New Yorkers headed to Washington, D.C. by the busload Tuesday, joining a sea of demonstrators on the National Mall for what was billed as a “March for Israel.”
At that march, they expressed their solidarity with Israel following the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, and called for an end to anti-semitism.
In the crowd was Allison Richard from Manhattan, who just converted to Judaism in May.
“When I did that, I basically made a pledge to stand with the Jewish people,” she said. “This feels like that moment when you get to put your words into action.”
Richard traveled to the nation’s capital with fellow congregants from Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, led by Senior Rabbi Joshua Davidson.
“Coming together like this sends an important signal to the wider world that neither Israel nor the Jewish people will be bullied,” he said.
From the stage, New York lawmakers addressed the gathering, saying plainly that the U.S. must and will back its Middle East ally in the aftermath of the Hamas attack that left more than a thousand dead.
“We must do to Hamas what we did to the Nazis in the 20th century,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat.
“We will not allow history to slide back to the days of the Holocaust when Jews were targeted and murdered and butchered,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
New York is home to the largest Jewish population in the U.S.
The rally came as President Joe Biden is pushing for Congress to approve more than $10 billion in aid for Israel.
When the Senate and House will be able to reach a deal on that assistance, though, is unclear. The package is caught up in a fight over funding for Ukraine, Taiwan, and the southern border, plus a House GOP demand to cut IRS funding.
As it so often is, Washington has been the scene of protest in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, pro-Palestinian demonstrators took to the streets, denouncing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. In October, a group calling for a ceasefire took over the rotunda of a House office building.
On Capitol Hill, some New York progressives are among the most outspoken in publicly warning about the rising civilian death toll in Gaza.
“The killing of children, the killing of innocent people will never be collateral damage. It is the damage,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this week.
“Ceasefire means release the hostages. Ceasefire means stop the bombardment now. Ceasefire means defend the innocent. Ceasefire means transcend cycles of violence,” she continued.
Advocates for Israel push back that a ceasefire would give Hamas time to regroup.
Back on the National Mall Tuesday, a demonstrator from Glen Cove, Nassau County, called the past five and a half weeks emotionally draining.
“I wish we didn't have to come together for such a tragic reason,” said Sarah Finkelstein Waters. “But there’s peace here. There's beauty. There's love.”