The outpouring of love and pride at last Tuesday’s rally for Israel in Washington DC was not only testament to the phenomenal efforts of the organized American Jewish community but also a clear message to the world that the Jewish people will not remain silent. It also sent an important message to Israelis that their Jewish family in America loves and cares for them.
On smartphones and television screens, the world witnessed more than 300,000 people coming together as one in an unequivocal demonstration of support and pride for Israel. The impressive turnout sent a strong message to the people of Israel who are still reeling from the horrific massacre here on October 7.
Illustrating the unity of the Jewish people What the people of Israel witnessed yesterday in DC, with tens of thousands of Jews and Israel supporters waving Israeli flags, singing, chanting, and raising their voices in support was both impactful and offered much-needed inspiration. The rally also illustrated to the world that the Jewish people can unify around their Jewish homeland.
On October 7, the people of Israel went through the single most traumatic event in our history. That it happened on Simchat Torah and the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war was a huge blow but no coincidence. More than 1,200 people – civilians and soldiers, men, women, babies, children, and the elderly – were murdered by Hamas terrorists on army bases, in their homes, in cars, and at a music festival celebrating life and peace.
An additional 240 people of more than 40 different nationalities – including Americans – were taken as hostages back to Gaza. They have been held captive by Hamas for more than five weeks. IRONICALLY, MANY of the 20-plus communities attacked on that fateful, dark day were peace-loving Israelis who, despite two decades of rocket fire by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, have advocated for a peaceful solution and taken care of the sick and frail from Gaza seeking medical care in Israel.
The aftermath of the October 7 massacre Since October 7 – and Israel’s subsequent military response inside the Gaza Strip as it seeks to wipe out Hamas’ power and infrastructure and bring the murderers to justice – there has been a significant rise in antisemitism worldwide, with most of the international media quickly turning against Israel. Massive anti-Israel demonstrations have taken place in cities across the globe under the banner of “From the River to the Sea – Palestine will be free.” University administrations have either refused to condemn Hamas’ atrocities or have remained silent, with some even drawing a moral equivalency between Israel’s justified response and Hamas terror.
On campuses across the world and particularly in the United States, Jewish students have felt increasingly unsafe and marginalized. Their voices have been ripped away from them as they watch their peers tear down heartbreaking posters of Israeli hostages, including some 30 children, and face an onslaught of anti-Israel and antisemitic attacks on social media and in person. We have even heard celebrities and influencers questioning whether the Hamas’s massacre even happened at all – Holocaust denial in real-time.
What happened on October 7 seems to have changed everything. The importance of Tuesday’s rally There is a heavy sadness that has fallen over the Israeli people that is shrouded in anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety. The horrific videos of the October 7 massacre, images of the hostages in Gaza, and the constant news cycle have brought our people to an all-time low wondering if we are all alone here in Israel. That is why Tuesday’s rally was so important and uplifting, and the solidarity will resonate here for a long time.
As the father of three young Israeli adults, I have come a long way from my days as a student activist on campus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) following the First Intifada and with my wife raised our three children through the wave of suicide bombings of early 2000s; the multiple Lebanon operations; rocket fire from Hamas and Hezbollah; waves of stabbings/lone wolf terror attacks and subsequent rounds of violence. Our children grew up way too fast, wrapped up in the constant news cycle of violence and terror. The speeches made last Tuesday were a clear contrast to our detractors and sent a clear message that in order to defeat this hate, Jews must stand together – unified. The writer is founder of Upstart Ideas.