Long Island rallies for release of Israeli hostages six months after attack

Long Island rallies for release of Israeli hostages six months after attack
Hundreds of Long Islanders rallied Sunday for the release of Israeli hostages. (Photo courtesy of the Sid Jacobson JCC)

More than 500 Long Islanders marched for a mile and a half Sunday, six months after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, to demand the release of 133 Israeli hostages still being held captive by the terrorist organization.

“On this six-month mark, we must not relent or become complacent in our solidarity with hundreds of families who wait every day for their loved ones to return,” said David Black, executive director of the Sid Jacobson JCC.

The rally, held in Plainview Sunday, was organized by the Long Island Supports Israel Coalition, a conglomerate of 17 Long Island Jewish organizations formed in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas upon Israeli citizens.

Daniel Lifshitz, the grandson of two Israeli hostages, joined the march. Both his grandparents were kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7 and his grandmother was released later in the month. His grandfather remains in their captivity.

Lifshitz said he has found a family in the Long Island community as they support him through this challenging moment in his life.

“Here I stand half a year later still unable to believe that my grandfather is still there,” Lifshitz said, just a month before his grandfather’s 84th birthday. “My grandfather always believed that there is hope. I take his hope and see him returning with us.”

Marchers were seen waving and wearing Israeli flags, sometimes in tandem with the American flag as well. Others carried signs displaying hostages’ faces, including Plainview’s Omer Neutra, 22, who was serving as a tank commander in the Israel Defense Force near Gaza when he was abducted by Hamas.

“The world changed forever for Jews around the world on Oct. 7, and we stand with our friends in Israel to call for the release of those still in brutal and horrendous captivity,” Black said.

The purpose of the coalition is to foster a strong and united Jewish community, banding together in their support of Israel, combatting antisemitism and working proactively in addressing issues affecting the Jewish community.

Many speakers representing organizations within the coalition spoke to the need for such leadership in the Jewish community to call for the release of the hostages and confront rising reports of antisemitism.

“This coalition beautifully represents the unity and strength so needed to blaze ahead in partnership to fight Jew hatred and support our Long Island community,” said Michelle Ahdoot, director of Programming and Strategy for End Jew Hatred.

Organizations involved in the coalition include AIPAC, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, #EndJewHatred, Friends of the IDF, Sid Jacobson JCC, Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF), Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs and UJA Federation of New York.

“The Long Island Jewish community is united now more than ever. Six months into a war that Israel didn’t start, and didn’t want, we gather in mass to demand the return of the hostages, including our neighbor Omer Neutra,” said Eric Post, AJC Long Island Regional director. “We will continue to work day and night to stand with Israel and for our collective security.”

Present at the rally were individuals from across Long Island, including people with loved ones being held hostage, local officials and religious leaders.

“We appreciate all who came out today to walk with us and call for the safe return of the hostages and will work with others in our coalition to ensure we don’t have to do this again to mark another sad milestone,” Black said.

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