Miami Beach

Pro-Israel rally draws hundreds of attendants

People gather for the ‘Never Again’ rally, an event held to call attention to anti-Semitic incidents across the world on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach.
People gather for the ‘Never Again’ rally, an event held to call attention to anti-Semitic incidents across the world on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Hundreds gathered under roiling clouds and a gray sky on Sunday afternoon for “Never Again,” a rally held to call attention to anti-Semitic incidents across the world and commemorate the 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the November 1938 attack by the German Reich on Jewish people, homes and businesses.

Seventy-eight local organizations, like the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and South Florida Pastors Network, sponsored the rally, which took place at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach.

Speakers included Norman Braman, a past president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation; Holocaust Memorial chair Andrew Hall; and U.S. Sens Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

In his speech, Braman, a co-chair of the Holocaust Memorial, decried the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, calling it “a cover for anti-Semitism.” The movement, according to its website, seeks to, among other things, “spread the culture of boycott as a central form of civil resistance to Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid.”

Rubio, whose ascent to the stage was welcomed with thunderous applause, denounced the Palestinian-led movement, too, and criticized American political leaders’ inaction on the issue.

“We must name and shame those who are responsible [for anti-Semitic and terrorist acts],” he said. “When we fail to do so, we threaten Israel.”

Sen. Bill Nelson, whose talking points also included the BDS movement, was not as well-received as his Republican colleague. Several audience members booed and yelled words like “traitor” and “liar” while Nelson was at the lectern.

Martin Karp, a member of the Miami-Dade County School Board, said Nelson should not have been featured in the rally, stating that the Democratic senator’s vote in favor of the contentious Iran nuclear deal “gives a conflicting view.”

Igal Haddad, a 62-year-old Miami businessman and former soldier of the Israel Defense Forces, agreed with Karp and was among those who jeered at Nelson.

“I don’t understand why they invited him,” Haddad said. “He’s just concerned with his political future. Israel, on the other hand, can’t gamble with the future. After 67 years, Israel still has to fight for survival.”

“It’s a farce to say ‘Never Again’ and bring this guy who (with his vote for the Iran nuclear deal) is saying ‘again, again, again.’ 

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