Edited by: Fern Sidman
The “No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity With The Jewish People” against the egregious plague of anti-Semitism in Washington, DC on Sunday attracted thousands of people on the National Mall next to the Capitol Building.
Supported by more than 60 advocacy groups, including the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, The Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Democratic Council of America, Jewish National Fund, Republican Jewish Coalition, Stand with Us, Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, etc, the rally’s main organizer was the Alliance For Israel.
“We are coming together to stand in solidarity with the Jewish people; stand against anti-Semitism and for Jewish security, dignity and peace around the world,” the event’s website states.
“We stand against all hatred. We know that we cannot truly defeat anti-Semitism if we allow other forms of hatred within our midst. This coalition has come together across ideological divides but our stance on hate is unified and absolute,” the organizers wrote.
“This coalition will not tolerate expressions of racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia or any other hate,” they added. “We recognize that when we talk about inclusion, we are talking not just about being good neighbors or good allies, but being inclusive to our own Jewish community.”
Representatives from a broad swath of political and religious organizations were on hand on this oppressively hot day to focus their remarks on the unprecedented levels of anti-Semitism in the United States and across the world. Many attribute this wave of reprehensible Jew hatred to the animus shown towards Israel during the military conflict in May between the Jewish state and Iranian-backed terror organizations in Gaza such as Hamas.
The Jerusalem Post reported that among the confirmed speakers at the event were Elisha Wiesel, the son of the late Elie Wiesel; Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; Ron Halber, executive director at the JCRC of Greater Washington; Norm Coleman, chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition; and Ron Klein, chairman of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, among others.
Although many attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, schools, museums, synagogues and cemeteries can be related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, a significant portion of the attacks on Jews emanate from classical anti-Semitism and the vociferous hatred towards Jews for no other reason than the fact that they are Jews.
On Thursday, it was reported by Masslive.com that Khaled Awad, an illegal Egyptian immigrant who was accused of stabbing Rabbi Shlomo Noginski eight times in Boston, was charged with a civil rights violation with injury and armed assault and battery. Awad, 24, of the Brighton section of Boston had been known to harbor tremendous hatred towards Jews, Christians and American culture, prosecutors said in court as reported by WCVB. District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who was present in the courtroom for the hearing, is currently investigating whether the incident was a hate crime.
At the rally, Rabbi Noginski said that for each of his stab wounds, that there would be eight more rabbis ordained and that the response to Jew hatred is to show the anti-Semite that his attacks will not vanquish the Jewish people, but rather will inspire the Jewish nation to grow and become stronger in their faith, while taking pride in their glorious heritage.
One of the many speakers that addressed the assemblage in Washington was Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late Arizona senator John McCain and one of the hosts of the morning television talk show, “The View.”
“We will not let anti-Semitism happen here in the United States of America,” said McCain. “We cannot be quiet, we cannot be silent, and first and foremost above all else, we cannot be scared. I’m here to tell all of you, you’re not alone… I’m not Jewish, but I can see how scary it is.”
The Times of Israel reported that McCain stressed the importance of calling out anti-Semitism on both the right and the left, and said increasingly people are unable to condemn hatred of Jews “in their own party.”
Elisha Wiesel, business executive and son of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel told the crowd, “Looking out at all of you today it becomes clear that instead of dividing us, the enemies of the Jewish people, whether from the right or the left, at home or abroad, they have instead united us.
“Here we stand, a coalition of Jews and our allies from all backgrounds, all political beliefs, and all religious affiliations, who have come together to stand up to anti-Semitism. This coalition will not be silenced whether Jews are facing violence in Los Angeles, or Brooklyn, or Paris or Tel Aviv. It won’t be silent whether Jews are being attacked in our synagogues, on our streets, on our campuses, or on the floor of the House of Representatives,” Wiesel added, according to a report on the Israel National News web site.
Erika Moritsugu, a Deputy Assistant to President Biden told the crowd, “As President Biden so often says, ‘silence is complicity’”. Each and every one of you attending this rally today in person or virtually understands that shared responsibility to come together, speak out, and fight the evil of anti-Semitism. The Biden-Harris administration stands with you and the Jewish community.”
INN also reported that in a show of unity, Joshua Washington, Executive Director of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, and Rabbi Menachem Creditor, UJA Federation of NY scholar in residence, appeared on stage together and led the crowd in singing, “Kol Ha’Olam Kulo Gesher Tzar Meod,” meaning, “The whole entire world is a very narrow bridge and the main thing is to have no fear at all.”
William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations, was one of many organizational leaders to call on the Biden administration to appoint a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, a position that has yet to be filled since the president took office, as was reported by the Jerusalem Post.
“Nominating and confirming the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism as soon as possible is a top priority for the Jewish community. Given the rise in anti-Semitism across the globe, it is essential that the envoy be in place without further delay,” Daroff said.
“As someone who has been around Washington for a few decades, I can attest that it often takes new administrations many months to fill key positions. In fact, it took the last administration 15 months to appoint their special envoy,” he noted, according to the JPost report.
“I am hopeful that the new administration, which has not yet passed the six-month mark, will announce their nominee soon, so he or she can get to work combating the odious scourge of anti-Semitism.”
Former Senator Norm Coleman of the Republican Jewish Coalition said, “The fight against anti-Semitism is not a partisan issue. We stand united in the belief that each of us has a responsibility to call out anti-Semitism in the political arena, whether it is in our own party or whether it rears its ugly face on the other side of the aisle.”
The Times of Israel reported that Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington said: “None of us should need to be at a rally against anti-Semitism in 2021. “But we do need to be here. Because we must again respond to vile rhetoric, physical attacks and symbols of hatred against our people.”
In a statement sent to the media, Joanne Kuniansky, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of New Jersey said, “Today we see acts of Jew-hatred both from rightists and middle-class liberals and radicals. On the left there are actions raising the Hamas slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”— free of Jews, they mean. We urge working people to oppose these actions as a deadly danger to advancing the class interests and solidarity of all workers and toiling farmers in the Middle East — Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, Kurds, and others.”
Others in the crowd had differing opinions on how to effectively spotlight and combat anti-Semitism. “I am quite concerned about the dramatic escalation in anti-Semitic attacks, both on the physical level and on the cognitive front, “ said Pinchas Korochevsky of Brooklyn, who drove down with friends to attend the DC rally.
“Let’s be really honest. Every time you turn around you hear of professors at distinguished universities railing against Israel; you hear about petitions being circulated against Israel, you hear the most hideous propaganda being disseminated about Jews in the halls of academia, in the national discourse and in the Congress, “ he said.
He added that, “I do not think rallies such as this will really help unless there is more follow up. In other words, we need to have weekly rallies against Jew hatred in every major city across this country. We need rabbis and lay leaders to come together and get people out for this. Just for argument sake, I would say that if I were a person who wanted to run for elected office and wanted to gauge the support for Israel and the determination to really take on Jew hatred, I would think that based on today’s attendance, support for Israel is significantly waning and if only a paltry number of people showed up today to express their angst about the rise in anti-Semitism, then people really don’t care.”