Across the US, groups of American Jews and pro-Israel advocates traveling to Washington, DC for a massive rally on Tuesday organized to show support for Israel and denounce antisemitism were left stranded as chartered buses either refused to transport them or never showed up.
US Jewish groups organized the “March for Israel” to demand the release of hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza and to demonstrate support for both the Jewish state and the Jewish community amid a global surge in antisemitism that has followed the Palestinian terror group’s Oct 7. massacre across southern Israel.
Tuesday’s rally was both the largest ever pro-Israel gathering and the largest Jewish gathering in US history, with nearly 300,000 people attending, according to event organizers.
However, large numbers of people traveling to attend the rally either could not show up or were forced to scramble last second and final alternative transportation due to multiple instances nationwide of buses not driving them.
Hundreds of American Jews from Detroit, for example, were left stranded at Dulles Airport in Virginia after drivers of chartered buses refused to transport them to nearby Washington, DC, according to multiple reports.
“I’ve been on the airplane unable to de-board because the bus drivers refuse to pick up Jews from the tarmac,” one hopeful marcher — who was one of 900 passengers signed up by the Jewish Federation of Detroit to attend the event — said in a post published on Instagram. “Imagine this was the other way around, and drivers wouldn’t pick up Muslims. It would be a hate crime.”
According to pro-Israel social media accounts monitoring the situation, the bus drivers had staged a “mass sick out” after learning that their passengers were going to a rally in support of the Jewish state. The Algemeiner was unable to independently confirm that claim.
Meanwhile, VINnews reported that the plight of the passengers was made all the worse because their flights, charted specifically for the DC rally, did not pass through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening, thereby preventing the activists from waiting inside the airport terminal. Eventually, they were turned away and sent home.
Michigan State Sen. Jeremy Moss, a Democrat, was among those who traveled to Washington on one of the chartered planes that he said arrived at Dulles Airport on Tuesday morning. He told the Detroit News that his group waited hours to deplane before loading onto a bus and sat there for several minutes before unloading and getting back on the airplane. The group sat on the plane all afternoon and never made it to the rally.
“I’m still awaiting all of the details of why the bus drivers didn’t show up,” Moss said, expressing disappointment about not being able to attend the historic event in the nation’s capital.
“I’ve spent my tenure in the Legislature fighting discrimination when seeking goods or services that are denied based on identity or affiliation,” he added. “There are a lot of questions and we deserve to know the answers.”
A similar incident happened in Westport, Connecticut, where hundreds of people set to take two buses booked with US Coachways to Washington were forced to drive down in 38 cars after the company cancelled their reservations, News 12 Connecticut reported. Jewish Federation of Greater Fairfield County CEO Carin Savel, whose group organized the trip, said the dispatcher told her there had been a scheduling error and the buses had been canceled.
Jewish and pro-Israel leaders expressed outrage over the inexplicable transportation issues. “To the bus company that refused to transport my local Jewish community off the tarmac at Dulles to the DC March for Israel rally: You’re about to find out,” tweeted Adar Rubin, Director of Mobilization at End Jew Hatred, an antisemitism watchdog.
Amid a historic surge in antisemitism since the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel, critics have alleged the transportation issues were meant to sabotage the “March for Israel,” where hundreds of thousands of Jewish Americans and pro-Israel advocates packed the National Mall in a historic show of solidarity with the Jewish state amid its war with Hamas.
Speakers at the rally included the famed human rights activist Natan Sharansky, US Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), US Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who appeared via live feed, among many other voices.
College students were also represented among the day’s speakers.
“Our spirit is unbroken,” George Washington University student Sabrina Soffer said during a speech delivered before the massive crowd. “Nothing at all can splinter the Jewish soul. The Jewish soul, the American resolve, allied together shall never surrender values of civilization, democracy, and humanity.”
The marchers, who traveled from across the US, represented a full spectrum of the Jewish community and its allies. As one participant told The Algemeiner, it was an important display of unity and the peaceful intentions of the Jewish people.
“I think it’s beautiful. It just shows that we are in peace, that we come in peace, and we’re not interested in violence, and on the contrary we’re fighting that in the world and all antisemitism and hatred of all kinds,” said Beverly Mehl, from New York. “It’s very important to show strength, to do something and take action.”
The scale and success of the “March for Israel” was striking given that it was organized in just a matter of weeks. Natan Sharansky, the famed refusenik and international campaigner against antisemitism, highlighted the pressing need for a mass pro-Israel rally in a recent article for Tablet magazine and drew a comparison with marches in 1987 attended by hundreds of thousands to support Soviet Jewry.
“Immediately after the [Oct. 7] attack we found that all of us were being attacked, and so the world Jewry is feeling like one family, supporting one another, because I hear from so many who say they never imagined that they would be afraid in their countries,” Sharansky told The Algemeiner ahead of the demonstration. “We all have to rally quickly to turn into one fighting family, and I think that’s what Jews are doing now and why this demonstration is happening.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta
i24 News – A protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.
The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.
The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a… pic.twitter.com/B8nUQAj2nU
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023
“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”
“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed
Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.
Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.
“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”
Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.
A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.
Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.
More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.
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IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist
i24 News – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.
According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.
During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.
ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.
הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו. pic.twitter.com/mEaJs58hpE
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023
The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.
It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.
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