ZOA at the 300,000-Strong Extraordinary, Inspiring Pro-Israel Washington, D.C. Rally
News Press Release
November 16, 2023

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

The ZOA is proud of many of our leaders and members, and over 300,000 Americans from throughout the country who attended the massive, historic #MarchforIsrael rally in Washington, D.C., to support Israel’s efforts to defeat the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization, oppose antisemitism here and abroad, and demand the immediate release of the hostages. #BringThemHomeNOW! The rally organizers and every organization and individual involved deserves tremendous credit!

Here are some excerpts from several of the many memorable speeches, and our comments:

Former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky’s meaningful speech: Sharansky eloquently recalled that in the same spot where 300,000 people were now gathered to support Israel, some 250,000 people gathered in 1987 to declare, “Let my people go!” in support of Soviet Jewry, giving strength to him and other prisoners of the Soviet regime. “Many of your grandfathers fought for our freedom. Many of your parents fought for our freedom. Many of you fought for our freedom. It is clear that as long as we stand together and fight together, we will win. This is what gives us hope today in Israel.”

Sharansky also spoke about the terrible problems on American campuses: “Today, the legitimacy for regimes like Hamas comes from Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Penn and all these centers.” But he reassured the crowd: “We defeated the Soviet Union – we will defeat our enemies today!

House Speaker Mike Johnson’s excellent, insightful speech explained: “. . . As Netanyahu said so well, this is a fight between good and evil, between light and darkness, between civilization and barbarism.” . . . The calls for a ceasefire are outrageous. (Audience chanting “No ceasefire.”) We stand with you on that. Hamas terrorists waged the bloodiest assault on Jewish lives since the Holocaust, and there are hundreds of hostages, many of them Americans, still stuck inside Gaza. Israel will cease its counteroffensive when Hamas ceases to be a threat to the Jewish state. . . .”

Absolutely! No ceasefire until the Hamas threat ceases and every hostage is home!

Senator Joni Ernst’s important speech about the need for continued steadfast support for Israel: She noted that during her visit to Israel shortly after October 7th, hostage families and all concerned implored: “Do not let the United States cower, when the rest of the world starts to. Stand steadfastly in your solidarity.

Senator Ernst then expressed that solidarity: “How anyone in America could sympathize with these terrorists is truly unfathomable. Friends, there should not be a shred of antisemitism in our country. Not now, not ever. . . . Not only today, but in the coming weeks and months, as Israel fights to secure their most basic human right, the right to life, the United States must remain resolute. In the Senate, we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you, our Jewish friends in Israel, the United States and around the world. . . .”

Similarly, Pastor John Hagee delivered this vital, principled message: “The leaders of Israel, you should determine how this war is to be conducted and concluded. You decide, and no one else. . . . When America was attacked in World War II, victory was our only aim, and Israel should be afforded that same opportunity. For history has shown that without victory, there is no survival. Israel’s victory will come when all the hostages are safely home. Victory [will come when the terror tunnels have been destroyed. Israel’s victory will come when Hamas and Hezbollah are in the ash heap of history, along with Haman and Hitler. There is no substitute for victory. . . . G-d bless the Jewish state.”

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke the right words, vowing:We in America have your back. We will not rest until you get all the assistance you need.”

But the previous week, and on the very same morning and evening that Senator Schumer promised this needed assistance, all 51 Democratic Senators including Senator Schumer blocked consideration of the urgent, stand-alone Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act that the House of Representatives had passed on November 2nd. We urge Majority Leader Schumer to fulfill his important promise, by bringing up and passing in the Senate this stand-alone supplemental aid to Israel bill, instead of holding up aid to Israel, by tying this aid to Biden’s proposed large appropriations for other causes.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries likewise initially said the right words of support for Israel, saying:Hamas brutally attacked Israel on October 7th because Hamas wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. So let me be clear. We will never let that happen. Congress will continue to support, in a bipartisan way, the state of Israel, and Israel’s unequivocal right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state always and forever. Always and forever. Always and forever.

But then, Jeffries claimed: “From the very beginning of this conflict, President Joe Biden has strongly supported the state of Israel.” This claim was unfortunately misplaced: On the same day as the #MarchforIsrael rally, Biden approved $10 billions of sanctions relief for the Iranian terror regime.  

Jeffries also openly stated that he supported Biden’s troubling plan to tie aid to Israel to other funding requests, instead of supporting the stand-alone aid-for-Israel bill, saying, “And I strongly support President Biden’s supplemental funding request, for Israel, for Ukraine and for humanitarian assistance.

Also concerningly, Jeffries appeared to be calling for a Palestinian state after Hamas is defeated. Such a state would replace one terror regime with another terror regime. Jeffries stated: “We must stand with Israel in its effort to decisively defeat Hamas. And make sure that this brutal terrorist regime can never rise again. We must make sure that every single hostage is returned home safely. And then we must stand together to secure a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.”   

Iranian, Argentinian/Egyptian Jewish women, hostage families and others spoke out: Hostage families who spoke of their torment once again reminded us that the hostages must be released! #BringThemHomeNow!

An Iranian Jewish women spoke about the Iranian Islamic regime’s horrendous treatment of its Jews – hanging innocent Jews on trumped up charges, and causing her family and tens of thousands of other Jews to flee, leaving their businesses, homes and ancient communities behind.

It was important to hear from Michal Biton, a Jewish immigrant from Argentina, whose parents had fled Egypt’s persecution of Jews. Ms. Biton’s friend’s father was murdered in the infamous AMIA Jewish Center bombing perpetrated by Hezbollah and Iran; Ms. Biton noted that these terrorists have never been brought to justice. She noted that “America and Israel became our safe havens,” and vowed to fight back against today’s terror in America’s streets and universities.

Actress Tovah Feldshuh also strongly called out the university presidents who fail to take a strong stand and action against antisemitism.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s location-challenged speech: Herzog said, “I am speaking to you from the single most sacred site in the Jewish world – the Kotel, the western wall in Jerusalem. The Kotel . . . the Jewish symbol of fulfillment of our ancient dreams. . .”

In fact, Judaism’s most sacred site is the Temple Mount, where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood for over a millennia. But Herzog was close. The Kotel was the Temple Mount’s retaining wall. And speaking from Jerusalem was an important reminder that Jerusalem is the Jewish people’s eternal capital.

Biden’s Combatting Antisemitism Envoy Deborah Lipstadt: Amb. Lipstadt invoked Geoge Washington’s assurances to the Jewish community that America would be a place where Jews are free of harassment, and spoke out that antisemitism must be given no sanction: “This government stands shoulder to shoulder against Jew-hatred. . . . When Jewish children are harassed. . . that is not expressing support for Palestinian rights; that is Jew-hatred.”  

However, Lipstadt then issued the following unnecessary and inappropriate warning to the Jewish community: “Let me be clear: Do not sink to the level of those who harass you. Do not tear down posters. Do not intimidate those who disagree with you. Do not block their path or taunt them as they do to you.” Jews are not running around intimidating Jew-haters or tearing down antisemitic posters. It is insulting, bizarre and contrary to her combating antisemitism position that Lipstadt would imply such a thing.

CNN Commentator Van Jones’ speech remembered Jews’ civil rights work; strongly opposed antisemitism here; but then engaged in inappropriate Israel-Hamas moral equivalence: Van Jones stated: “I don’t want to be silent. Because the Jewish community stood with the civil rights movement. Walking arm in arm, facing death, going to jail. The Jewish community stood with the civil rights movement. And I cannot be silent when Jews fall under attack today. I just can’t do it. That’s why I’m here. And that’s why I’m here. Now whatever our different political beliefs and views are about what’s happening overseas, you do not have to love and support the policies of Israel to support and love the people of Israel during a time of profound mourning. That’s why I’m here. Now like all of us as was just said, my heart breaks for all the Israeli children. My heart breaks for all the Palestinian children. And my heart breaks for all the Jewish American children who are now also living in fear. I pray that every single hostage is released. I pray that. I pray that. [Crowd chanting bring them home] Bring ‘em home. Bring ‘em home. And I also pray that Hamas ends its reign of terror. I pray that. I pray that. And I have to say, I’m a peace guy. I’m a peace guy. I pray for peace.  No more rockets from Gaza. And no more bombs falling down on the people of Gaza. [Crowd chants “No Ceasefire” in reaction to this and the next statements essentially calling for a ceasefire.] You’ve got to protect the children. You’ve got to protect the children. Let’s end all horror, and all the heartbreak in the holy land. Let’s end all of it. Let’s end all of it. . . .”

Regarding antisemitism in the U.S.: “Let’s take a stand here against anti-Jewish bigotry…. I don’t want any Jewish mother to be afraid here to drop her baby off at the JCC. . . . I don’t want any Jewish son to be afraid to leave his dorm room and go to the Hillel center for a meal. I don’t want that. I don’t want that. . . .”

We very much appreciate Van Jones’ strong statements opposing anti-Jewish bigotry in the U.S. and reminding people about the Jewish people’s strong support for Black civil rights. But shame on Jones for equating Israel’s targeted strikes on Hamas terrorists to Hamas’ rockets aimed at Jewish civilians, and calling for what amounts to a ceasefire. Israel goes to extraordinary lengths, endangering her own soldiers’ lives, to protect Gazan civilians. There should be no ceasefire until Hamas can never fire another rocket or murder another innocent Israeli!

Interestingly, despite Van Jones’ inappropriate swipe at Israel during his speech, Islamists and other Jew-haters such as Max Blumenthal viciously attacked Van Jones on social media for appearing at the rally and opposing antisemitism in America. How telling!

It was also horrendous that bus drivers refused to take Jews who flew in from Detroit from the airport to the rally.

But all told, the day was a great showing of support for Israel and the hostages, and for combating antisemitism in America and around the world. Kol HaKavod!

  • Center for Law & Justice
    We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
    We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
    We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
    We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.