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November 20. 2012 9:51PM

Ayotte pledges support at Israel Solidarity Rally


Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) speaks to the audience during a gathering in support of Israel at the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire in Manchester Tuesday evening. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER - Sen. Kelly Ayotte promised the United States will stand against "the bullies in Iran" for funding Hamas attacks on Israel, and "has Israel's back."

Ayotte spoke to the Israel Solidarity Rally sponsored by the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire Tuesday night. Several community leaders also spoke in support of Israel's defense against the rocket attacks launched from Gaza.

"No country can accept this type of onslaught; we need to stand today and also reaffirm Israel's right to defend itself against such attacks," Ayotte said. "Hamas is a terrorist organization. They are funded by Iran, they are an organization that must cease all violence, they must recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, to live in peace."

The Republican said she "stands with" President Barack Obama in supporting Israel's right to militarily defend itself and stand up to Iran and that country's nuclear weapons development program.

Referring to Iran as "one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism in the world," Ayotte said the free world cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons when its leaders have called "for the annihilation of Israel; for wiping Israel off the face of the Earth."

Speaking on behalf of Israel's counsel general, Consulate Public Affairs Director David Levenson affirmed the Israeli government's position.

"Israel is currently engaged in a defensive operation aimed at bringing an end to terrorist rocket attacks," he said. "Israel is seeking to bring an end to these attacks on its own civilians while also doing its utmost to ensure that civilians in Gaza are not harmed while keeping Hamas and other terrorist organizations from killing innocent Israeli men, women and children."

Several dozen people attended the event.

Jewish Federation of New Hampshire Executive Director Jeff Fladen traced the history of Hamas' rise to power in the Palestinian-occupied territories.

"Hamas has been known to use the people as human shields and has weapons pointed at Israel with civilians around them," Fladen said. "It appears that Hamas wants casualties in order to manipulate world opinion against Jews and the Jewish state."

Fladen also read portions of a letter from Brenda Johnston, a Rye woman who is in Israel.

"The beauty and the quiet of this wonderful area is broken tonight with the sounds of planes flying regularly over us," she said.

Other speakers related personal experiences and reflections on the Israelis - four civilians and a soldier - who had been reported killed in the attacks.

The meeting was also addressed by Tom Peetz, director of a group called Christians for Support of Israel.

Peetz spoke of the importance of Israel and its traditions in the world community.

"If it wasn't for Israel and its ancestors, the western world wouldn't know how to behave," he said.

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Bill Smith may be reached at wsmith@unionleader.com.

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