Demonstrators from across the United States gathered on Tuesday on the National Mall in Washington in a vast show of solidarity with Israel as it wages war in the Gaza Strip in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.
The rally, called the March for Israel, was intended by organizers to respond to critics of Israel, where about 1,200 people were killed in the attack, and meant as a loud signal to U.S. politicians not to waver in support for Israel as calls grew for a cease-fire. In speeches by lawmakers invited to address the rally, there were no signs of such wavering.
“We ache with you, we stand with you and we will not rest until you get all the assistance you need,” said Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and, as Senate majority leader, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the country.
Following Mr. Schumer in a bipartisan lineup of speakers was Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana and the new speaker of the House. “The calls for a cease-fire are outrageous,” he said, setting off a “No cease-fire” chant from the crowd. “Israel will cease their counteroffensive when Hamas ceases to be a threat to the Jewish state.”
The march was arranged in a matter of days by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Schools, synagogues and community centers sent buses of attendees. By the time speeches began, the Mall was crowded with people from Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Boston, Philadelphia and other places around the country, waving American and Israeli flags and holding signs declaring support.
Over the course of the event, tens of thousands of people had converged on the Mall, the national park that sits between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. The U.S. Park Police, which has jurisdiction, does not provide official crowd estimates, nor does the city’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Tamara Wilkof, 71, was among the hundreds who had come to Washington on around two dozen buses from Cleveland. “It’s definitely a unity message,” she said, adding that she believed people had been galvanized by the surge in antisemitism since the attack. A fellow marcher mentioned that a Jewish cemetery in the Cleveland suburbs was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti last weekend.