East Texans Rally for Israeli Citizens in Tyler Park

East Texans rallied in support of Israel at Rose Rudman Park Sunday afternoon.

The rally comes at a time when Secretary of State Collin Powell is involved in peace talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Supporters walked the park singing Israeli songs and carrying Israeli flags and signs.

While the U.S. has received criticism in the past for favoring Israeli interests over other middle eastern countries, U.S Representative Ralph Hall (D-Texas) says Bush has tried to end the crises peacefully on both sides.

"I think the president will go the last mile trying to keep down any violence and keep out of war between those two countries," said Hall after returning from the walk. "And I think he's just about gone that last mile."

Israel became a country in 1948 and is one of few democratic countries in the middle east that has stayed loyal to U.S. interests in the United Nations, said Hall.

While the war between the two territories has religious undertones, Israeli supporters say the true fight is over who owns the terrain.

"It's about land. It's about the state of Israel remaining in existence," said state representative Leo Berman.

One lone protestor had differing views and quietly displayed photographs of wounded Palestinian children in the park.

"They just totally ignore what's happening to the Palestinians," said Lorie Hall as she pointed to pictures of injured Palestinian children who were allegedly hurt during Israeli attacks. Hall says she downloaded the pictures from the Internet.

East Texas Islamic Mosque leaders were also disappointed that the rally focused on Israel, rather than on the issue of terrorism itself.

Anwar Khalifa, a member of the East Texas Islamic Society, said a rally against terrorism with Muslims and Jews standing together would have been the ideal way to make a statement on creating peace.

"If the rabbi had come to me," said Khalifa "We could have put something together on anti-terrorism, and we want to show that Muslims and Jews are against terrorism everywhere."

State representative Bob Glaze, Smith County commissioners, and Mayor Kevin Eltife also were in attendance.