Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), one of the most vocal pro-Israel voices in the U.S. Congress, addressed an estimated 300,000 attendees at the “March for Israel” rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14.
“I want to be crystal-clear: A ceasefire with a terrorist organization is not a peace agreement. It’s a death sentence for Israelis,” said Torres, in a speech that drew much applause. “Everyone who wants Israel to cease to exist is calling for a ceasefire. Our answer to them is ‘No!’”
Torres noted that his district includes a large Jewish community but said he attended the rally “as an American to defend one of our greatest U.S. values, the U.S.-Israel relationship,” which is “an American value encoded in our national DNA.”
The congressman said the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks were “a crime against the Jewish state, indeed against humanity, so barbaric it cannot be ignored.”
“It cannot be unpunished. Hamas must be brought to justice,” he said. “Israel has a right to defend itself, and America has a duty to stand with Israel in her struggle for survival and self-defense.”
Torres called on Israel to do to Hamas what the United States did to ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Nazis.
“No one expected the U.S. to enter a ceasefire with Japan after Pearl Harbor or Al-Qaeda or the Taliban when 3,000 were murdered on 9/11,” he said. “Those who insist that Israel should no longer defend itself are holding the Jewish state to a dangerous double standard that no other country would ever impose on itself.”
Torres noted that the junction of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the modern Israeli state and the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
‘The realization of a dream’
“Those two anniversaries remind me that the Jewish people have long had a dream of Jewish liberation. Theodor Herzl had a dream of emancipation from antisemitism. The Jews who were driven into exile for years had a dream of one day returning to their homeland,” the congressman said.
“We are here to tell the world that Israel is the realization of a dream. Israel is the manifestation of the words ‘Never Again,’ he added. “Israel is the realization of a dream that will live on for the next 75 years and beyond.”
Torres concluded his speech by yelling Am Yisrael chai—“the people of Israel live.”
Organizers said nearly 300,000 people were estimated to be at the march with another 250,000 tuned in to a livestream.
“Due to the difficulty in accurately assessing crowd estimates for large events, the National Park Service does not make crowd estimates for permitted events,” Mike Litterst, chief of communications and spokesman for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, told JNS. “It is left to the discretion of event organizers to make a determination of their event attendance.”