Amid Huge Outpouring of Love for Israel at Tuesday’s Rally, Opposition to a Ceasefire Abides

In largest pro-Israel rally ever, supporters say they oppose a let up by Israel until Hamas is gone.

AP/Jacquelyn Martin
The March for Israel rally on November 14, 2023, at the National Mall. AP/Jacquelyn Martin

When supporters of Israel congregated Tuesday at Washington to share words of unity, solidarity, and hope, one conciliation they will be clearly unwilling to make is a so-called “ceasefire” with Hamas. 

A ceasefire, they said, is tantamount to the elimination of Israel. 

“A ceasefire with a terrorist organization is not a peace agreement, it is a death sentence for Israelis,” said Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres, who represents the Bronx and its heavily Jewish neighborhood of Riverdale. 

In some ways the atmosphere on this sunny and mild November day was jubilant. Jews of all stripes — Orthodox, reform, black, white, gay, straight, American, Israeli — celebrated the joy of being Jewish together. They also reveled in the bipartisan congressional support for Israel that was on display by dozens of lawmakers who bussed down four blocks from Capitol Hill.

Today “is a very positive message,” said a pro-Israel political operative who helped put together the event. “It’s a moment of solidarity with Israel. It’s a moment of unity.  Jews and Christians and Muslims and people of all backgrounds are coming together to express their support for Israel.” 

The occasion, though, was not entirely joyous. Chants of “Bring Them Home” dominated the afternoon as images of Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas filled the screens along the Mall. 

Family members of the hostages spoke of the agony of not knowing the status of their relatives. Speakers recalled centuries of anti-Semitism and pointed out the similarities between October 7 and the Holocaust. 

And in that distinctly Jewish combination of joy and sorrow, the over-capacity crowd agreed on the need to yield no ground in the land or PR wars against Hamas. 

“We see naked virulent Jew hatred being disguised as a noble call for liberation, and we reject it,” said actress Debra Messing. 

Calls for “ceasefire” have permeated social media and diplomatic quarters since Israel moved militarily to eradicate Hamas following Hamas’ massacre of 1,200 Israelis and capture of 240 hostages on October 7. 

Just 10 days before the pro-Israel rally, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian supporters marched in Washington with different slogans: “Death to the colonial state of Israel.” “Resistance is Justice.” “Israel=Nazis.” 

Using the language of resistance to declare the United States a bystander to genocide, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters headed to the White House, hurling epithets at President Biden and reportedly vandalizing the White House entry gates with red paint.

Among the guest speakers at the pro-Palestinian rally was Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a three-term Democrat, who was later censured by her colleagues for borrowing the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a quote taken from Hamas’ position statement. Ms. Tlaib, a Palestinian American, claimed that the expression is an “aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence.” 

Tuesday’s rally-goers weren’t buying her explanation. “When Hamas says ‘from the river to the sea’ they mean all of present-day Israel should be a Jewish-free land,” said Senate Majority Leader Schumer of New York. 

“She knows what it means, and we know she knows what it means,” said Jane West Walsh, a March for Israel attendee who works at a nonprofit that encourages interfaith relations and dialogue to combat hate. 

As Israel seeks to eliminate Hamas, freeing Gazans from the terror organization’s grip in the process, Jews at the rally said Israel is the only country in the world that has to prove that its people were mercilessly tortured and murdered before forewarning its enemy where and when it’s going to take retaliatory action. Having to combat anti-Semitism after meeting those requirements is especially frustrating.

“Denying the truth is immoral. Trying to change the facts to what suits you” is immoral, said Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro of Baltimore’s Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah.

The New York Sun

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