Hundreds of March for Israel protesters left stranded amid bus driver walk-off

The bus company has not been named after hundreds of protesters were unable to attend the ‘March for Israel’ protest in DC

Martha McHardy
Wednesday 15 November 2023 19:14 GMT
231115 Pro Israel Rally

Hundreds of March for Israel protesters were left stranded after what they said was a “malicious walk-off” by bus drivers.

Members of the Jewish Federation of Detroit and the Jewish Community Relations Council said they became stranded after buses hired to transport “a significant number” of the groups’ participants from Dulles International Airport to the site of the march in Washington DC did not show up.

David Kurzmann, senior director of community affairs at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, said hundreds of people were delayed or not able to attend the protest in DC, The Detroit News reported.

Mr Kurzmann added that he was told by the bus company, which has not been named, that the vehicles failed to show up due to a “malicious walk-off of drivers.”

He said that he and other protesters were “deeply dismayed” by the actions of the bus drivers, which he described as “disgraceful”.

“Our resolve to proudly stand in solidarity with the people of Israel, to condemn antisemitism and to demand the return of every hostage held by Hamas has never been greater,” he continued.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Kurzmann said the bus company told the 900-strong group that “they were having trouble” after some drivers called in sick on Monday.

“They informed us ... that they had drivers, who, when they were aware of the assignment today, called in, more than a few, a number of drivers called in sick,” Mr Kurzmann said. He added that the bus company “committed to fulfilling the obligations for our group.”

Around a third of the travellers were affected by the bus cancellations, according to Mr Kurzmann.

Tens of thousands took part in the March for Israel in Washington DC on Tuesday

Democratic state senator Jeremy Moss was one of those affected. He said he flew to DC on a chartered plane, but when he got there, he and his group were denied an opportunity to be part of a “tremendous display of support … for the hostages and a strong rebuke of antisemitism.”

He said the group ended up sitting on the plane all afternoon and never made it to the rally.

“I’ve spent my tenure in the Legislature fighting discrimination when seeking goods or services that are denied based on identity or affiliation,” said Mr Moss, who is openly gay. “There are a lot of questions and we deserve to know the answers.”

Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, who attended the march, said: “What I have heard is that some bus drivers taking passengers from another plane loaded people on their buses, and then the driver walked off the buses and refused to drive them to the march.”

Participants rally on the National Mall at the March for Israel on Tuesday

The Washington DC march on Tuesday was attended by tens of thousands of people, including Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, Republican House speaker Mike Johnson and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jefferies.

Protesters called for the estimated 240 hostages Hamas took from Israel on 7 October to be freed, chanting “never again.”

Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel on 7 October, killing 1,400 people and taking hundreds hostage.

Since the Hamas attacks last month, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory airstrikes launched by Israel, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Human rights organisations have called for an urgent ceasefire, with a United Nations report finding that 70 percent of those killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza were women and children – despite claims by the IDF that the airstrikes are targeting Hamas militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far resisted calls for a ceasefire as well as pressure from the US for a humanitarian pause, saying there will be no temporary ceasefire until all hostages are released.

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