March for Israel draws huge crowd today to Washington, D.C.

A March for Israel is being held in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, with tens of thousands of people expected to attend to show support for Israel, for the hostages to be freed, and to protest antisemitism, which has increased in the U.S. since the Israel-Hamas war began last month.

Renee Levy, who traveled to D.C. from Cincinnati, Ohio, told CBS News ahead of the march she felt it was important to be there with her son and their friends. 

“It’s been a really hard time to be Jewish in the U.S. this last month for these kids on college campuses, what they’re having to deal with on top of mourning our dead and being worried about our hostages,” Levy said. “We’re also being attacked everywhere for being Jewish. So to be here with all these people today and stand in solidarity with Israel and to just be together was really important to us.”

What is the March for Israel? 

Ahead of the march, the organizers, Jewish Federations of North America and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, urged attendees to arrive early, as an estimated 60,000 people are expected to attend, according to the events permit obtained by CBS News.

“The March for Israel will be an opportunity for all Americans to come together in solidarity with the people of Israel, to demonstrate our commitment to America’s most important ally in the Middle East, to condemn the rising trend of antisemitic violence and harassment, and to demand that every hostage be immediately and safely released,” the organizers say on the march’s official website.

March For Israel Held On National Mall In Washington, DC
 Thousands of people attend the March for Israel on the National Mall November 14, 2023 in Washington, DC. The large pro-Israel gathering comes as the Israel-Hamas war enters its sixth week following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

After the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 312 acts of antisemitism in the U.S. through Oct. 23 — 190 of which were directly linked to the Israel-Hamas war. 

During that time period, there was also a 338% increase in harassment, vandalism and/or assault, compared to the same time period in 2022, according to the ADL.

Hamas, which the U.S. State Department designates as a terrorist organization, took an estimated 240 people hostage from Israel – including a child as young as three, according to the White House. Only four of the hostages have been released so far and negotiations, mediated by Qatar, are underway to broker the release of more.

The organizers of the D.C. march say posters will be provided and they encourage attendees to post about the march on social media using the hashtag #MarchForIsrael. For those who cannot attend in person, there will be a live stream.

What time is the March for Israel? 

The march is scheduled begin at the National Mall at 1 p.m. and go until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14.   

Organizers of the March for Israel in D.C. are urging large groups who are traveling by buses to the area to register their buses so they know who is coming. The reserved bus parking lots, however, are already full, they said. 

Travelers from U.S. cities like Boston and Pittsburgh were heading to D.C. by bus early Tuesday morning. “It’s incredibly important for us to come together as a collective community and as a nation when there is increasing dehumanization of Israel, there is a rise in antisemitism,” Laura Cherner of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh told CBS News Pittsburgh. “To have us come together with support from the entire nation is going to be a huge, historic moment.”

More than 4,000 people from the Philadelphia area alone are heading to D.C. for the march, according to CBS Philadelphia. 

People pray on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House before a rally supporting Israel during its conflict with Hamas November 14, 2023, in Washington, DC. 


March for Israel safety and security

The march has been designated a SEAR Level One event, meaning there will be a stronger federal law enforcement presence in coordination with local law enforcement, CBS News has confirmed. D.C. police and U.S. Park Police will be on the ground during the event.

Level One SEAR events are considered “significant events with national and/or international importance that require extensive federal interagency support,” according to Department of Homeland Security, which applies a “risked-base methodology to determine which first amendment events demand greater resources. 

There have been no specific threats to the D.C. march, law enforcement officials confirmed to CBS News. 

“DHS continues to work with stakeholders across the United States to share timely information and resources to enhance safety for their communities,” a Homeland Security spokesperson told CBS News in a statement. “The U.S. remains in a heightened threat environment and recent events reinforce that. As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, we have seen an increase in reports of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions. Lone offenders, motivated by a range of violent ideologies, pose the most likely threat. We urge the public to stay vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement.”  

Other protests in support of Israel and Palestinians

The war has sparked pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests in several major cities around the world. Last month, at the start of the war, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups held dueling protests in New York City, demonstrating outside of the United Nations, in Times Square and at other landmarks, according to CBS New York.

A pro-Palestinian march in D.C. drew attendees from several U.S. cities on Nov. 3, with demonstrators calling on President Biden to end all aid to Israel, according to CBS affiliate WUSA. 

On Sunday, more than 180,000 people in France – including 100,000 in Paris – held peaceful protests against antisemitism. 

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