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In a show of support with Israel, thousands rally on the National Mall

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Supporters of Israel rallied by the tens of thousands here in Washington yesterday. And NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: The National Mall was a sea of blue and white signs and Israeli flags under a heavy security presence. Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed the enormous crowd by video from Jerusalem, calling Hamas' October 7 attack the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG: Let us cry out together, never again. Never again. Never again is now.

ROSE: A long list of speakers denounced what they call a rise in antisemitism and hatred, and some pushed back against critics of Israel. The Israeli offensive in Gaza has killed thousands. Protesters around the world and in the U.S. have called for a cease-fire as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza deepens. But Israeli leaders have rejected those calls. And on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers showed their support for the Israeli government.

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CHUCK SCHUMER: We stand...

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: ...With Israel.

SCHUMER: We stand...

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: ...With Israel.

ROSE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer led the crowd in a chant as Democrats and Republicans joined hands on stage, and newly elected House speaker Mike Johnson drew a big ovation with this line.

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MIKE JOHNSON: The calls for a cease-fire are outrageous.

ROSE: Many in the crowd carried signs showing faces of the 240 hostages who are still being held by Hamas, and the parents of a few of them spoke from the stage. Rachel Goldberg is the mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was captured while attending a music festival attacked by Hamas.

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RACHEL GOLDBERG: Why is the world accepting that 240 human beings from almost 30 countries have been stolen and buried alive?

ROSE: More than once, the crowd broke into a chant. Bring them home.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Bring them home. Bring them home.

ROSE: Joel Rose, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.