200,000 rally against Jew-hatred
Back existence of Israel as refuge for Jews

Washington marchers say: No to cease-fire, prevent more pogroms

By Arlene Rubinstein
November 27, 2023
Massive nationwide rally in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14 defends Israel’s right to exist as a refuge for Jews, demands release of hostages held by Hamas and protests growing antisemitic attacks.
AP/Mark SchiefelbeinMassive nationwide rally in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14 defends Israel’s right to exist as a refuge for Jews, demands release of hostages held by Hamas and protests growing antisemitic attacks.

WASHINGTON — Some 200,000 protesters from across the country came out on the National Mall here Nov. 14 to rally against the Tehran-organized-and-backed Hamas slaughter of over 1,200 people in Israel Oct. 7, overwhelmingly Jewish. The banner at the front said, “Americans: March for Israel, March to Free Hostages, March Against Antisemitism.”

The Hamas assault was aimed at agricultural Kibbutzim along the Gaza border, killing and taking hostage Jews, Bedouin Arabs, and farmworkers from Thailand, Nepal and elsewhere.

Since the killings there has been a significant jump in Jew-hating violence in the U.S. and other countries. Threats and attacks have been widespread on college campuses. One of the aims of the march was to appeal for solidarity against this violence.

Participants in Nov. 14 rally in Washington, D.C., protest against Hamas’ Oct. 7 pogrom.
Militant/Candace WagnerParticipants in Nov. 14 rally in Washington, D.C., protest against Hamas’ Oct. 7 pogrom.

Socialist Workers Party members joined the action from Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., introducing the Militant and books by party leaders. They raised why the question of Jew-hatred needed to be taken up by the unions and discussed the class-struggle road to fight antisemitism.

“This is a fight for humanity. Jews are being scapegoated with violence and ugly demagogy. Don’t turn a blind eye,” Monica Wasser, a 43-year-old welder from Jacksonville, Florida, told the Militant.

Shep Fargotstein, one of 180 participants from Memphis, Tennessee, said, “Overnight, Jews from around the world are facing antisemitism.” He said he wanted to press the demand, “Bring home the hostages.”

Participants in the action came from Los Angeles to Houston, from New York and Cleveland, and small towns like Egg Harbor, New Jersey, and Inwood, West Virginia. The crowd greatly overflowed the fences authorities put up to contain the protest.

Many described how they have faced Jew-hatred from middle-class radicals who back Hamas’ murderous assault. They also commented on how the liberal press, like the Washington Post, has shifted its focus from the cause of the fighting — Hamas’ slaughter and threats by its leaders to do it again and again until all Jews are gone — onto the disastrous situation facing people in Gaza.

Yaakov Komisar, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and a reservist in the Israel Defense Forces, who was a couple of years too old to be called back to active duty, joined the rally with his son and his son’s friend from a Jewish school in Baltimore. “In the middle of a war, whatever weakness in how the Israeli government treats the Palestinians doesn’t mean you have the right to question Israel’s very existence. This is also what I told my co-workers.”

Hamas shows no concern for the conditions of people in Gaza. They say that’s the problem of the United Nations. Instead, they build tunnels and arms caches under hospitals, schools and other civilian structures. It is Hamas that bears the responsibility for what Palestinians in Gaza face today.

Family members of some of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas were featured speakers. Alana Zeitchik, whose six family members were kidnapped from their kibbutz, told the crowd, “You can abhor the suffering of Palestinian families and the suffering of Israeli families like mine.”

Elisheva Salomon Lerman participated along with her friend, Genet Elias, both Ethiopian Jews who lived in Bat Yam, Israel. “This is against us too. We are also the prisoners of Hamas. This is an attack on Arabs living in Israel,” Lerman said. Some 140,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel and some 21% of the Israeli population is Arab.

Maximo Arango, a Cuban American auto mechanic from Miami, came out to show his support, carrying large Israeli and Cuban flags. “I can tell you this about what I learned growing up. In Cuba, we don’t know this kind of hatred and racism.”

“It’s very beautiful to have everyone here to demonstrate for Israel after what happened on Oct. 7,” said Denny Peñate, originally from El Salvador and currently living in Houston. He came to D.C. to visit his mother and then saw the demonstration. “I’m not Jewish, but I joined in.”

The rally program included Israeli President Isaac Herzog, speaking through a live video feed. Other speakers included political figures like U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and House Speaker Mike Johnson, Hollywood figures and others.

Participants in the protest bought over 115 copies of the Militant and 34 subscriptions. Ten copies of The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation by Abram Leon, a Belgian revolutionary who died in the Auschwitz death camp in 1944, were sold, as well as seven copies of The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us: The Socialist Workers Party Looks Forward. Several people gave donations for the party.

“Working people need to break with the parties of the bosses — the Democrats and Republicans — and build their own parties, here and worldwide, that can lead the fight for workers power and socialism,” Joanne Kuniansky, who was the SWP candidate for the New Jersey State Senate this year, told people she talked to. “Taking political power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers is the only way to put an end to Jew-hatred once and for all.”

Sara Lobman and Mike Galati contributed to this article.