A major backlash against a UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) decision to permit groups encouraging Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel to march in the upcoming Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City has led to a campaign to oust the groups from the event.
“A coalition of community Jewish organizations urgently calls on all friends of Israel to make their voices heard,” an e-mail from an organization called JCC Watch reads. “We urge everyone to raise your voices and call the UJA-Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). Urge them to stop these groups from marching in the Israel Day Parade and hijacking a pro-Israel event for their anti-Israel purposes.”
Those who participate in the campaign will be responding to news that the New Israel Fund (NIF) will be participating in this year’s parade, despite funding projects that many see as aiming to delegitimize and weaken Israel, both socio-politically and economically.
NIF is a funder of various organizations which have urged divestment from Israel, including Mossawa, Adalaha, Machsom Watch, Coalition of Women for Peace, Social TV, and Women Against Violence.
The NIF marched in last year’s parade, along with Israel Apartheid Week supporter B’Tselem , Rabbis for Human Rights, and Partners for Progressive Israel, which has called for a boycott of all products produced by Jews in Judea and Samaria.
JCC Watch founder and member of the newly established Committee for a Pro-Israel Parade Richard Allen stated that “it is not surprising that the UJA-Federation is pushing these bash Israel groups to march in the June 3, 2012 Israel Parade.” He accused several senior members of the UJA of being involved in anti-Israel work, including one officer he says worked with Noam Chomsky on an anti-Israel project and another he says gave $1 million in UJA funds to the “George Soros-funded political group” Jewish Funds for Justice.
Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI) Executive Director Helen Freedman decried the participation of the BDS groups, noting that when her organization wanted to march in the parade with signs promoting Jewish sovereignty over all the land assigned to the Jewish people in biblical texts, her group was denied. “We were turned down because we were too “extremist” and our banners in support of a whole Israel – yisrael shlayma -were not welcome,” Freedman said, according to a letter from her posted on the website of activist Batya Meidad.
Supporters of the campaign to oust BDS groups from the annual New York City parade are being encouraged to call or e-mail Board members of the UJA Federation of New York.
Members of the Committee for a Pro-Israel Parade include Allen of JCCWatch, Rabbi Steven Axelman of Whitestone Hebrew Centre, Helen Freedman of Americans for a Safe Israel, Beth Gilinsky of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Eli E. Hertz of “Myths and Facts”, Lori Lowenthal Marcus of Z Street, Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Congregation Ohab Zedek, and Rabbi Eli Kowalsky.