December 10, 2023

The 1987 Free Soviet Jewry rally drew 250,000 Jews to the National Mall and was a high point for Jewish street activism. The rally prompted hundreds of thousands of Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union to the United States and Israel. Tuesday’s March for Israel, in contrast to the 1987 rally, defied one simple slogan, and attendees had diverse opinions and messages. Some were calling for “no ceasefire” and showed support for Israel’s war on Hamas. The rally had a message of unity and also allowed left-wing Jewish groups to participate. Despite the complexity and differing viewpoints, people at the rally seemed relieved and genuinely celebrated their attachment to Israel in a crowd where Israel’s existence and defense were taken for granted.