Digital Originals

published : 2023-11-19

Pro-Israel advocates speak out against rising antisemitism: Feeling unsafe and taking a stand

Pro-Israel demonstrators refuse to be deterred by the surge in antisemitism

A group of pro-Israel advocates holding hands in solidarity at the March for Israel, captured with a Nikon D850.

Pro-Israel advocates from across the U.S. gathered in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate against the alarming rise in antisemitism during the Israel-Hamas war.

For many attendees, it was a profound and unsettling experience. Nick, attending with his father, confessed, 'This is the first time in my life that I honestly don't really feel safe being Jewish.' The fear was palpable, but they were determined not to let it control their actions. 'We felt a bit nervous coming out here, but we thought we can't let that fear kind of guide us. We have to just go out and represent what we believe in,' they shared.

On November 14, tens of thousands of individuals displayed their unwavering support for Israel in a massive gathering at the National Mall. The March for Israel became an awe-inspiring spectacle as demonstrators adorned themselves with American and Israeli flags, forming a powerful symbol of unity.

The event was not only about solidarity with Israel but also about condemning antisemitism. The Jewish Federations of North America, the nonprofit organizer of the rally, proudly declared it as the largest pro-Israel demonstration in U.S. history.

Sadly, the need for such an event was underscored by a recent survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, which documented over 830 antisemitic incidents across the country between October 7 and November 7. That averages to nearly 28 incidents a day, painting a grim picture of the enduring hate Jewish individuals face on a regular basis.

Senator Chuck Schumer addressing the crowd at the rally, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Steve from Pennsylvania emphasized that antisemitism has always been present but tends to escalate during times of conflict. 'Anti-Israel is just another name for antisemitism,' he asserted.

Pro-Israel demonstrators also shared their personal encounters with antisemitism. Ramy, who works at Philadelphia City Hall, described a disheartening experience with constant pro-Palestinian protests taking place around his workplace. 'They need to know that Jews have been oppressed for centuries, and we're going to fight back,' he declared.

The rally held in Washington, D.C., seemed to oscillate between somber remembrance and jubilant celebration. Presenters recounted stories of resilience and the horrors of the October 7 attack that claimed the lives of over 1,200 Israelis. Meanwhile, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claimed the deaths of more than 11,200 Gazans in the fighting.

The rally attracted notable political figures from both sides of the aisle, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Their presence underscored the shared commitment in the face of rising antisemitism. Elyssa recognized this unity, stating, 'Although there has been a rise in antisemitism, there are a lot of people who are standing strong with the Jewish community.'

Carter, who traveled from Tennessee to join the rally, echoed this sentiment, stating, 'The protests against Israel are a vocal minority. The majority of America stands with these people right here.'

Pro-Israel demonstrators waving American and Israeli flags, displaying their unwavering support for Israel, photographed with a Sony Alpha a7 III.

The journey through the rally and the stories shared left a lasting impact. Attendee Debra, from New York, recounted how hostage posters she had put up in her neighborhood were removed, a chilling reminder of the persistence of hate.

The fight against antisemitism continues, both on the streets and in the hearts of those who refuse to be silenced. The rally in Washington, D.C., served as a testament to the unwavering determination to combat hatred and discrimination, inspiring individuals across the nation to come together and make a change.

To read more about the rally and watch interviews with the demonstrators, please click here.