Three Hundred Thousand Gather on National Mall to Stand With Israel
By Hamodia Staff
On a brisk Tuesday afternoon, an estimated 300,000 Jews and Israel supporters from across North America gathered for the “March for Israel” on the National Mall in the nation’s capital.
The rally, organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations, was held for several purposes: First, of calling attention to the plight of the approximately 240 Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. Second, of protesting the antisemitism that has raged in the U.S. and around the world since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, in which 1,200 Jews were killed, mostly civilians and many in barbaric fashion, Hy”d, and hundreds injured. Third, of asking the U.S. government to continue its support of Israel despite pressures from international entities and some in the U.S.
The speakers spoke of the brutality of the attack, the need to bring the hostages home, to end the reign of terror of Hamas, and the need to call out antisemitism which has proliferated in the United States since the outbreak of the war in Israel.
After a rendition of the national anthem and a rousing cheer of “bring them home,” Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky, who was a Prisoner of Conscience refusenik in the Soviet Union for nine years, reminisced about how the march of a quarter of a million people helped raise the Iron Curtain to free Soviet Jewry, and emphasized the importance of unity at this time. He decried the protests on college campuses that lauded the brutalities of Hamas’ gruesome attack.
President of Israel Isaac Herzog spoke via hookup from the Kosel, and he thanked all who came to show solidarity with the people of Israel. He said that today, we come together as one family to march for good over evil, light over darkness. He mentioned how President Biden has stated that the savagery of Hamas brings to mind the brutality of ISIS, and he thanked the president and the political leaders for their moral clarity and their support. President Herzog decried the antisemitism which has reared its ugly head, and said it is an embarrassment that it is rampant in the streets across the world.
President Herzog ended with a prayer for the return of the hostages, the recovery of the injured, and the safety of the brave soldiers.
Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, spoke about how the past five weeks showed that antisemitism is forever present. She assured the crowd that the Biden administration will do its utmost not to allow Jew hatred to proliferate in the streets of the United States, and that the government is committed to fight it both at home and abroad.
Bipartisan leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives came together to show that they stand with Israel.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said we must not forget the history of antisemitism and that it must be dealt with forcefully or it will grow. “The United States stands with Israel and we must never let that happen,” Schumer said.
He spoke about the evil of Hamas, and how their charter speaks of killing Jews. He mentioned how when a bipartisan group of legislators met with families of the hostages, and how as the first Jewish Senate Majority Leader he felt an obligation to go. He told the crowd that he will see that Israel gets the assistance it needs.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) shared how members of the Senate and House viewed a video that morning showing the atrocities carried out by Hamas during their attack. “It was difficult for us to watch, and some could not view it in its entirety,” he said.
He spoke forcefully that the scourge of antisemitism must be eradicated, and how Jews must not be allowed to be threatened on college campuses and in the streets of America. He said the call of “from the river to the sea” is a call for the destruction of Israel and must not be allowed.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) spoke about how the Jewish people were violently attacked throughout history, and how the attack by Hamas is a continuation of the history of that antisemitism. “We stand together in the effort to stamp out antisemitism, we stand together with Israel in their right to defend themselves, and we stand together in demanding to bring the hostages home.”
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) spoke of her visit to Israel before she was sworn in as a senator, and how three days after the heinous attack she traveled there and met with members of the families and the leaders of Israel.
“I am here to say, ‘We will not be quiet while antisemitism is rampant in America.’ How anyone can sympathize with these brutal terrorists is unfathomable. Those monsters (Hamas) deserve nothing short of complete and total destruction. The United States must remain resolute.”
Relatives of hostages spoke emotionally to the crowd, beginning with the mother of Omer Neutra. “Omer took a year off from his studies to spend a year in Israel, and he decided to enlist in the IDF,” she told the crowd. She spoke of how everyone is praying for his safe return.
A relative told of six members of her family who hid in their home but had to leave when smoke filled the house, and they were taken to Gaza and remain hostages. “It doesn’t need to be political to share in the grief that my family is feeling,” she said.
The mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, shared the pain of the families, and questioned why the world is silent in the face of so many people, babies and children, “being left to stay buried underground?” She mentioned how a Christian who saved Jews during WWII explained that he risked his life because at least when he faced his Maker, he will not be unable to answer when asked, “What did you do?”
Chants of “Bring them home” permeated throughout the crowd during the moving speeches.
The crowd then joined in singing Acheinu kol beis Yisrael.
Israel’s ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog stated how Israel did not start the war but will fight until they finish the war and achieve the return of the hostages. “We will leave no stone unturned until we bring them back home. There is simply no other choice for a nation that values life. Thankfully, we are not alone, as a majority of Americans stand firmly with Israel.”
He thanked the president and the people of America who joined to stand with Israel. “We are witnessing mass rallies around the globe glorifying Hamas. We are seeing Jewish students on colleges being attacked. Where do you stand? Do you stand with the killers, or with the democracy which does whatever it can to protect life? Raise our voices loud for Israel to defend itself. Raise our voices loud to denounce Hamas for the ISIS-like murderers that they are. Raise our voices loud to bring all the hostages home.”
Students of universities shared the atmosphere of fear and hate they feel on their campuses, and how they are harassed and afraid to attend classes and speak up.
The rally ended with the representatives of the sponsoring organizations thanking the nearly 300,000 attendees for coming and raising their voices to stand with Israel, as well as the quarter million who participated via livestream.
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