The massive pro-Israel demonstration in Washington was more important than it might seem at first glance.
Sure, there are protests in the capital all the time. But this one provided a counter-narrative to what has been dominating the news lately: Pro-Hamas demonstrations around the world, a rising surge in anti-Semitism and increasingly negative coverage of Israel for its siege of Gaza’s largest hospital.
The protest that filled the Mall, with thousands of people arriving from across the country, didn’t just include Jews. There were sign-waving Christians, gays and other groups. House Speaker Mike Johnson addressed the crowd as well as Chuck Schumer. There was a peaceful aura with no clashes at the heavily guarded gathering.
What’s more, some of those interviewed said they felt sympathy for innocent Palestinians who were being killed.
But there was no mistaking why they were there. Some of the speakers, and some in the crowd, had family members being held hostage by Hamas. Their anguish was overwhelming. And it was a reminder that the terrorist group that runs Gaza has stooped to such despicable tactics as kidnapping civilians, including grandparents and young children.
What a contrast with pro-Hamas rallies where protestors chant “from the river to the sea,” calling for the eradication of Israel.
And yet there is little doubt that the Israelis are currently losing the PR war. The images of troops surrounding Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital make the Netanyahu government seem reckless. Even President Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel, said the other day “that hospital must be protected.”
The explanation is a bit more complicated. Israeli troops, who entered the hospital yesterday, say they found weapons inside. Israel has contended that Hamas has built a command and control center underneath the building, which the terrorist group denies.
But Israel has released footage showing how a military installation is embedded in another hospital.
Bibi Netanyahu told Sean Hannity that Hamas builds “under hospitals, command posts in hospitals, terror tunnels under hospitals, everywhere you see. So I said, okay, let’s build alternative hospitals, let’s build field hospitals.”
By embedding in these and other civilian buildings, Hamas is using its own people as human shields. The group knows full well that some Palestinians will be killed as a direct result of this approach, and welcomes that – calling them “martyrs” – knowing that the Israelis will be blamed. It is a deeply cynical and heartless tactic from the side that started this war.
The media can’t repeat this enough. And that’s why the pictures that break through the static, of the Washington demonstration, are a vital counterpoint to the global debate.