A large crowd turned out in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday for the March for Israel, with tens of thousands of people gathering to show support for Israel, for the hostages to be freed, and to protest antisemitism, which has increased in the U.S. since thebegan last month.
Renee Levy, who traveled to D.C. from Cincinnati, Ohio, told CBS News she felt it was important to be there with her son and their friends.
“It’s been a really hard time to be Jewish in the U.S. this last month for these kids on college campuses, what they’re having to deal with on top of mourning our dead and being worried about our hostages,” Levy said. “We’re also being attacked everywhere for being Jewish. So to be here with all these people today and stand in solidarity with Israel and to just be together was really important to us.”
What is the March for Israel?
Ahead of the march, the organizers, Jewish Federations of North America and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, estimated 60,000 people were expected to attend, according to the events permit obtained by CBS News.
“The March for Israel will be an opportunity for all Americans to come together in solidarity with the people of Israel, to demonstrate our commitment to America’s most important ally in the Middle East, to condemn the rising trend of antisemitic violence and harassment, and to demand that every hostage be immediately and safely released,” the organizers say on the march’s official website.
After the, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 312 acts of antisemitism in the U.S. through Oct. 23 — 190 of which were directly linked to the Israel-Hamas war.
During that time period, there was also a 338% increase in harassment, vandalism and/or assault, compared to the same time period in 2022,
Hamas, which the U.S. State Department designates as a terrorist organization, took an estimated 240 people hostage from Israel, including a number of Americans and a child as young as 3, according to the White House. Only four of the hostages have been released so far, and negotiations, mediated by Qatar, are
The organizers of the D.C. march encouraged attendees to post about the event on social media using the hashtag #MarchForIsrael. For those who couldn’t attend in person, there was also a live stream.
Participants joined the march from across the U.S., with groups from cities like Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and elsewhere arriving in D.C. by bus.
“It’s incredibly important for us to come together as a collective community and as a nation when there is increasing dehumanization of Israel, there is a rise in antisemitism,” Laura Cherner of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh told. “To have us come together with support from the entire nation is going to be a huge, historic moment.”
More than 4,000 people from the Philadelphia area alone headed to D.C. for the march, according to CBS Philadelphia.
CBS News foreign affairs and State Department correspondent Christina Ruffini, who reported from the march, noted there was also a group of counter-protesters who appeared to be Hasidic men with signs that said “Not in our name,” and “Authentic Rabbis always opposed Zionism and the State of Israel.”
March for Israel safety and security
The march has been designated a SEAR Level One event, meaning there would be a stronger federal law enforcement presence in coordination with local law enforcement, CBS News has confirmed. D.C. police and U.S. Park Police will be on the grounds during the event.
Level One SEAR events are considered “significant events with national and/or international importance that require extensive federal interagency support,” according to Department of Homeland Security, which applies a “risked-based methodology” to determine which events require the additional resources.
There have been no specific threats to the D.C. march, law enforcement officials told CBS News.
“DHS continues to work with stakeholders across the United States to share timely information and resources to enhance safety for their communities,” a Homeland Security spokesperson told CBS News in a statement. “The U.S. remains in a heightened threat environment and recent events reinforce that. As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, we have seen an increase in reports of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions. Lone offenders, motivated by a range of violent ideologies, pose the most likely threat. We urge the public to stay vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement.”
During an on-camera Pentagon briefing on Tuesday, deputy Pentagon pess secretary Sabrina Singh said the Department of Defense approved a request for 30 D.C. National Guard members to provide traffic and crowd management support to the city’s police department, with six additional guard personnel from the Civil Support Team also assisting at the event.
Other protests in support of Israel and Palestinians
The war has sparkedand around the world. Last month, at the start of the war, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups held dueling protests in New York City, demonstrating outside of the United Nations, in Times Square and at other landmarks,
A pro-Palestinian march in D.C. drew attendees from several U.S. cities on Nov. 3, with demonstrators calling on President Biden to end all aid to Israel, according to CBS affiliate WUSA.
On Sunday,— including 100,000 in Paris — held peaceful protests against antisemitism.