Many of the speakers who came to Washington D.C. Sunday for what was labeled “No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People” said that the anti-Semitism that has taken place in recent months in the U.S. cannot be allowed to continue. Several thousand gathered on the National Mall, near the U.S. Capitol building, and heard speakers who were often defiant in their tone.
Melissa Landa, co-organizer of the event, director of Alliance For Israel, said when it comes to violence against Jews, the community has had enough.
“We have gathered today in the nation’s capital,” Landa said at the rally, “…to proclaim our refusal to accept a life of fear, intimidation and submission to those whose hatred of us compel them to harass our children on college campuses, and beat them up in the streets, attack our rabbis inside their synagogues and outside Jewish day schools and spread vicious lies about us the in the hallowed halls of Congress.
“We stand here bound together by a 5,000-year history and a shared promise to our children that they will be free to live as proud Jews and exercise their religious liberties granted by the United States Constitution – free to wear their yarmulkes and Magen Davids and free to speak about their love of Israel without being attacked in the streets of New York or Los Angeles.”
She said that elected officials such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib “desecrate their oath of office” with their hateful words.
“We have had enough,” Landa said.
Co-organizer Elisha Wiesel, the son of famed Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, said the “enemies of the Jewish people have united us,” and that Jews would not be silent in the face of hate.
Jews should not accept a two-state solution that would leave Jews defenseless, he noted, but should also not hate Palestinians or ignore their rights, calling them “our cousins.” He then spoke of his father’s love of Israel and hopes for peace.
“When bombs rained on Israel, whether it was 1967 or 1973 or 1990, my father always flew to Israel to stand with our people,” he said, adding that he met with Jordanian leaders, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, to try to start backchannel peace negotiations.
“My father lived through the darkest of nights and he never gave up on his dream for a better world,” Wiesel said. “He fought for us with his pen, he fought for us with his voice and he fought by bringing people together. But most of all, he fought by living a proud Jewish life….”
He said his father’s message to him was also the Shema prayer:
“You shall love G-d with all your heart, your soul and your resources.”
Israeli actress Noa Tishby said she thought of her great-grandfather Nachum who was sent into prison in Siberia because he was Jewish.
“Back then there was no Jewish state to blame,” Tishby said.
She then went after those on social media who have defamed Israel: “When ignorant crowds and some supermodels on Instagram hatefully and irresponsibly spread these lies about Zionism… when they engage in the modern day libel of blaming Israel as a genocidal state, they shouldn’t be surprised when that demonization results in Jews being attacked on the streets of this beloved country, and it has to stop.”
Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late senator John McCain and until recently a member of ABC’s “The View,” said that it’s important to call out people on the Right and the Left who are anti-Semitic, but the media and politicians are failing to call out anti-Semitism.
“People who I work with are taking their mezuzahs down from their homes because they are scared of what’s going to happen to their children inside,” McCain said. “We see what’s happening because it has happened globally. It’s happening in Europe and we will not let it happen here in the United States of America. We cannot be quiet. We cannot be silent and first and foremost we cannot be scared.”
She said that in one of her last conversations with her father before he died, he said to keep the flame of Israel burning.
Rabbi Shlomo Nogorski, a Chabad rabbi who was stabbed eight times in Brighton, Boston, got big cheers when he spoke about how he was attacked outside his facility which was a school and hosted a camp. He spoke about how the terrorist tried to kidnap him.
“I am still very weak and in pain,” he told the crowd. “…In those moments, in front of my eyes were the faces of the 100 Jewish children in the camp. I knew I had to protect them and I did everything to keep him away from the school. The real target of this killer was the children. Thank G-d, I was exactly standing there and ruining his plans to kill Jewish children on American soil.”
He said he experienced anti-Semitism in Russia and never expected to experience it again in America.
Joshua Washington, executive director of the Institute for Black Solidarity With Israel, told the crowd not to “concede a single inch of humanity or identity.”
Talia Raab, a high school junior who organized a walk for Israel in Napersville, Illinois, told the crowd she received hateful messages online, filled with detailed threats to her life. “As a young 17-year-old girl, I was petrified seeing these comments,” she said. “But I did not let them silence me.”
After the walk, she said, protestors burned her flags and attacked her car and others, chanting “Kill The Jews.”
She said that for the first time she feared for her life, and if not for her brother protecting her until police arrived, she did not know what would have happened.
She noted that her grandmother’s prayer while hiding during the Holocaust was why couldn’t she be born a dog instead of a Jewish girl; people would take in a dog and feed it but not a Jewish girl, whose fate could be worse than death.
“I refuse to be silent. I refuse to let them win…. This time we are free. This time we are strong. This time we will not be silenced. We are fueled by love. Love for our people, love for our heritage and love for our homeland that triumphs their hate….”
Raab’s brother, Daniel, told the crowd he will be joining the Israeli Army in a month. He quoted the past week’s parsha when Moshe rhetorically asked the descendants of Gad and Reuven: “Your brothers should go to war while you all stay here?” He said Jews in America must not be apathetic. “As former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem begin said: ‘I am not a Jew with trembling knees….'”
Matthew Haverim, who said his parents fled Iran, spoke about eating at a Los Angeles restaurant in May when a pro-Palestinian mob asked people at his table if they were Jewish. They stood up and answered “Yes!”
The four at his table were attacked by 15 people. He said his friend, Maher, who is not Jewish but is Armenian and Lebanese, tried to help them but was attacked and then hospitalized, while Haverim’s cousin was in the hospital due to repeated kicks to his head.
“I got away lucky with just a couple of punches to my face,” Haverim said. “…Why did I stand? Because I am a Jew and should have no reason to fear saying it. If you ask me if I’m Jewish, my answer will always be yes.”
He said on Passover we read in the “Vehi she’amda” about how in every generation enemies rise up, and now they are rising up in this generation. He thanked his friend Maher who helped fight for them when it was not his fight.
Former white supremacist and godson of David Duke, Derek Black, spoke about how being invited to a Shabbat dinner helped change his radical views. “This ideology is responsible for Charlottesville when people shouted Jews will not replace us,” he said. “We are here today because we do not let fear rule our lives.”
Hussein Abubakr Mansour, who was born in Egypt, told the crowd he is a Zionist. He said growing up, anti-Semitism was the default position for many. Many movies when he was a child were about international Jewish conspiracies to dominate media and politics. He eventually saw anti-Semitism as a toxic force.
“I learned that anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem. It’s everybody’s problem and everyone must do everything to stop such a mad delusion.”
He said he left Egypt and moved to the United States in 2012, thinking he’d left behind anti-Semitism only to see it rising at a dazzling pace. Coverage of Israel in America reminds him of what he used to see on Al Jazeera as as child, he said.
“Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism whether it comes from a black, brown or a white person. Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism whether it comes from a Christian, a Muslim, an atheist or even from a Jew, whether a Democrat or Republican….”
Ysabella Hazan said she was there because her family is among 850,000 Mizrachi Jews who fled the Middle East and North Africa for their life due to Jew-hatred.
“I am angry that in 2021, it is no different,” she said. “I am angry that in Montreal my friend had to plead for her life as she was cornered in an alley by eight racist men. I am angry that Jews in L.A. are attacked at restaurants. And I am angry that Jews in New York are beaten on the streets. I am angry that in France, Sarah Halimi’s murderer walks free. I am angry Israeli children run to bomb shelters praying for a tomorrow. I am angry Jewish and Israeli institutions are vandalized with no condemnations from officials. I am angry a rabbi was stabbed and held at gunpoint in America in 2021.”
The event was simulcast live online.