February 23, 2024
San Diegans on the March for Israel on Tuesday. Courtesy Jeremy Gimbel

Tens of hundreds of demonstrators — together with over 100 from San Diego — gathered in Washington on Tuesday for a “March for Israel” to indicate solidarity with Israel in its conflict with Hamas and condemn rising antisemitism.

Streets have been closed round a lot of downtown amid heightened safety, as individuals gathered in vivid sunshine on the Nationwide Mall, many draped in Israeli and U.S. flags.

“Our message is obvious: we wish the hostages freed, we wish to dwell in peace, and we stand with Israel wherever our toes occur to be,” stated Rabbi Jeremy Gimbel of Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego. “I’ve seen Jews from all around the nation standing in unity and solidarity.”

“We’re right here to indicate the world that we received’t be exterminated once more,” stated Marco Abbou, 57, a private coach from Hackensack, NJ, who’s initially from Israel.

Protests and public demonstrations — each pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel — have rippled all over the world since gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Hamas rampaged by way of southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 individuals, based on Israel, and taking about 240 hostages again to Gaza.

Israel responded with a strict blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza, and an aerial bombardment and floor offensive that Palestinian authorities say has killed greater than 11,000 individuals, round 40% of them youngsters.

In addition to protests, the battle has sparked an increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents in the USA together with violent assaults and on-line harassment, based on advocacy teams.

Organizers of Tuesday’s demonstration stated they estimated 200,000 individuals have been attending to indicate U.S. assist for Israel, demand the discharge of hostages and condemn antisemitic violence and harassment.

Folks within the crowd held up indicators displaying the names and images of individuals kidnapped by Hamas, and chanted “carry them residence”. Different placards included “We have now no the place else to go” and “civilians who reward the slaughter of Jews are not harmless.”

Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and chairman of the manager of the Jewish Company for Israel from 2009-2018, known as for the group to struggle for Israel.

“We’ll struggle towards those that attempt to give legitimacy to Hamas. We’ll struggle for Israel. We’ll struggle for each Jew. We’ll struggle towards antisemitism,” Sharansky stated.

“We defeated Soviet Union. We’ll defeat our enemies in the present day.”

The most important demonstration in Washington to this point associated to the battle on Nov. 4 drew hundreds who known as for the U.S. authorities, Israel’s predominant backer, to name for a ceasefire.

Hamas ‘Not All for Peace’

“A ceasefire is a pause that will permit Hamas to rearm,” stated Ariel Ben-Chitrit, 33, a federal authorities employee from Herndon, Virginia, who was carrying a blue and white Israeli flag at Tuesday’s protest.

Ben-Chitrit expressed remorse Palestinian civilians have been struggling and Gaza hospitals being subjected to excessive situations, however stated the one option to finish the battle was to get rid of Hamas.

“Hamas has confirmed they aren’t interested by peace,” he stated.

The Biden administration has rebuffed requires a ceasefire however has urged Israel to grant pauses within the combating for civilians to maneuver to safer places and for humanitarian assist to enter Gaza.

Underscoring assist within the U.S. Congress for Israel, busloads of senators and members of the Home of Representatives attended the pro-Israel rally. Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate’s Democratic majority chief, and the highest-ranking Jewish elected U.S. official, rescheduled his weekly press convention to attend.

“Hamas’s aim was to scare us. These perpetrating the poison of antisemitism and bigotry all over the world try to scare us,” Schumer stated. “However we won’t permit historical past to slip again to the times of the Holocaust when Jews have been focused and murdered and butchered.”

Authorities ordered an elevated police presence for the demonstration, the Home’s Sergeant at Arms stated on Monday, but it surely added there was no particular risk and measures have been being taken out of an abundance of warning.

Tuesday’s rally included Orthodox Jews sporting lengthy black coats and black felt hats, gaggles of youngsters, and self-described “progressive liberals” equivalent to Erica Taxin, 56, a yoga studio proprietor from Philadelphia.

She stated she disagreed with different progressives calling for a ceasefire.

The militants “didn’t simply take hostages however killed youngsters and peacemakers,” she stated, referring to murdered Israeli activists who advocated peace with the Palestinians. “How does which have something to do with social justice?”

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog stated in a video deal with that outbursts of antisemitism anyplace are a humiliation to all civilized individuals and nations.

“Jews in America should be secure. Jews all around the world should be secure,” Herzog informed the group.

The one counter demonstration witnessed by Reuters correspondents was outdoors the primary crowd enclosure, the place a number of dozen Orthodox Jews from anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta chanted “1, 2, 3, 4, Zionism no extra,” and “down, down the state of Israel.”

Reuters contributed to this text.