A dozen speakers–including elected officials, Jewish and Christian religious leaders, and local radio personalities—fired up a crowd of more than 1,500 at the state capital in a show of support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
Among the speakers were a slew of top Republicans: gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, Rep. Mike Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, state Rep. Frank McNulty, and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler. Rep. Doug Lamborn wasn’t able to attend, but sent an email of support.
On the Democratic side, there was one speaker: state Rep. Rhonda Fields.
One reason Democratic officials may have decided to skip the event is that Israel has become tricky for them politically. President Obama has called for an “immediate, unconditional, humanitarian ceasefire,” but many Jews, including those attending the rally, want to see Israel defeat Hamas.
The crowd roared when former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman, who hosted the rally, shouted, “Let Israel win!”
Rally-goers waved Israeli and U.S. flags, shook tambourines and held up signs with messages like, “Peace Thru Victory” and “Stop Using Gaza as a Launching Pad.”
Across the street, about 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered for a protest, chanting slogans, beating drums, and waving signs with messages like, “Israel is a Terrorist State” and “Stop Bombing Palestine.”
Brauchler drew loud applause when he declared, “I’m going to ask the president and the Secretary of State to do something that doesn’t seem like it’s in our nature–I’m going to ask them to sit idly by and let Israel finish this thing.”
Fields, on the other hand, had a mixed outing: She drew cheers when she declared that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” but she was booed when she came out in support of the president’s call for a ceasefire.
“I believe we need to do all we can to promote peace. I think that’s something we can all agree on, would you agree with that?” said Fields, prompting shouts of, “No! Let Israel win!”
Neil Dubrow, chair of Americans Against Terrorism-Colorado, which sponsored the event, said that moderates who push for a ceasefire aren’t boosting Israel’s security.
“These people are not helping Israel even if they mean well,” said Dubrow. “There must be no ceasefire. Israel must finish the job once and for all, demilitarize Gaza and destroy Hamas.”
Coffman said that being a supporter of Israel “means that I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in the recognition that Hamas is a terrorist state and that Israel should never negotiate with terrorists.”
“Being a supporter of Israel in Congress means that I will fight those who believe that Israel should return to its ’67 borders,” said Coffman. “Only Israel can determine what borders it needs for its own security and the United States should never dictate to Israel what its security requirements are.”
Quoting President John F. Kennedy, Beauprez said that, “Unchallenged aggression sooner or later will lead to war.”
“To remain silent in the face of injustice, in the face of genocide, in the face of jihad, tyranny and terrorism is not tolerance, it’s cowardice,” said Beauprez. “Hamas would not only deny Israel’s right to live in peace, but deny her very right to exist.”
Silverman, who hosts a talk show on KNUS-AM, emphasized that the rally was not partisan and that he had invited speakers from across the political spectrum.
“We invited a lot of people here. We don’t care about party,” said Silverman. “We just want people who love Israel and recognize right versus wrong.”