the rockets hitting Israel — because his daughter, 22-year-old Aliza, is there working with a youth development program in Jerusalem.
On Friday, Hamas fired rockets towards the holy city for the first time. No one was injured.
“I’m a parent so I’m worried, but the truth of the matter is I also worry about my daughter when she crosses 14th Street down the block,” Sebert said.
At the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Noam Marans said that’s a common attitude — American Jews willing to share the danger in Israel as a show of solidarity.
“And one of the ways that we manifest that is by traveling to Israel, even when conditions are challenging — maybe even particularly when conditions are challenging,” Rabbi Marans said.
That’s the reason why Marans’ son, Aaron, won’t cancel plans to travel to Israel next month, his father said.
The government of Israel estimates there are 100,000 Americans living and studying in that country.
NEW YORK JEWS, ARABS HAVE RELATED FEARS
There are repercussions of the overseas violence here in New York, giving many people worry and concern, but also, in a very real way, it’s creating some common bonds between Jews and Arabs.
Yes, there are political differences — very real ones. Jews say the Israeli government is doing the only thing it can do in trying to stop the rocket attacks from Gaza.
“I feel Israel has the right to protect itself. They shot 10,000 rockets in the past eight years into Israel and Israel has the right to defend itself like any other country,” Nathan Aharon of Woodmere told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Palestinians have a far different view.
“It’s very bad, very bad. They should give the land back to the Palestinians. They are suffering. Just last night I saw a burned baby – very, very bad,” said Nasser Ooni of Park Slope.
But whether you are in the Diamond District in Manhattan, where many Jews and Israelis have businesses, or on the streets of Bay Ridge, where Arab businessmen ply their trade, there are common worries, common concerns and common fears.
“There’s no reason why so many people are killing each other,” one person said.
“It’s terrible. We want peace and that’s it,” added Avi Hauptman of Hillcrest, Queens. “A woman died yesterday, a mother of three. It’s very sad, for no reason for that to happen — not on our side, not on their side.”
“This can’t go on. Israel has to sit down on the same table with Arabs and get it resolved,” said Marwar Kasi of Bay Ridge.
“What I am concerned about, that it doesn’t get worse,” added Norman Weiss of Brooklyn.
“I would like to know if the United States would stay on the border of Canada or Mexico, which shoots so many rockets,” said Isaac Weiss of Flatbush.
There are also worries about Iran, and the implications of its decision to supply advanced weapons to the Palestinian militants in Gaza.
“I think Iran wants to escalate the situation because they have nuclear ambitions,” one person said.
And there are worries about the world economy.
“Oil is going to be a problem,” said one man from New Jersey.
But the biggest concern for Jews and Arabs is this:
“It’s very sad what’s going on. Eventually it’s going to spill over, the conflict will move all across the Middle East,” said Essa Masoud of Bay Ridge.
Meanwhile, in Congress on Friday both the House and Senate passed bipartisan resolutions supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.
PROTESTS REMAIN SPIRITED BUT SOMEWHAT SUBDUED
Protesters rallied for three hours Friday night, with both sides sending the same message: they want the violence to stop, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“I’m keeping in touch with all the families and all the friends and it’s very, very devastating. These people can’t sleep, can’t live, can’t have a regular life,” said Raja Abdulhaq of American Muslims for Palestine.
“Tonight, there were sirens in Jerusalem and when I talked to my mother and my sister they were shaking all around. She just froze and she couldn’t go to the shelter,” added pro-Israel protester Sharon Alon.
As rocket attacks in the Gaza Strip and throughout Israel intensify, they are letting their voices be heard outside the Israeli Consulate on Second Avenue.
There have been rallying cries for Palestine, but on Friday night there was a more subdued crowd supporting Israel.
“It’s a Shabbat evening, so most of the Jewish people are celebrating Shabbat. But I still think there should be a strong showing for Israel and its right to defend itself,” Alon said.
While Israeli troops are at the border preparing for a possible ground assault, people in New York City were begging for it all to end.
“We want peace talks to continue on. We want both sides to talk it out,” pro-Palestine protester Tawsif Choudhury said.
“Almost 40 percent of the population of Israel is living under rocket fire and we’re trying to prevent that from happening and we support the Israel government to try to bring peace,” Yaniv Yaron added.
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