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Here’s what to know about the pro-Israel rally in D.C. on Tuesday

Thousands of people are expected to rally Tuesday in Washington to show solidarity with Israel, express their resolve in combating a rise in antisemitism and demand the release of hostages abducted by Hamas.

The rally, organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, comes amid a deepening war in Gaza. Although thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters recently marched in the nation’s capital to demand a cease-fire, President Biden has supported Israel in rejecting those demands.

“We expect there to be a massive crowd that will engage on these issues and ensure that America knows where we stand,” said William Daroff, chief executive of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Organizers anticipate that 100,000 people will attend the event on the National Mall, according to a permit issued by the National Park Service. City officials also expect tens of thousands of people to attend the rally, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said at a news conference on Monday. D.C. police requested the assistance of the National Guard, which will be supporting some traffic safety points, Bowser said.

Biden swiftly supported Israel after Hamas militants broke through Israel’s border on Oct. 7, abducting about 240 people and killing 1,200 during the attack. Four hostages have been released, and Israel has said it rescued one soldier in an operation. Since then, more than 11,000 people in Gaza have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Harassment, vandalism and assaults against Jews soared by nearly 400 percent during the weeks after the Hamas attack, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, which catalogues antisemitic, white-supremacist and other hate-driven incidents and is promoting the march on its website. Oren Segal, vice president of the Center on Extremism, said this spike in antisemitism has also been seen at protests that include the “glorification, celebration or legitimization of Hamas’s brutal violence against Israelis and Jews.”

“One of the things that antisemitic incidents do is make people feel isolated, vulnerable, alone,” Segal said. “This [rally] is not intended to be a counterbalance to the hate that we’ve seen. I think this is for the Jewish community, to have an opportunity to thank people but also to mourn together.”

From boycotts to firebombs, Israel-Gaza war brings wave of antisemitism

Tuesday’s event in Washington, called the “March for Israel,” will be an opportunity for rallygoers to condemn hate and show they are united behind the Jewish state. Here’s what else you need to know about the protest.

When and where is the rally?

The rally on the National Mall, between Fourth and 12th streets, will begin at 1 p.m. and last until 3 p.m. The area will open for demonstrators to arrive at 10 a.m., and organizers recommend that people allow time to get through security. There will also be a pre-event rally for students at 11:30 a.m. There is no march planned.

The main entrance to the rally will be on 12th Street NW between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW. There is also an area designated for people with accessibility needs with an entrance at Sixth Street SW and Jefferson Drive SW.

A “peace bloc” composed of members of the “progressive Jewish community” plans to meet ahead of the rally across from the National Museum of American History on the National Mall, Maytal Kowalski, the incoming executive director for Partners for Progressive Israel, wrote in a message to the group’s mailing list.

“We intensively debated whether to join this rally,” Kowalski wrote, adding that the group’s members will show up to “share our messages of peace, of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and making it clear that there is no military solution to this political and national conflict.”

Organizers said on the Park Service permit application that they expect “a significant security presence, significant ‘bikerack’ barriers around our permitted location, and other security features,” to separate counterprotesters from rallygoers.

“Obviously tensions are high as a result of the incursion into Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7th,” organizers wrote on the permit application. “We’ll have a LOT of professional security contracted for this event.”

The Palestinian Youth Movement’s local chapter posted a statement on Instagram discouraging supporters from engaging with the March for Israel.

Rally organizers will also be distributing Israeli and American flags for attendees, but specified that rallygoers are not permitted to bring flagpoles or wooden stakes.

Will there be street closures?

There will be street closures and parking restrictions in the area near the rally. More information can be found on the D.C. police website.

People can also sign up for the AlertDC notification system for traffic and public safety updates by texting MARCHDC to 888-777.

What is the purpose of the rally?

Those rallying on Tuesday will emphasize the urgent need to release the hostages captured by Hamas more than a month ago.

Earlier this month, relatives of Israelis abducted by Hamas traveled to Washington to urge the international community to maintain pressure and demand the release of their family members. This rally also comes after thousands of people rallied in Washington on Nov. 4, demanding a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war and an end to American aid to Israel, in what appeared to be one of the largest expressions of American solidarity with the Palestinian people to date.

“It’s been over 30 days that parents have been without their children,” said Eric Fingerhut, president and chief executive of the Jewish Federations of North America. “This battle against Hamas is essential not only to Israel, but to America.”

The organizers said they will also be expressing their gratitude toward Biden and American lawmakers who have backed the Jewish state and will urge them to continue supporting Israel.

Since the onset of war, the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass resolutions in support of Israel, and at least 18 senators and four House members have traveled to the Jewish state. The Biden administration has also asked Congress to approve $14 billion in emergency military assistance for Israel.

Israel is the largest beneficiary of U.S. aid, having received approximately $150 billion in taxpayer assistance as of 2022, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan agency.

Half of registered voters in the United States approve of Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attack, while 35 percent disapprove, according to Quinnipiac University polling released earlier this month. However, these views vary sharply by partisanship, race and age, with the lowest approval seen among Democrats (33 percent), voters ages 18 to 34 (32 percent) and Black voters (29 percent).

At the same time, the polling shows, 51 percent of voters support the United States sending more military aid to Israel, and 71 percent of voters support providing humanitarian aid to help Palestinians in Gaza.

Who will speak at the rally?

The speakers will include relatives of people taken hostage by Hamas, bipartisan congressional leaders, college students, actress Debra Messing, Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh and Rochelle Ford, the president of Dillard University, among others.

Organizers have not yet provided details on a possible live stream.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Israel-Gaza war

Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, “is not functioning” after days without power, water or reliable internet, the World Health Organization said. Understand what’s behind the Israel-Gaza war.

Hostages: Officials say Hamas militants abducted about 239 hostages in a highly organized attack. Four hostages have been released — two Americans and two Israelis — as families hold on to hope. One released Israeli hostage recounted the “spiderweb” of Gaza tunnels she was held in.

Humanitarian aid: The Palestine Red Crescent Society said it has received over 370 trucks with food, medicine and water in the Gaza Strip through Egypt’s Rafah crossing. However, the PRCS said, there hasn’t been permission yet to bring in fuel to power the enclave’s hospitals, water pumps, taxis and more.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has a complicated history, and its rulers have long been at odds with the Palestinian Authority, the U.S.-backed government in the West Bank. Here is a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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