At least 300,000 people rallied in the nation’s capitol Tuesday in support of Israel as other rallies took place across the country from Kansas City to Miami.
The day of support for Israel, which was meant to also draw attention to 240 hostages being held by Hamas and condemn antisemitism, was perhaps the most important rally in Jewish American history.
Carrying Israeli and American flags, people demanded the release of the hostages, prayed, and showed unparalleled unity between the Jewish and Christian communities.
For many, it was a breath of fresh air and relief to be a visible statement in support of Israel after weeks of pro-Hamas rallies on university campuses and cities like New York and Austin, Texas.
Many of those anti-Israel rallies used slogans such as “From the river to the Sea” and “Gas the Jews,” which observers say showed the real intent which was the eradication of Jews from Israel. Antisemitic attacks have spiked across the nation to historic levels, according to President Joe Biden.
Tuesday was the first time coordinated pro-Israel rallies took place, including in Kansas City where almost 100 supporters gathered at the famed fountains on The Plaza. A second rally is scheduled for Sunday at 2pm at the same location.
A Jewish woman who attended with her son stated she saw the rally from the window of nearby St. Luke’s Hospital. “I’m so pleased,” she told Metro Voice publisher Anita Widaman. “to see Christians standing with Israel and the Jewish people.”
She said she wished she had known about it earlier.
But the media attention Tuesday was on Washington DC. It was a rare show of unity between Republicans and Independents who rarely find anything to agree upon. To the cheer of the crowd, leaders of both parties approached the podium to speak words of support. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support Israel in its current ground war to destroy Hamas which has ruled Gaza since 2006. The terror group, accompanied by possibly thousands of Gazan citizens, invaded Israel Oct. 7 torturing and murdering 1,200 Israelis and taking 240 people, including babies, hostage.
“History shows that when the world ignored anti-Semitism in the last century, it led to the worst catastrophe in human history—6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said 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.), expressed 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.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League National Director and CEO, 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,” he said.
In Kansas City, the rally was attended by both Jews and Christians. It included the singing of the Israel national anthem, “Hatikvah,” or “The Hope, and silent interaction with drivers, many of whom honked or waved their support.
Some in Congress are joining with Hamas in calling for a ceasefire. Israel appears to be in control of the northern half of Gaza and is actively searching for the hostages, which include 10 Americans. President Joe Biden has rejected calls for a ceasefire. Israel continues to protect an evacuation route that has come under fire from Hamas.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice