In a show of solidarity and support for Israel, an estimated 200,000 pro-Israel protesters gathered in Washington DC. The rally, organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, aimed to condemn the rise of anti-Semitism and demand the release of hostages held by Hamas. The emotional event featured speeches from family members of the hostages, who shared their personal stories of anguish and pleaded for their loved ones' safe return.
Orna Neutra, the mother of hostage Omer, spoke about her son's dedication to protecting others as a member of the IDF. She emphasized the importance of keeping his story in the public eye and called for the use of all available power to bring the hostages home. The crowd responded with chants of "bring them back."
Political figures from both sides of the aisle also addressed the rally. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson expressed their unwavering support for Israel and pledged to provide any necessary assistance. Democratic political analyst Van Jones, known for his advocacy of peace, called for an end to the violence and prompt return of the hostages.
The rally took place against the backdrop of a surge in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States during the Gaza war. The Anti-Defamation League reported a nearly 400% increase in such incidents, including assaults, vandalism, and harassment. The Biden administration has called for immediate action to combat discrimination on campuses and protect students.
While the rally was largely peaceful, organizers anticipated the presence of counter-protestors. Security measures, including heightened police presence and the deployment of the National Guard, were in place to ensure the safety of attendees.
The March for Israel brought together communities from across the country to show solidarity with the Israeli people and demand the release of the remaining hostages. It served as a platform for families to share their heartbreaking stories and for political leaders to reaffirm their support for Israel