The largest pro-Israel gathering in history took place on Tuesday at the National Mall in Washington DC on Tuesday. Organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federations of North America, 290,000 people gathered for the “March for Israel” rally to show their support as Israel fights a war against Hamas. An additional 260,000 attended online.
The stated goals of the rally were to support Israel, call for the release of more than 240 hostages taken by Hamas, and combat the recent wave of intense antisemitism.
While such rallies are traditionally attended almost exclusively by Jews, the rise in Christian Zionism meant that many Christians came to stand with Israel in its time of need. Donna Jollay, Israel365’s Christian Relations Director, was thrilled to attend the mega-event.
“Hallelujah, Am Yisrael Chai (the nation of Israel lives),” Jollay said in a video filmed at the event. “During the Holocaust, it wasn’t necessarily the people that perpetrated the horrific events that caused it. It was the people who did nothing that allowed that to happen. And that’s why we are here on the National Mall. To show our support of the Jews and Israel.”
“It’s amazing to see the Jewish people come together like this, the peace and the singing, the praying and the love” she added.
Dr. Susan Michael, the US director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, also attended.
“It was fantastic,” Dr. Michael said. “We had been promoting for a solid week which is very little time to prepare for such an event. But we understood the importance that the Jewish community comes out, but it was also important that they see they have friends from the Christian community, that we were standing with them.”
Dr. Michael explained that at first, many of the Jewish organizations were reluctant to rally, intimidated, and scared by the aggressive anti-Israel protests that dominated the mainstream media.
“There were serious security concerns but the police were out in force,” she said. “It was very, very safe. And people came in huge numbers so we were very, very happy.”
“We were a visible presence as Christians,” she added. “We were able to connect with so many of the Jewish people who were there, just saying to them that we were Christians who stand with Israel. We had a steady line of people going by saying thank you so much for coming. There were a number of people who actually wanted to get our pictures. We were really appreciated. Our attendance was very fulfilling and important.”
“The busses that were hired to take over 900 participants from Dulles International Airport to the site of the March failed to appear, delaying the arrival of many or most in our group. We have learned that this was caused by a deliberate and malicious walk-off of drivers. Fortunately, many were able to travel to the march and we are grateful to the drivers of those buses that arrived. While we are deeply dismayed by the disgraceful action, our resolve to proudly stand with the people of Israel to condemn anti-Semitism and to demand the return of every hostage held by Hamas has never been greater. This has been confirmed by the bus company of their bus drivers and what has happened”
Dr, Michael emphasized that in the Middle East, Israel is surrounded by enemies but, perhaps for the first time in history, Jews are not alone.
“There are millions of Christians around the world that are praying for you and that are heartbroken for you and support Israel,” she said. “It’s a grassroots movement but sometimes, in moments like the rally for Israel, we can come and be seen.”
Dr. Michael emphasized that as a Christian, she had no choice but to stand with Israel.
“As a Christian, it’s the right thing to do,’ she said. “History and the facts are on the Jews’ side. Right now, there’s a twisted narrative against you. That’s just false. And so as Christians, we need to stand for truth. And we do have a bit of a moral obligation here after centuries of Christian antisemitism. Now that antisemitism is rising again, we need to make a stand and call antisemitism for what it is. And, of course, the Bible is just very clear that God’s hand is on these people and if we stand with them and bless them, we’ll be blessed. Just helping the Jews and being a part of their story is a great blessing.”
“When I read the Bible, I see that God’s promises are forever and he says that Israel is the Jews’ everlasting possession. It’s an everlasting covenant. As a Christian, I want to give honor and respect to the roots of our faith, which is the Jewish faith.”
For Shelley Neese, the Vice President of The Jerusalem Connection International (TJCI), the journey to the rally was part of the saga.
“I knew that the rally was going to be a lot bigger than we originally anticipated when I saw that plane tickets to DC became expensive and hard to get. People had to book hotels out in Baltimore, because hotels within DC proper, where it started to become kind of indicative four or five days out. I think like originally, the permit was gonna be for 40,000 And then I heard they changed the permit to ask for 100,000 when you’re there you have no idea how many people are there.”
As noted above, the rally attracted 290,000 people. At first, Neese intended to meet with her Christian associates at David’s Tent, a tent sent up near the Mall for Christian prayer and worship. But it quickly became clear that the crowd was too large to allow for any cohesive subgroups and cell phone coverage was overloaded. At one point, Neese was being interviewed by Jim Scudder for InGrace Now about why she felt compelled to come to stand with Israel. The Jews around her became aware of the interview and a crowd gathered, intensely interested in this phenomenon in their midst. After the interview ended, several Jewish participants approached Neese to thank her. Some of the encounters turned emotional, ending in mutual tears.
Neese met a family whose relative is being held hostage by Hamas. The family was slated to address the rally but were unable to approach the stage as a group of pro-Hamas counter-protesters were blocking the way. Among the counter-protesters were Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Haredi Jews.
Neese was privileged to hear a personal account from the family. The encounter ended emotionally as the family expressed thanks for the Christian support.
Unfortunately, pro-Hamas sentiment is also taking hold in the US. About 900 would-be participants were held up in Dulles airport after bus drivers refused to drive them to the rally.