Thousands Rally in Support of Israel in Washington

Jackson Richman
By Jackson Richman
November 14, 2023US News

WASHINGTON—Tens of thousands of pro-Israel advocates descended on the National Mall on Nov. 14 for what was one of the most important rallies in Jewish American history.

They heeded the rallying cry of “Never Again” amid the latest round of Hamas attacks on Israel that began on Oct. 7, resulting in the greatest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were killed.

The gathering also comes during a spike in anti-Semitism worldwide, including in the United States.

Israel has responded with air and ground attacks in Gaza, which Hamas controls. Hamas has taken hundreds of hostages, including at least 30 Americans.

“History shows that when the world ignored anti-Semitism in the last century, it led to the worst catastrophe in human history—six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in his speech to the crowd.

“Let us not forget history. History shows that Israel was almost destroyed in 1967 and in 1973. We cannot, we cannot, we must not let that happen again.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), expressing solidarity with Israel and decried the rise in anti-Semitism in the United States including on college campuses. He remarked that the rallying cry of “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” is a call “for the extermination of Israel.”

He called the current climate of virulent anti-Semitism “unacceptable.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who also expressed support for Israel, noted the history of Jews being expelled from countries including Spain and Portugal—both of which happened in 1492.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), representing Senate GOP leadership, said that “the United States must remain resolute” in its support for Israel and its “most basic human right: the right to life.”

The Epoch Times interviewed attendees ahead of the event who expressed similar sentiments such as why they decided to go to Washington.

Anti-Defamation League National Director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said he attended the rally because he wanted to hear the call for the hostages to be freed and for “Hamas to surrender their weapons.”

“And in the end, the only way we’re going to have a long-term peaceful outcome that’s good for Israelis and Palestinians, that’s good for Jews and Muslims and all people is living together and working together in peace.”

Benjamin Abeogel, of Maryland, said he has family in Israel and, while none of them are among the some 230 hostages Hamas has captured, they had to evacuate their homes and go to shelters.

“We need to free the hostages. We need to end the war,” he said. “And we need to keep the Jewish state independent and living and thriving where they are. We need to have a spot in the world where Jewish people can represent themselves.”

Progressives, including some in Congress, have called for a ceasefire to end the fighting and result in the release of the hostages. President Joe Biden has rejected such calls, although his push for humanitarian pauses in the fighting has been accepted by Israel.

NTD Photo
Thousands of supporters of Israel rally in the National Mall in Washington on Nov. 14, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Additional speakers at the rally included U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Deborah Lipstadt, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and his brother, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog. President Herzog appeared live virtually, speaking in front of the holy Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The march was organized by the Jewish Federations of North America, which supports the Jewish and pro-Israel communities in the United States, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella organization of Jewish and pro-Israel groups including the Anti-Defamation League.

In addition to the aforementioned dignitaries, family members of some of the hostages were at the rally.

On Nov. 13, Jonathan Polin and Rachel Goldberg, the parents of one of the U.S. citizens taken hostage by Hamas, shared their story of trying to get their son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, back.

Mr. Goldberg-Polin attended the Nova Music Festival near the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked it. His arm was blown off. Whether he got treatment for the arm, which would increase the chances that he is still alive, or not—which would have led to his bleeding to death—is unknown.

Ms. Goldberg’s message to those in attendance at an event at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington: “Be that mosquito”—in other words, don’t stop raising their son’s case to the U.S. government.

The parents said they met with U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan before the event at the synagogue.

Lizzie Drucker-Basch, who is from Richmond, Virginia, and is a friend of the Polins, told The Epoch Times she came to the rally “because our hearts are broken.”

Buses and planes carried tens of thousands of pro-Israel activists from across the United States.

Security measures were put in place, including road closures.

Spike in Hate Crimes

The march comes as anti-Semitic hate crimes have increased by 214 percent in New York. There was a 388 percent spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23, according to the ADL.

That includes a 69-year-old Jewish man in Los Angeles, Paul Kessler, who was allegedly killed by a pro-Palestinian demonstrator with a megaphone in Los Angeles. A suspect was arrested but released.

Jonathan Oswaks, who said he was a friend of Mr. Kessler, told The Epoch Times that he attended the Washington rally, among numerous reasons, to call for justice for him. He met with Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) prior to the rally about the tragedy.

“I want to see this man arrested. I want to be able to walk in my community,” he said. “I want to be able to enjoy the facilities of the community. And with murderers at large, it puts everybody at risk.”

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe for the past decade and has shown no signs of abating. When asked by The Epoch Times if the United States is like Europe in terms of anti-Semitism permeating society, Mr. Greenblatt said that “the numbers tell a different story than that. But I think we have great reason for concern.”

On Nov. 1, Natan Sharansky, an icon in the Jewish and pro-Israel communities who was imprisoned for eight years in the Soviet Gulag for his dissident activism, called for a gathering to sound the alarm about the situation in Israel and the rise in anti-Semitism.

“If there is to be a future for America in America, it is time to step up in defense of its core values, and in this American Jews can play an important role,” Mr. Sharansky wrote in Tablet magazine.

“Let us start with a March of One Million: students, parents, Jewish organizations, and allies coming together in support of academic freedom and against a primitive ideology that silences truth and justifies murderous rampages as a form of liberation.”

There is a precedent for large rallies in Washington by the Jewish and pro-Israel communities.

In 2002, a rally was held amid the Second Intifada, when Palestinian terrorists targeted Israelis between 2000 and 2005.

In 1987, there was a protest in solidarity with the Soviet Union’s Jews, who were prevented from leaving the communist empire.

From The Epoch Times

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