Congress needs to overcome partisan bickering and pass legislation supporting Israel and the U.S. Jewish community, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told JNS at the “March for Israel” in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14.
“I want Congress to recognize the gravity of this moment, to get the supplemental aid package passed [and] to get the national security supplemental passed so we have the additional funds for nonprofit security grants,” Greenblatt said.
The ADL head told JNS that it is “really amazing” that the Biden administration created a national strategy to combat antisemitism. “There may be a new White House in 12 months,” he said. “We need this now enshrined into law.”
In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel, U.S. President Joe Biden requested that Congress pass supplemental spending packages for foreign aid and domestic national-security needs, including $14.5 billion in aid to Israel and another $200 million for the federal Non-Profit Security Grant Program. The latter hardens security measures at synagogues, day schools and other vulnerable locations.
An Israel aid package passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives with limited bipartisan support, but Senate Democrats blocked it on Tuesday because it lacked aid for Ukraine.
Amid the high-security atmosphere of Tuesday’s rally—with national guard troops, local police, private security guards, four miles of fencing and dump trucks blocking intersections to protect the estimated 290,000 attendees—Greenblatt stated that the United States is experiencing a “frightening” rise in Jew-hatred.
“When people insist that ‘anti-Zionism’ is an acceptable ideology, why are we surprised when people are conditioned to hate Jews? Not Israelis—Jews,” he said. “Why are we surprised when people denigrate and demonize all ‘Zionists’ and then synagogues get desecrated, cemeteries get vandalized?”
“This country has a problem—a deep and serious problem with antisemitism,” he said.
‘Unified in a way the world needs to see’
Despite the ADL recording a 316% increase in antisemitic incidents stateside in October, compared with the same period in 2022, Greenblatt said that Tuesday’s rally is a clear indication that Americans across the political spectrum, both Jewish and non-Jewish, remain supportive of Israel and the Jewish community.
“This is so empowering to see Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish,” he said. “I’ve talked to plenty of people here who told me they came from their church, came from their community to be present among the Jews. You have people here from all political persuasions. You have Jewish people here from different levels of observance—some clearly have no level of observance. You have Jews for all four corners of the country unified in a way that I think the world needs to see.”
The turnout of U.S. Jews supporting Israel in Washington belies the claims of fringe anti-Israel Jewish groups, according to Greenblatt.
“Too often, the media platforms and lifts up the thin sliver of Jews who don’t represent our community, who take positions contrary to the vast majority of us,” he said. “This is our community. This is our country. And to see it here today, covering the entirety of the National Mall, is incredibly, incredibly energizing.”