Bus drivers refuse to drive Jews to pro-Israel rally in Washington

Nearly 1,000 Detroit-area demonstrators abandoned as bus drivers refuse to drive them to March with Israel event in Washington.

By Susan Tawil, World Israel News

A great portion of the contingent of nearly 1,000 Detroiters, bound for the “March with Israel” rally in the nation’s capital, never made it to the demonstration, after bus drivers refused to drive them from the airport.

The bus company with whom they had contracted transit from the airport to the rally called a wild-cat strike and refused to take them to the event.

Nearly 300,000 Israel supporters from across the country held a peaceful rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC on Tuesday, November 14. They gathered to support the State of Israel, currently embroiled in a war on retaliation for the October 7 surprise terror attack by Hamas.

Hamas slaughtered some 1,200 Israeli civilians, took 240 captives hostage, and has since fired nearly 10,000 missiles against Israeli communities.

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, in conjunction with two of suburban Detroit’s Young Israel synagogues chartered two buses and three planes to bring local participants to the march.

The planes held over 300 passengers each, and tickets cost $360.

Rally-goers were to arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Airport by 6:30 am for the charter flights, scheduled to land at Virginia’s Dulles airport at 9:45. From there, a private bus company would take them to a point near the National Mall, dropping them off at 11:45.

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This would give them plenty of time for the rally, scheduled for 1-3pm.

Some anticipated arriving early enough to enjoy some of the pre-rally entertainment and activities.

The connecting buses, however, never showed up.

A contract was made with the bus company (name not disclosed), and service of the fleet of buses was confirmed the previous night.

But the bus drivers, evidently unwilling to transport Jews to a pro-Israel rally, staged a walk-out and left all the Detroit participants stranded at the airport.

Federation event organizers scrambled to remedy the situation, phoning whatever transit options they could contact, to transport the passengers to the rally.

Due to the huge demand that day, they were only able to round up a couple of buses, a limousine, and some vans—hardly enough capacity for the Detroit delegation.

Compounding the problem, charter plane passengers do not go through the normal TSA security check, so no one was allowed into the terminal, leaving them trapped on the tarmac.

Sima Blumenkehl of Southfield, MI was on the first plane to land, and was lucky enough to get on one of the buses.

She made it to the rally, although about half an hour late. She was upset to hear that so many of her friends were still stuck at the airport. “The antisemitism (of the bus driver walk-out) broke my heart,” she said.

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Hershel and Joy Gardin, of Oak Park, MI, were on the second plane. They said that only half of the passengers on board the flight were able to get space on the buses, while the remaining half never reached the rally.

“It was a big nightmare,” Hershel “There was a hodge-podge of vehicles. No one knew who was where.”

Leah Ungar, of Oak Park, was a passenger on the third plane, whose passengers not not make it to the rally.

“The entire plane was waiting and waiting,” she said. “The let us out onto the tarmac for about a half hour, then made us get back on the plane.” After more delays, the plane headed back to Detroit. Leah says she felt “angered and saddened. We didn’t get to participate at all.”

“I thought it would be so much easier to take the (chartered) plane,” she said. “The (chartered) buses (that left from Oak Park and Ann Arbor) got there and back before any of us did.”

She thinks the bus company “absolutely” should be sued. “They knew full well that they were ruining it for us. No way they couldn’t have a back-up plan, substitute drivers or something…How could it be that every driver (of 18-20 buses) decided not to drive?” she muses, wondering if they were paid off.

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Leah says that she felt bad for the organizers. “There were so many logistics, and it was so well organized,” she noted. She views the bus strike as “blatant antisemitism.” Leah’s parents were both Holocaust survivors, and she is “sad that this is happening in this day and age…It’s ironic to go to a march against antisemitism and then fall victim to it!” she said.