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Hot but not bothered: pro-Israel demo stops traffic

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Amid 16:00 traffic and loadshedding leaving traffic lights not operational, we stood on the corner of Atholl Oaklands and Corlett Drive in Johannesburg, calling on passersby to condemn Hamas and help release Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

It was a heatwave, but we, the members of the Johannesburg Jewish community, stood peacefully brandishing our Israeli flags and placards on all four corners of the intersection. Our placards spoke for themselves: “Free Gaza from Hamas”, “Israel wants peace, Hamas wants war”, “Stop supporting Hamas terror”, and “Hamas = Al Qaeda = Hezbollah”.

No matter how hot and bothered, the group, led by the South African Zionist Federation and South African Friends of Israel, was steadfast in its reason for being there and showing pride.

There wasn’t a moment’s silence for the entire hour that we were there as we sang songs of hope and shouted “Am Yisrael Chai!” and “Bring Them Home!” The small group started as strangers, but at the end of the hour, there was a sense of unity. People were chatting as if they had known each other for years and had not just met that afternoon.

The reaction from the public was positive. We had been warned before heading to the intersection that some people wouldn’t react positively and that we should try our best not to engage with the negativity. But, while standing there in the thick of afternoon traffic, we were met with people hooting en masse in support of Israel.

Instead of the usual end-of-day traffic frustration, there seemed to be an excitement at seeing us standing up for what we believe.

There were a few negative reactions, with one or two people yelling from their cars, “Free Palestine!” and showing us the middle finger or pulling out the occasional Palestinian flag, but these were far outweighed by the positive ones.

Drivers were keen to show their support of Israel, and took flags and waved them from their cars.

I was immensely proud to stand up for something I believe in with a community that I’m proud to be a part of.

  • Lee Tankle is an intern at the SA Jewish Report.

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