As Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wrapped up her remarks on the National Mall, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) gestured behind her to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) that they would all clasp hands afterward.
When Ernst had finished, the four held hands and lifted their arms up. “We stand with Israel,” they chanted over and over.
The bipartisan group addressed an estimated 300,000 people at the “March for Israel” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14.
Throughout their remarks, they often joined in chants with attendees: “USA,” “Never Again,” “Let them go” and “Bring them home”—both referencing the hostages in Gaza—and Am Yisrael chai, “the People of Israel lives.”
When the world ignored antisemitism in the last century, it led to the “worst catastrophe in human history,” Schumer, the highest-ranking U.S. Jewish official, told the audience.
“Let us not forget history,” he said. He noted that Israel was almost destroyed in 1967 and 1973. “We cannot, we must not let that happen again,” he said.
Even in its darkest days, the United States has always stood with Israel. “We will do everything to see that that never changes,” Schumer said. “When Hamas says ‘From the river to the sea,’ they mean that all of present-day Israel should be a Jew-free land.”
Schumer also called for the release of all of the hostages.
“We in America have your back. America feels your pain. We ache with you,” he said, addressing Israelis. “We stand with you. And we will not rest until you get all the assistance you need.”
“The Jewish people will live forever,” he added.
Johnson said that Israel’s survival unites U.S. leaders, and indeed all Americans. The House speaker said that the United States stands “unequivocally” with Israel.
‘An attack on all of us’
He noted that he and other lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, watched a screening earlier that day of the footage of the brutality of Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. “It’s unspeakable,” Johnson said of the footage. “Most couldn’t sit through it.”
“The calls for a ceasefire are outrageous,” he said. He added that it is irresponsible for U.S. leaders to endorse a phrase like “From the river to the sea,” which calls for the eradication of Israel. (He said he thought many students who use the phrase don’t know what it really means.)
Jeffries said that the Jewish state will endure “always and forever.”
“An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us,” he said.
“Where do we go from here?” Jeffries asked. America must stand with Israel as it decisively defeats Hamas and it must make sure the “brutal terror regime can never rise again” and that every hostage comes home. Then there can be just and lasting peace, Jeffries said.
“We are here today as Republicans and as Democrats to assure you, we will not shrink back and shudder in fear, as too many around the world already have,” Ernst said.
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.”