The mood in the nation’s capital ranged from somber to jubilant Tuesday, as tens of thousands of people rallied in support of Israel and the Jewish community.
“I feel like it’s my duty right now to be here, to be advocating for my people,” Tal told Fox News.
Demonstrators draped themselves in American and Israeli flags as they congregated at the National Mall for the “March for Israel.”
“We love America, and we’re so happy that America is standing behind Israel,” Elliot from New Jersey said. “It’s really great to all be here together, show support to each other and say thank you to the country.”
A coalition of Jewish organizations planned the march to show support for Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attacks in which Hamas killed around 1,200 people, primarily Israeli civilians. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its counterattack, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.
“I came to stand with Israel during this really crazy time … and stand up for the hostages to come home, and for peace, once and for all,” Cillia from Michigan said.
Up to 238 hostages remain held by Hamas in Gaza, 10 of whom are believed to be Americans.
“This isn’t just an Israeli issue and a Jewish issue — this is a national American emergency,” Adar Rubin, director of mobilization for End Jew Hatred, said. “We have to bring all our hostages home, and Congress has to do everything in their power to ensure that our allies play their role in bringing them back.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, both spoke at the rally.
The event was peaceful and largely united, with a few anti-Israel demonstrators protesting on the fringes.
“We have a voice and we’ll use it to support a Jewish cause that’s against antisemitism and supports the right of Israel to exist,” Elyssa, a Canadian citizen, told Fox News.
“There has been a tremendous uproar of antisemitism, and we feel that we have to show that we are here,” said Ramy, who came from Philadelphia with his son and other members of their Jewish community.
Ramy told Fox News he wants Americans to know that “we’re not going away — we’re standing strong.”
Carter traveled from Tennessee for the rally because he was disturbed by the number of pro-Palestinian demonstrations he was seeing around the country.
“We need to be a witness for something, rather than against something,” he told Fox News. “And I’m for the Israelis, I’m for the state of Israel and just glad to be here. It’s very inspirational.”
Elliot said his parents brought him to D.C. in 1987 for the Freedom Sunday rally in support of Jews in the Soviet Union. Now, more than 30 years later, he brought his daughter to the capital for a similar “lesson in civics.”
“This is how we protest in America,” he said.
Click here to hear more from those at the March for Israel.