Giving thanks for support and solidarity: Friends of Jews and Israel stand strong together

In the United States, entire relief operations formed virtually overnight.

Nearly 300,000 people attended the "March for Israel" rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Shay Shohat/Flash90.
Nearly 300,000 people attended the "March for Israel" rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Shay Shohat/Flash90.

“It’s important that the Jewish people know Christians stand with them because the Jewish people stand for life, they stand for democracy, they stand for freedom.”

— Mark Moore, Christian pastor from Chicago at the “March for Israel” rally in Washington, D.C.

The global surge of hatred towards Jews since Oct. 7, fueled by unbridled bigotry and the denial of Israel’s right to exist, has cast a new shadow on Jewish history. Amid that darkness, many bright lights have also emerged—support of Jews and Israel shines brightly against a backdrop of hate and propaganda. As many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving this week, these heroes, supporters and champions deserve our deep gratitude and sincere appreciation.

March for Israel Rally in Washington, D.C.

The pro-Israel rally on Nov. 14 serves as a reminder to Jews worldwide that we are not alone, with keynote speakers ranging from U.S. government officials and celebrities to campus activists and loved ones of the hostages. The crowd brought together American Jews, Christian supporters of Israel and a diverse blend of supporters gathering in unity from across the country to support Israel, demand the release of hostages and condemn antisemitism. Nearly 300,000 people gathered on the National Mall—the same number of Israeli reservists who left their families to fight for their country.

Strong bipartisan political support was led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York; House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican; House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York; and Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican. U.S. Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt stated from the rally podium:“Hate is not a zero-sum game. Hate and violence directed at any member of our society because of who they are is un-American and wrong.”

Among the speakers at the rally, Rachel Goldberg, mother of kidnapped hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, shared chilling words that are hard to forget: “We hostage families have lived the last 39 days in slow-motion torment. We all have third-degree burns on our souls. Our hearts are bruised and seeping with misery. But the real souls that are suffering are the hostages … .”

Famed Israeli singers Ishay Ribo and Omer Adam performed, offered strength and hope by sharing encouraging words in Hebrew and leading the crowd aloud in reciting Psalm 121—that conveys a sense of trust in God’s care and protection throughout life’s journey. They also sang in tribute to ZAKA members—Israel’s medical first responders at many scenes of the massacres helping to locate and collect dead bodies and treating the wounded.

At pro-Israel rallies across the country, a sea of both Israeli and American flags wave together in solidarity, but these are the same flags burned at pro-Hamas rallies where only Palestinian flags are flown. A pro-Hamas rally celebrating hate and angrily promoting murder stands in stark contrast to the rally for Israel that promoted unity and solidarity. This event was held a few days after the Anti-Defamation League released a report on the shocking spike in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. since Oct. 7, citing a 316% increase from last year during the same time frame.

President Biden Unwaveringly Stands With Israel

Receiving both staunch criticism and unwavering praise, President Joe Biden has steadfastly stood strong in his support of Israel and reminds Americans of the U.S. commitment to remain Israel’s ally. In a letter signed by 137 former U.S. officials, Biden’s support of Israel is applauded by others in his party. The letter also expresses gratitude for the president’s statement following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas: “My commitment to Israel’s security and the safety of the Jewish people is unshakeable. The United States has Israel’s back. And I have yours as well, both at home and abroad.”

The United States sends $3.8 billion a year in aid to its ally Israel, and the Biden administration has petitioned Congress for an additional $14.3 billion. Since the Hamas war on Israel began, the Biden administration sent two aircraft carrier strike forces—the USS Ford and USS Eisenhower—to the Eastern Mediterranean, including at least one guided missile cruiser and five destroyers along with support frigates and are staffed by at least 4,500 U.S. Navy sailors. The administration also has worked tirelessly to broker peace and for the release of the hostages held by Hamas.

“We stand firmly with the Israeli people as they defend themselves against the murderous nihilism of Hamas,” stated Biden, adding that “the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own and a future free from Hamas. I, too, am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children.”

Volunteers in the U.S. and Israel: A United Network of Support

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have been working in the United States, in Israel and around the world day and night to coordinate logistics and organize intricate networks of resources. In the United States, entire relief operations formed practically overnight. Volunteers came together to provide vitally needed medical supplies and tactical gear for Israeli soldiers.

March for Israel
More than 290,000 people attended the “March for Israel” rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Shay Shohat/Flash90.

In Bergen County, N.J., one organization sent more than 3,500 duffle bags filled with donated supplies for soldiers have been shipped to Israel. More than 60 tons of medical supplies and humanitarian relief have been sent along with 1,700 letters and drawings from New Jersey school children and individuals thanking the Israel Defense Forces. Through the website ShoppingforIsrael.com more than $250,000 have been raised and orders placed, which are delivered directly to IDF soldiers.

Dozens of families have still chosen to immigrate to Israel amid war and call it their new home. Christian Zionist cowboys have flown in to help with farms where the farmers are serving as soldiers. In one month, 100 young Jewish men and women from the Diaspora who have decided to immigrate to Israel will put on their uniforms and join the IDF.

Campus Hate, Now Under Investigation

Jewish students on many university campuses across North America have feared going to class and feel unsafe walking to their own dorms. The ADL reported that it has tracked 124 incidents of antisemitism on college campuses in the past month following Oct. 7, compared with only 12 incidents during the same period last year. Even before the Hamas attacks, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has faced bipartisan criticism for its failure to process and address the backlog of antisemitism complaints in a timely way amidst rising campus antisemitism.

Cornell University, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania are among the seven schools now facing a U.S. Education Department probe, with five of the incidents being allegations of antisemitism on campus. Complaints were filed by Jewish on Campus and The Louis Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. The department also held a virtual hourlong briefing with Jewish organizational leaders to combat campus antisemitism. The department’s recent opening of several new antisemitism investigations at Penn, Cornell and Wellesley College sends an important signal that it is finally taking swift action to address the post-Oct. 7 surge of campus antisemitism.

Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, addresses the nearly 300,000 attendees of the “March for Israel” rally in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, 2023. Source: Screenshot.

“Today in America we give antisemitism no sanction, no foothold, no tolerance, not on campus, not in our schools, not in our neighborhoods, not in our streets or the streets of our cities. Not in our government. Nowhere. Not now, not ever.”

— Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism

As the nation celebrates Thanksgiving, gratitude is owed to all supporters of Israel and the Jewish people. Thoughts and prayers are with the families of hostages and all civilian casualties.

Points to consider:

  1. Jews have friends and allies across America and around the world.

Many supporters of the Jewish people from various backgrounds, religions and cultures proudly stand in support and solidarity with the Jewish people. While it has unfortunately become easier to identify those who hate Jews in public and on social media, even though they are loud voices, they are not the only voices. Even when it feels hopeless, we are not in this alone. We need our non-Jewish friends more than ever to take a stand and speak out loudly and publicly against hatred of Jews.

  1. Gratitude has a deeper meaning this Thanksgiving.

In the face of sadness and loss—kidnapped men, women, children and elderly, murdered families, raped women, burned babies—Thanksgiving this year will take on a somber tone for many Americans, and yet it still has great meaning. We can still be grateful for the gifts of life all around us. Everyone who knows where their loved ones are right now has a reason to be grateful. Everyone who gets to say “good morning” to their spouse or partner has a reason to be grateful. Everyone who gets to tuck their children in at night has a reason to be grateful. Gratitude and hope are two things we must all safeguard and hold tightly. Those serve as anchors in the roiling waters of uncertainty.

  1. Jewish pride is stronger than ever.

We must recognize that what unites us is greater than anything that has separated us. We can grieve together with one global heart and then get back up, defeat Israel’s enemies and continue shining the light into the world. Jews everywhere can hold proudly to their heritage, traditions, faith and culture because it’s what no terrorist can take from us. We can wear a Star of David necklace in public and not live in fear. We can keep the mezuzah on the door in a neighborhood where “from the river to the sea” is shouted from the street corner. We can proudly and fully embrace who we are. We can be Jews.

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