MOUNT PLEASANT — Shem Creek and Charleston Harbor were filled with boats flying Israeli and American flags Sunday, as hundreds proclaimed support for Israel in Charleston’s first Friendship Flotilla.
More than 300 people boarded four tour boats and 28 private vessels, according to volunteers counting the people, for a nautical procession from Shem Creek to The Battery and back.
“I believe it’s just the beginning, a groundbreaking (for an annual) event,” Melissa Fort of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina coordinator for Israel Always, said after everybody got back to Shem Creek.
She’s an evangelical Christian who believes the Bible teaches that Christians should support Israel. She works closely with Earl Cox of Mount Pleasant, a Christian radio host who spends much of his time in Jerusalem, often in consultation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Those who went out on the water included Cox and state Rep. Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach, a Republican who last summer got the House to pass a resolution affirming that Israel holds its homeland by divine right and Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies.
The rally was organized by Friends of Israel Always, an offshoot of Israel Always, and Chabad of Charleston and the Lowcountry, a Mount Pleasant Jewish organization.
Rabbi Yossi Refson, a native of England, helped start Chabad about four years ago and was one of the passengers Sunday.
“It’s just a way of showing support for Israel,” he said before the trip. “Charleston, as the Holy City, is almost a sister city to the Holy Land. So many people in Charleston have strong feelings about Israel.”
Bill Johnson drove down from Darlington and displayed Israeli flags on the dock.
“We’re heavy supporters of Israel,” he said. “I didn’t want to miss this.”