Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Tens of thousands rally in solidarity with Israel, call for release of hostages

Kaiden Yu | Photographer
A sea of pro-Israel protesters gather on the National Mall Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of pro-Israel demonstrators gathered on the National Mall on Tuesday for a rally condemning antisemitism and calling on Hamas to release Israeli hostages.

Politicians, ambassadors and Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke before a crowd that included students from GW, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland and people from cities like Dallas, New York and Cincinnati. Speakers and demonstrators expressed solidarity with Israel and demanded the release of more than 200 hostages captured by Hamas on Oct. 7 during their attack that killed 1,200 people and led to Israel’s declaration of war on the militant group.

The Jewish Federations of North America, a group representing independent Jewish communities, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a nonprofit group addressing concerns within the Jewish community, organized the rally. It began at 1 p.m. on the National Mall near the Capitol, and speakers made speeches until roughly 4 p.m.

Metropolitan Police Department and United States Park Police officers patrolled the mall in parked cars, on foot and horseback down Constitutional Avenue and the National Mall.

Kaiden Yu | Photographer

Demonstrators held signs that read “We stand with Israel, “Antisemitism is racism” and “Terrorism is not activism.” Other signs read “Hamas is war and death, Jihad is war and death, please choose peace” and “Hamas terrorists broke the ceasefire 10/7.”

Many demonstrators draped the flag of Israel over their backs and pinned posters of kidnapped Israelis to their shirts. In between speakers, the demonstrators chanted phrases like “Bring them home,” “We stand with Israel” and “No ceasefire,” prayed, and sang the Star-Spangled Banner.

Herzog addressed the crowd via a live video feed from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, thanking them for the “massive” show of solidarity and activism across the United States since Oct. 7.

“Just as you stand with us, we stand with you,” Herzog said.

Herzog said antisemitism and hatred around the world is an “embarrassment” and that the Jewish people must continue to support Israeli soldiers as they fight in the Gaza Strip.

“Once again in Jewish history, we demand, let our people go,” Herzog said.

Kaiden Yu | Photographer

Van Jones, a CNN political commentator and lawyer, said in a speech that there is bipartisan support in the U.S. for Israel, with politicians from both sides of the aisle standing together to condemn global antisemitism. He said the attack on Oct. 7 is an example of “horrific” acts toward Israelis and called on attendees to not be silent.

“Whatever our different political beliefs and views are about what’s happening overseas, you do not have to support all the policies of Israel to support and love and stand with all the people of Israel during a time of profound need,” Jones said.

Jones received backlash from some protesters who started chanting “no ceasefire” when he called for peace on both sides of the conflict.

“I’m a peace guy. I pray for peace,” Jones said. “No more rockets from Gaza and no more bombs falling down on the people in Gaza.”

Some attendees confronted Orthodox Jewish counterprotesters along the sidewalk who said chants like “Judaism yes, Zionism no” and signs like “Anti-Israel is NOT Anti-Semitism.” Park and Metropolitan police created a barricade with fences around the counter protesters as some pro-Israel demonstrators said they should be ashamed of themselves.

Kaiden Yu | Photographer

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) addressed the crowd together, chanting “We stand with Israel.”

Johnson said party leaders are united in their fight for Israelis and that the U.S. stands “unequivocally” with Israel. He said the call for a ceasefire is “outrageous.”

“Israel will cease their counteroffensive when Hamas ceases to be a threat to the Jewish State,” Johnson said.

Ernst said the thought of people sympathizing with Hamas as they commit violence against Israelis is “truly unfathomable.”

“The brutal reality of Hamas cannot be diminished,” Ernst said.

GW junior Sabrina Soffer — a Hatchet opinions writer and the co-chair for education of GW for Israel — spoke at the march and said she has seen antisemitic “hate fests” on campus, including the projections of anti-Israel messages onto Gelman Library last month, a student tearing down posters of Israeli hostages inside the GW Hillel building and rallies “supporting” the murder of Israelis. She said her peers in organizations like Chabad GW, GW Hillel and GW for Israel are combating antisemitism on campus with resilience and spreading peace.

Officials suspended Students for Justice in Palestine at GWU for at least 90 days Tuesday after the group’s projections onto the library last month. Last week, officials also suspended and removed the student accused of removing the posters of Israeli hostages in the GW Hillel building.

“Our obstacles are opportunities for the righteous and audacious,” Soffer said. “Professors who condemn Hamas, administrators striving to guarantee Jewish safety.”

Kaiden Yu | Photographer

Madison Rosen, a sophomore at GW in the crowd, said she attended the protest to support her Jewish community at a time when she doesn’t feel supported on campus.

“I feel like there’s definitely a narrative where being pro-Palestinian is what’s right, and everything else is supporting genocide or all these other buzzwords,” Rosen said.

Rosen said the protest sends a message that the Jewish community is strong and always supports each other. She said she hopes people keep “an open mind” in the future when discussing the conflict with people who have a different viewpoint.

“I don’t know how we can expect any peace to come from the Middle East if we are internally fighting here,” Rosen said.

Barbara Levin, a resident of Silver Spring, said she heard about the event through her subscription with several Jewish organizations and attended to show support for Israel.

“I’m sorry that innocent people are getting killed. But we were attacked unceremoniously. And it brought back to people visions of the Holocaust because all Hamas wants to do is obliterate Israel and the Jews,” Levin said. “As a Jew, it’s my responsibility to stand up for my people.”

Levin said she hopes the U.S. government will continue to financially support Israel in its fight against Hamas.

“We get blamed for everything,” Levin said. “I have no idea why there’s so much antisemitism in the world but there is, and it always seems to be our fault.”

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet