Pro-Israel rally in D.C. features antisemitic racists

By Otis Grotewohl
November 20, 2023

Apologists and supporters of the continuing genocide against Palestinians held a pro-war rally in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14. They called the event the “March for Israel,” and participants carried flags of the settler state, along with signs opposing any cease-fire. Organizers welcomed displays of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

They also had astroturf placards that featured images of the 240 Israelis who are reportedly being held captive by Palestinian resistance fighters.

As could be expected, however, none carried placards that mentioned the thousands of Palestinians held hostage in Israeli prisons. These hostages are called “administrative detainees.” Without charging them with any specific crime — even a crime under Israeli law — the apartheid state has held them behind bars for years.

With its coverage, the corporate media celebrated the event, using it as an opportunity to give less coverage to the ongoing and ever-growing protests in the United States in defense of Gaza and Palestine. U.S. news outlets have been working overtime to demonize pro-Palestinian protesters. They demonize both the Palestinians who protest and the Jewish activists who oppose the Israeli war on the Palestinian people, such as those with Jewish Voice for Peace and Rabbis for Ceasefire.

CBS News was one of the only U.S. news agencies to report that members of the Haredi Jewish community counter-protested the Nov. 14 action, holding signs that read, “Not in our name,” and “Authentic Rabbis always opposed Zionism and the State of Israel.” (cbsnews, Nov. 14) The capitalist press pushes the blatantly and historically false narrative that critics of the settler colonial state are “antisemitic.”

Among the most prominent speakers at the pro-war event were Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, which was no surprise.

Rally united Zionists with far right antisemites

Other prominent speakers included the Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson and the ultraright televangelist John Hagee. These two are Christian Zionists. A close look at what they have said exposes them as flaming enemies of Jewish people.

Christian Zionism is an “end times” ideology, whose adherents are mostly white evangelical Christians. They have a reactionary belief that all Jewish people should move to occupied Palestine and convert to Christianity or face “eternal” punishment. Christian Zionists justify their worldview through their own biased biblical interpretations.

In concert with Christian Zionist philosophy, Hagee once argued that Hitler “helped” Jewish people. “God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land,” the preacher claimed during a 1999 sermon. (Mother Jones, Nov. 14) Hagee’s comment is evidence that Christian Zionists have no problem with mass death and destruction, including of Jewish people, because they believe it fulfills their distorted prophecy.

Hagee has a recorded history of making other anti-Jewish, as well as Islamophobic, sexist, anti-LGBTQ2S+, anti-environmental and anti-Catholic statements in his “fire and brimstone” style sermons. Hagee and other Christian Zionists denounce everyone who does not share their beliefs, which is most people in the world, including most who identify as Christian. Hagee deliberately ignores the existence of the Christians who make up nearly 6% of the Palestinian population.

At the same time, Hagee spearheads the largest and most prominent Christian Zionist organization in the U.S., known as “Christians United for Israel.” The organization was one of the staunchest supporters of Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2017.

During his speech at the rally, Hagee oddly echoed arch-segregationist George Wallace and provocatively declared “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, today and forever.” (Democracy Now!, Nov. 15)

House Speaker Johnson’s comments were just as inflammatory as Hagee’s. He said to the crowd:  “As Prime Minister Netanyahu says so well, this is a fight between good and evil, between light and darkness, between civilization and barbarism.” (Democracy Now!) Similar to his violent anti-LGBTQ2S+ rhetoric, Johnson’s white supremacist message was filled with division, hatred and fear.

Bus drivers’ labor action against pro-war event

Workers around the world have been taking action against Israel in recent weeks. Many workers and unions have fought to prevent the shipment of arms to Israel. Chartered bus drivers in Washington, D.C., took a labor action with a negative impact on the Nov. 14 pro-Israel rally.

When hundreds of pro-war prospective attendees from Detroit arrived at Dulles International Airport, they were surprised when many of the bus drivers did not arrive. There is limited information regarding details as of this writing, but media reports show several of the drivers called in sick, essentially leading to a collectively organized “sickout.”

Once again, the corporate media falsely accused the courageous bus drivers as being “antisemitic” for their action, which was an objective defense of Palestine. The accusation is laughable, considering the presence of actual antisemites like Hagee and Johnson. Working-class action against the onslaught of the Palestinian people is the best way to shut down the U.S.-driven, racist, Zionist war machine.