Published On: Tue, Nov 14th, 2023
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‘March for Israel’ rally to condemn rising antisemitism at D.C.’s National Mall

With such a large-scale rally set to draw busloads of supporters from throughout the Northeast, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that the National Guard will coordinate with local police.

Attendees traveled by plane and bus from all around the country to make it to D.C. by Tuesday. Buses departed from New York City’s Temple Emanu-El for D.C. and buses from Cleveland arrived at the Kennedy Center. A group from Hebrew Academy Miami posed with the Israeli flag as members embarked on their journey to the rally early Tuesday.

The event’s security level was raised to the highest designation under a system communicated by the Department of Homeland Security, typically done based on crowd size, expected attendance of members of Congress and perceived threat level, two Department of Homeland Security officials told NBC News.

The speakers at the event include CNN political commentator Van Jones, actor Debra Messing, Israel’s president Isaac Herzog, members of Congress, and family members of hostages.

The schedule includes a segment to hear the perspectives of college students and performances from Israeli artists and local a capella groups. 

The event, while it is billed as a “march,” is expected to stay within the National Mall rather than spill out into the streets, as organizers have said upward of 60,000 people may attend. A march through the streets of Paris against antisemitism attracted about 100,000 people Sunday, and it was supported by representatives of the major political parties.

At least one pro-Palestinian group, the Washington chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement, asked its supporters on Instagram “not to engage” with Tuesday’s pro-Israel event. Since the fighting began on Oct. 7, pro-Palestinian organizations have held their own rallies in cities across the U.S. and globally.

Demonstrations have also roiled college campuses as schools struggle to contain escalating rhetoric and threats of violence. They include an Arab Muslim student at Stanford University who was struck in a hit-and-run that authorities are investigating as a hate crime and the arrest last month of a Cornell University junior accused of making online threats to Jewish students.

The Anti-Defamation League said Monday that in the month since the war between Israel and Hamas began, it has documented 832 antisemitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment across the U.S., a 316% increase from the same period last year.

“As we have seen repeatedly, when conflict arises in the Middle East, particularly when Israel exercises its right to self-defense, antisemitic incidents increase here in the U.S. and around the world,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the league’s CEO, said in a statement.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also said it has seen a sharp rise in bias incidents since Oct. 7. Since then, the group said, it has received 1,283 “requests for help and reports of bias,” a 216% increase from an average period last year.

Corey Saylor, the council’s research and advocacy director, said it was the largest wave of Islamophobic bias the group has documented since the Trump administration implemented an immigration ban.

“Both Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism are out of control in ways we have not seen in almost 10 years,” Saylor said in a statement.

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