Anyone alarmed about the current state of Jewish Americans should have been with the 290,000 demonstrators at the “March for Israel” in Washington, D.C on Nov. 14.
The National Mall was deserted when I arrived around 10 a.m. But, amazingly, within an hour, tens of thousands of Zionists, from synagogues, day schools and other Jewish organizations, began marching briskly and nonviolently from the Washington Monument east to the Capitol.
Participants ranged from toddlers in strollers to nonagenarians with canes, and we represented the magnificent diversity of 21st century Jewish Americans, in our religious observance, or lack thereof, and the many countries our families emigrated from since 1654.
Bipartisanship and the eschewal of mudslinging reigned at the largest pro-Israel rally in American history, indispensable civil values sadly missing in recent years.
Among the dozens of speakers were Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson; Minority Speaker Hakeem Jeffries; and Sen. Jodi Ernst of Iowa, chairwoman of Senate Republican Policy Committee.
At the end of their speeches, the four Congressional leaders joined hands and vowed “we stand with Israel” during its just war in Gaza against the genocidal Palestinian Hamas terrorists.
Congressman Jeffries identified several of the many countries that had heinously murdered and expelled their Jewish citizens, including France, England and Spain.
By stark contrast, America has never committed these abominable persecutions.
The ideological range of the speakers is further exemplified by Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, and CNN’s Van Jones.
The rally began at 11:30 a.m. with passionate, articulate speeches by a group of high school and college students, who are members of more than two dozen Jewish youth organizations.
Natan Sharansky delivered a rousing speech, and the former Prisoner of Zion and Israeli politician also spoke at the 1987 rally at the National Mall for the human right of other Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel.
Thirty-six years ago, on a bitterly cold Sunday in December, 250,000 Jewish Americans participated in that connected historic protest, including Florence Schulte (1923-2009) and myself. My mother was an ardent Zionist, daughter of a U.S. Army World War I doughboy, and wife of a World War II GI.
Earlier this month, on a glorious Indian summer day, Sharansky proudly proclaimed that the Jewish people are “one fighting family, a family that is so strong, which has so much love. And…there is only one outcome in this battle: Our victory.”
During the last half-century, more than 1.3 million Jews from the former republics of the Soviet Union immigrated to Israel. At least 400,000 Soviet Jews also resettled in America, greatly strengthening both long-time, democratic allies.
Consequently, many Jewish Americans with roots in the former Soviet Union have relatives in Israel.
Additionally, others with relatives in Israel include the more than 300,000 Israelis who moved to America since 1948, and the approximately 125,000 Americans who immigrated to Israel.
In 2020, there were approximately 7.5 million Jewish Americans.
At the D.C. rally two weeks ago, historian Deborah Lipstadt, the Biden’s administration’s antisemitism envoy, quoted from President George Washington’s pivotal 1790 letter to the congregants of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, built in 1763.
One immortal line is:
“[F]or, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”
Undoubtedly, during the last two and one-third centuries, Jewish Americans have flourished, and we have made remarkable contributions to this uniquely great country.
On Nov. 14, Israeli President Isaac Herzog also addressed the enormous, enthusiastic D.C. crowd by a video hookup from the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, declaring that “we the people of Israel are eternal, and no one will break us.”
He also emphasized that the “U.S-Israel alliance is stronger than ever before.”
Several relatives of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza made moving appeals for their release, and we repeatedly chanted “Bring Them Home Now.”
Since Nov. 24 of the approximately 240 Israeli and foreign workers taken hostage to Gaza by Hamas, 81 were released in exchange for Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons.
Between Oct. 20 and Nov. 19, I attended three pro-Israel rallies in New York City and D.C.; five packed Friday night services at a large, landmark Manhattan synagogue (built in 1872); and two musical fundraisers for the Jewish state.
Undoubtedly, Jewish Americans are unified, thriving and fearless, and we have been indomitably advocating for ourselves, Israelis, and Jews in other countries who are battling much more pernicious antisemitism.
Mark Schulte is a retired New York City schoolteacher and mathematician who has written extensively about science and the history of science. Read Mark Schulte's Reports — More Here.
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