Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe
June 21, 2004, Monday ,THIRD EDITION
SECTION: METRO/REGION; Pg. B3
"BLASTED BUS SPEAKS ON BEHALF OF ISRAEL"
By Lisa Kocian, Globe Staff
The shredded remains of a Jerusalem bus that was destroyed by a suicide
bomber in January sat on City Hall Plaza yesterday as the centerpiece of a rally
in support of Israel sponsored by a coalition of Jewish organizations. Hundreds
of people waving signs and the Israeli flag marched from Brookline and gathered
at the plaza next to the bus.
One police estimate put the crowd at about 350, but organizers said they
had more than 1,000 participate in the walk and rally.
The bus, in which 11 people were killed and 50 others wounded, had
been on display in several other cities around the country before arriving in
Boston. Yesterday, people were allowed to walk up to it and peer inside to see a
chaos of twisted metal and overturned seats.
"This could be an Israeli, an American, any time, any place," said Rabbi
Stuart Klammer, principal of Maimonides Elementary School in Brookline.
He said he viewed the bus with his 8-year-old daughter and thought to
himself, "God forbid this could be her."
The march and rally were organized by Boston for Israel, a group of Jewish
refugees from the former Soviet Union, according to one of the organizers, Alex
Koifman of Waltham.
"Imagine a bus like this in Boston," he said. "I look at the broken
chairs, the glass. This is the same kind of brutality we experience now when
Americans are beheaded in Iraq and Saudi Arabia."
Several speakers addressed the crowd, including Charles Jacobs, president
of the Boston-based David Project. An educational inititiative, the David
Project trains people to advocate for Israel. He criticized the media and human
rights groups, saying they are biased against Israel. "If Arabs wanted peace,
there would be peace," Jacobs asserted.
Police set up a protest area behind metal barricades on the opposite side
of the plaza from where a stage was set up for the pro-Israel speakers, and
about 50 protesters gathered behind them. Pro-Israel activists walked over to
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and the two groups faced off across the barricades
for almost the entire two-hour rally.
The pro-Israel group unfurled giant banners, one depicting Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat next to a bloodied dove: "Dove of peace; piece of dove," it
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators yelled slogans such as "racist state"
through a bullhorn.
Many of the protesters were from the New England Committee to Defend
Palestine, based in Jamaica Plain.
"I'm here today because this march is a march celebrating racism and
apartheid in Palestine, where I'm from," said Lana Habash, a member of the
Asked about her reaction to the bombed bus, she said Palestinians had
tried work strikes, protests on the streets, and other methods to decry the
taking of their land and acts of violence against them.
"I think when you've tried everything else, there is an international
human right to resist," said Habash.
Both groups highlighted their diversity.
The pro-Palestinian side included rabbis who say the founding of Israel
contradicts the Torah. Among the pro-Israel marchers were people who described
themselves as Arab Zionists, and one of the groups that brought over the bus,
Christians for Israel, describes its members as Christian Zionists.
Rev. James M. Hutchens, president of the Washington-based Christians for
Israel, said he hoped the bus would heighten awareness of the brutality of
"This is the statement of the Islamic Jihadists to the Saturday people,
the Jews," he said of the bus. "The twin towers, the Pentagon that's the
statement of the Islamic Jihadists to the Sunday people. And there's no