World Jewish Communities Express Solidarity With Israel

New York synagogues pray for soldiers' welfare; French Jewish leaders visit Israel; supporters rally in London.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended on Sunday a pro-Israel rally outside the Goldsmith Jewish Federation Center in Los Angeles.

The gathering was one of a number of events that took place across the United States to show support for Israel's response to the recent Middle East crisis.

In the New York metropolitan area, many synagogues held special prayers on Saturday for the welfare of the Israeli soldiers and pilots participating in the fighting in Lebanon.

Prayers were held even in Orthodox synagogues in Brooklyn that have ambivalent attitudes toward Israel.

The Orthodox synagogue in the upscale resort area of East Hampton, Long Island, held a day of solidarity with Israel, attended by 1,000 congregants and visitors and a representative of the IDF chaplaincy.

The congregation contributed two mobile synagogues for the soldiers involved in the fighting.

Meanwhile, some 75 leaders of the Jewish community in France are expected in Israel on Monday for a solidarity visit. They will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog and other government officials.

The French community leaders will arrive on an El Al flight from Paris and during their visit will also discuss plans to promote tourism to Israel.

The heads of the Jewish community said they wanted to stand by Israel at this difficult hour.

In Britain, Israeli Ambassador Zvi Heifetz addressed a pro-Israel rally at a school in north London on Sunday night.

He told the gathering of British Jews that recent meetings such as the G-8 summit in Russia had shown that Israel was not alone, and his country had the backing of the international community in its confrontation with Hezbollah.

"The leaders of the civilized world are not blind to the facts. Their message was clear - Hezbollah is responsible. And Israel has the right to defend its people," he said.

Elsewhere in London, a second protest took place to condemn the violence and denounce Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for Israel's military action.

The turnout was much smaller than the estimated 7,000 who joined a rally Saturday.

Opposition politicians also called for Britain to distance itself from the stance of the United States.

Several thousand people, mostly Ukrainian Jews, gathered in central Kiev on Monday to voice backing for Israel fighting Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

About 5,000 students, schoolchildren and veterans waved Israeli flags and held aloft placards saying "Ukraine against terrorism" and "Yes to Israel, No to terrorism".

"We came here to show our support for Israel in its fight against the Hezbollah organisation," Vadim Rabinovich, head of the Jewish community, told the crowd.

In contrast with protests elsewhere denouncing the campaign in Lebanon, Ukraine's 100,000 strong Jewish community, turned out to show its support for the Israel.

Many of the demonstrators had traveled from throughout Ukraine to the protest venue - a metal arch built in Soviet times to honor friendship between nations, overlooking the Dnieper River.