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Supporters of Israel rally in Washington

Participants came on buses from around the country.
Participants came on buses from around the country.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Thousands of people rallied Monday on Capitol Hill in support of what they said is Israel's fight against terrorism and violence.

"At this moment, Israel fights for her existence," said Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, one of many high-profile speakers at the event.

"We are here to let the Jewish state and its brave, beleaguered citizens and its valiant soldiers know that they are not alone."

"Terrorism knows no borders," Wiesel said. "Therefore, opposition to terrorism must know no borders."

The speakers, who stepped up to the podium behind a sign carrying the rally's slogan, "We stand for Israel," were frequently interrupted by cheers, applause and chants from the crowd.

They included religious leaders and politicians, including former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Some speakers drew parallels between the September 11 terrorist attacks and the wave of "suicide killings" that have targeted Israeli civilians in recent weeks.

"We are not afraid," Giuliani told the cheering crowd. "We are not going to cower. We are not going to back down. We are going to stand up for who we are and what we are."

Organizers of the National Rally in Solidarity with Israel are calling on Arab nations to strongly condemn the killing of Israeli civilians.

"To join us, the Palestinian Authority and other states in the region must turn unequivocally against terrorism," said House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri. "Terrorism must not be supported, condoned or rewarded as we work for a resolution to this conflict."

"Those who blow themselves up ... are not martyrs. They are murderers," said U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

The rally took place as Israel continued its incursions into Palestinian territories on the West Bank in the wake of a series of Palestinian suicide bombings targeted against Israeli civilians.

The demonstration was organized by various groups, including synagogues, schools, the Orthodox Union and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

Among those who boarded hundreds of buses around the country for the event were 2,000 students from Yeshiva University in New York City.

"We're going as American citizens in support of the American government's policy in the war against terrorism," said Yeshiva senior Samuel Singer.

"We're appealing to President Bush, the people in the White House, the senators and the congressmen to support this universal cause: Do not give in to terrorism. Protect our civilization. Protect our innocent people and the streets. Whether it's Tel Aviv or New York City, we're all the same," said Rabbi Heshi Reichman, professor of the Talmud at Yeshiva University.

-- CNN's Lauren Rivera contributed to this report.




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