On Friday, an article ran on this site: “For NYC Israel Day Parade, BDS Banned Only in Words.” There was a mistake in it, which we take this opportunity to correct.
The focus of that article was on what at first seemed to be a big change for this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade. In the registration packet for this year’s marchers was a set of guidelines which, on the face of it, clearly prohibited any group from marching that supports economic warfare against Israel.
The new guidelines’ language was quoted in that article: “All Groups must oppose, not fund, nor advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by not recognizing it as a Jewish state.”
In the past, the parade organizers had permitted groups to march which explicitly advocate (or fund groups which explicitly advocate) boycotts of companies located beyond the so-called “Green Line.” For this reason, a reporter from The Jewish Press contacted parade officials. That reporter’s conversation with Michael Mittelman, Celebrate Israel director and the associate general counsel of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, was recounted in the Feb. 13 article.
The article stated that Mittelman refused to answer questions about whether or not the parade organizers will permit groups to march which support boycotts of Israeli products over the “Green Line.”
The reporter finally asked Mittelman point blank: would groups that advocate boycotts against SodaStream and Ahava be permitted to march? SodaStream used to be located outside of “Green Line” Israel and some people claim the Dead Sea is part of “Palestinian” territory. Mittelman refused to answer.
Mittelman repeatedly stated that the only further words the parade organizers would say on the topic were contained in a statement, which he promised to send.
The Feb. 13 article stated that Mittelman never sent that statement.
IN FACT, Mittelman did send the promised statement. Unfortunately, that email went to this reporter’s SPAM mailbox and remained there until Monday, Feb. 16, when she was informed that Mittelman had complained about several things in the Feb. 13 article.
The other complaints about the article in Mittelman’s letter concerned how he was portrayed and the functionality of the links on his site, about which disagreement remains, but it is absolutely true that he had, as promised, emailed the statement and one of the two linked-to articles.
However, one point in the article - the main point - was not disputed by Mittelman. He did not assert that the article falsely suggested the NYC Celebrate Israel Parade would permit groups to march that advocate boycotts of Israeli products made by Israeli companies located beyond the Green Line. In a legal arena, one could claim that such an omission constitutes a form of admission.
And Mittelman did not claim that the article was wrong in stating that the New Israel Fund, an entity which has funded and supports groups that boycott “beyond Green Line” Israeli companies, would be marching in this year’s parade because the new guidelines do not bar it, as an NIF official told another reporter.
The statement Mittelman was so exercised about — and which he repeatedly invoked as the JCRC’s final word about which groups could march in this year’s parade — simply repeats the new language in the Guidelines which was quoted in the Feb. 13 article.
There you have it. This reporter was wrong – albeit inadvertently – when she asserted that Michael Mittelman did not send the JCRC statement as promised.
She appears not to have been wrong about something much more important: the new language in this year’s guidelines for the 2015 Celebrate Israel Parade which appears to ban from marching those who advocate economic warfare against Israel is, in fact, no change at all.