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November 13, 2023 2:31 pm

‘We Stand Together’: US Jewish Groups to Hold Major Pro-Israel Rally in Washington, DC on Tuesday


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Pro-Israel rally in Times Square, New York City, US, Oct. 8, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in a “March for Israel” in Washington, DC on Tuesday to demand the release of hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza and to show solidarity with both the Jewish state and the Jewish community amid a global surge in antisemitism that has followed the Palestinian terror group’s Oct 7. massacre across southern Israel.

Since last month’s terror onslaught, and amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, there has been a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents worldwide, especially across the US and Europe.

A report published by the Anti-Defamation League on Monday recorded 832 outrages targeting American Jews between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7 — an average of 28 incidents per day and a 316 percent increase on the same period in 2022. The majority of these incidents have been tied to the Hamas atrocities and protests over Israel’s military response to them.

Such a tense climate for the Jewish community has made necessary a mass demonstration showing unity among Jews — Orthodox and secular, conservative and progressive — “in these crazy times,” organizers of the march told The Algemeiner. 

“As antisemitism began increasing in the United States, there was a strong desire for the Jewish community and supporters of Israel to come together and make a very strong and powerful statement and say we stand together with each other, with Israel, and against antisemitism,” said Gil Preuss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. “I think it’s important for everyone to understand that the Jewish community is strong and united in its support for Israel, is strong and united that Hamas free the hostages, and is strong and united in its fight against antisemitism in all of its forms.”

Preuss added that the American Jewish community is also calling for support from US leaders and policymakers, a plea that has increased in volume in recent weeks.

Jews around the world have become a target amid the Israel-Hamas war, not just the Jewish state, according to Natan Sharansky, the famed refusenik and international campaigner against antisemitism.

“Immediately after the [Oct. 7] attack we found that all of us were being attacked, and so the world Jewry is feeling like one family, supporting one another, because I hear from so many who say they never imagined that they would be afraid in their countries,” Sharansky told The Algemeiner. “We all have to rally quickly to turn into one fighting family, and I think that’s what Jews are doing now and why this demonstration is happening.”

In a recent article for Tablet magazine, Sharansky highlighted the pressing need for a mass pro-Israel rally and drew a comparison with marches in 1987 attended by hundreds of thousands to support Soviet Jewry.

“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,” Sharansky wrote. “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.”

Sharansky, a Jewish leader and human rights activist, told The Algemeiner that unity in the Jewish diaspora is crucial, noting that political polarization in Israel that resulted from the government’s proposed judicial reforms has all but disappeared. 

“Disagreements look much less important in view of this huge challenge and tragedy in which we have to go out of it winning, and the idea of course for marching on Washington was motivated by a sense that we must strengthen the feeling of unity,” he added. “My students themselves feel lonely in this struggle. It’s very important that they see themselves as part of a huge movement. The idea is uniting and empowering. We felt differently in Moscow. There we felt we were part of a huge movement of Jewish people.”

Reports of harassment, intimidation, and violence targeting Jewish students and pro-Israel advocates have spiked on US college campuses, which have become hubs of the ongoing surge in antisemitism.

This week’s rally, which is being co-organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is set to take place at 1 pm at the National Mall in Washington, DC. Road closures begin Monday ahead of gates opening Tuesday at 10 am. Organizers reportedly expect up to 100,000 people to show up.

The march gives students who have been targeted for denouncing Hamas’ atrocities a chance to participate in an event of “historical significance,” Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUS, told The Algemeiner.

“Not since the Holocaust have the Jewish people suffered a vicious pogrom like this, coupled with the daily torment of knowing that Hamas abducted and still has 240 men, women, and children,” Rothstein said. “The Jewish people and their allies are gathering to support Israel in its fight against terrorism and demand the safe return of all the hostages.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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