Even with news of terror attacks weighing heavily on Israeli minds, thousands gathered in Tel Aviv on October 3 to speak out for animal rights.

The group, estimated to be 10,000 strong, marched from Gan Meir park to Rabin Square holding signs reading “Justice, compassion, veganism” and “Meat is murder.”

Once they arrived at Rabin Square, the animal rights activists held a rally, calling for stiffer penalties for animal abusers, more humane treatment of livestock, and the cessation of the import of live animals from Australia and other far-flung lands.

The march organizers acknowledged with so much focus on security issues and terror attacks, it may seem like the wrong time to march for animal rights.

“While we are here tonight, the conversation elsewhere is quite different. I imagine we’ll be accused of being disconnected from reality, as part of the Tel Aviv bubble” rally moderator Orly Vilnai told the crowds, recognizing that their gathering was happening at a difficult time for Israel.

Vilnai stressed, however, that even with all that is going on, animal rights cannot be forgotten.

“We must continue this conversation in order to remain sane,” she said.

Miki Chaimovitz agreed, telling the march-goers, “I am fully aware that there is always more important news. But I have news for you: animal rights is an important topic.”

Chaimovitz added the march and rally — the biggest ever for animal rights in Israel — is proof that animal rights is no longer a small, marginalized group in Israel that no one takes seriously.

“The turnout tonight shows this isn’t the case,” Chaimovitz said. “There are many of us here because it’s time to change people’s attitudes toward animals.”

The event was organized by Let the Animals Live, Anonymous and a number of the other animal rights groups large and small. This year’s march and rally is the third annual show of support for animal rights causes.

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