leadership speaks

Congressional leaders pledge ‘unequivocal’ bipartisan support for Israel at Washington march

Schumer pledges to Israel 'all the assistance you need,' while House speaker says calls for cease-fire are 'outrageous'


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) addresses the March for Israel on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

The top leaders of the House and Senate pledged unequivocal bipartisan American support for Israel to the estimated 200,000 activists present at the March for Israel in Washington on Tuesday.

After each spoke, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) grabbed each others’ hands and held them in the air while leading the crowd in a chant: “We stand with Israel.” More than 100 additional members of Congress were at the rally on the National Mall as attendees. 

“The minute I heard of what happened on [Oct.] 7, I knew I had to go to Israel,” said Schumer. As “the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in American history, I not only had a desire to go to Israel. I felt a special obligation to go.” 

He continued, “I said to the Israeli people, ‘Israel, we in America have your back. America feels your pain. We ache with you. We stand with you. And we will not rest until you get all the assistance you need.” 

Johnson, who has been speaker for less than a month, said the U.S. “stands unequivocally” with Israel. Earlier on Tuesday morning, he joined hundreds of other members of Congress as they watched footage documenting atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7. 

“This morning, we watched the horrific film that was produced by Hamas, from their own cameras, as they committed the assault. It’s unspeakable,” said Johnson. “The auditorium was full of Republicans and Democrats in the House, and they wept as we watched the film together. Most couldn’t sit through it.”

The members of Congress pledged to continue to support Israel in its quest to defeat Hamas. 

“Hamas brutally attacked Israel on October 7 because Hamas wants to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, so let me be clear: We will never let that happen,” said Jeffries. “Congress will continue to support in a bipartisan way the State of Israel and Israel’s unequivocal right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Jeffries has faced pressure from his party’s left flank to call for a cease-fire, which he has declined to do.

“The calls for a cease-fire are outrageous,” said Johnson, to loud cheers and chants of “No cease-fire” that erupted from the crowd.

Though each speech focused on the attack Israel suffered on Oct. 7, the congressional leaders also called attention to the antisemitism that has skyrocketed in the United States and around the world in the weeks since.

“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. We will not sit quiet as antisemitism is being promulgated in campuses and classrooms around the country,” said Ernst. “The brutal reality of Hamas cannot be diminished … How anyone in America could sympathize with these terrorists is truly unfathomable.” 

Later, after the family members of several hostages held in Gaza addressed the crowd, the leadership of the congressional Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism offered a prayer for the hostages. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a former board chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, read first in Hebrew and then in English from Psalm 130.

“Out of the depths have we called to you, oh Lord,” said Manning. “Hear our voices, be attentive to our supplications and let us say together: Amen.”

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