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March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Celebrate Israel parade’

For NYC Israel Day Parade, BDS Banned Only in Words

Friday, February 13th, 2015

This year New York’s annual parade to celebrate Israel will, despite blatant efforts by New York Jewish “leadership” to fool those concerned, once again include groups supporting economic sanctions against Israel.

You see, the New York Jewish leadership apparently thinks boycotting some Jews in Israel is acceptable, so long as their companies are located beyond where the Palestinian Authority wants them.

For all pro-Israel Jews, Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people, but for most American Jews, New York City is the undisputed Diaspora capital of the Jewish people.

That’s at least one good reason why battle lines were drawn over who and what should be permitted to march in New York City’s Annual Israel Day Parade (it’s officially known as the Celebrate Israel Parade, but people who have marched in or watched it for years and years still automatically call it the Israel Day Parade).

There has been an extremely vocal group of pro-Israel advocates desperately trying to ensure that the people who march in the Israel Day Parade  are actually pro-Israel in deed, and not just in slogan. They haven’t set the bar high – just high enough to keep out those whose actions seek to harm Israel, or those who fund those who do – from participating,

That band of warriors has been led by Richard Allen, a New York City businessman and founder of JCC Watch.

The primary target of the “keep the Celebrate Israel Parade pro-Israel” coalition has been groups, such as the New Israel Fund, which financially supports organizations which advocate economic warfare against Israel, and Partners for a Progressive Israel, which itself proudly advocates boycotting such iconic Israeli companies as SodaStream and Ahava.

In January, when the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York released its 2015 registration packet for the parade, people like Richard Allen and others in the coalition to keep the Israel Day Parade pro-Israel initially rejoiced.

But only momentarily.

The 2015 Marching Group Rules contained in the packet states clearly that all groups participating must identify with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and the homeland of the Jewish People.

The third rule states clearly that BDS groups may not participate. It states:

“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.”

Just below that rule, the packet links to further information. Unfortunately, neither of the links work, and only one could be found on the web. That one did not provide any further enlightenment than did the ostensibly clear rule.

When The Jewish Press contacted the JCRC of NY, Michael Mittleman, director of  the “Celebrate Israel” department, refused to explain what was meant by barring groups from participating in the parade if they do “not fund, nor advocate for” BDS.

Mittleman would only say that the JCRC had a statement it had released, which he promised to forward, on the topic and it was the last word he or any of them would say about the topic.

The conversation went from cordial to less so, as the reporter attempted to get Mittleman to expand on any specifics. The reporter asked, point blank, whether groups which advocate boycotts of such companies as SodaStream and Ahava would be permitted to march in the parade.

Mittleman would not answer other than say the only information the JCRC would provide on the topic was in the statement which he would forward.

Uh oh.

The “Celebrate Israel” director acknowledged, when pressed, that a decision about whether a specific group would be permitted or wouldn’t be permitted to march would have to be made, but he simply would not state what criterion would be used, beyond what was already in the 2015 parade rules and what was in the statement he promised to forward.

Angry Mom Responds to Letter Writer

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Letters to the Editor of the print version of The Jewish Press appear on the JewishPress.com site.  This week a letter from a reader appeared (see pages 2 and 3), in response to which the mother of a gay teenager wrote a letter in the form of an op-ed. That mother asked that her name be withheld. This is what she wrote:

Dear Mr. Goldstein,

First, I want to thank you for publicizing the wonderful organization that is JQY or Jewish Queer Youth. I am an Orthodox mother of a 15 year old gay son and JQY has been an invaluable resource to me and my son since he came out to our family about 6 months ago. Prior to connecting with JQY and Eshel (another fantastic organization for Orthodox LGBT people) our family felt so alone.

In your letter you referred to JQY as an “openly immoral group.” I have to say, this concerned me. I have met several of the JQY leaders and they never struck me as “openly immoral.” But you said the organization marched in the parade with blatantly offensive banners last year. So I decided to look at JQY’s website to see how this organization promotes open immorality in a blatantly offensive way.

Here’s what I found when I went to JQY’s website. The first thing I noticed was a large printed, “Jewish? Orthodox? Gay? You are not alone! Welcome to JQY!” That doesn’t seem too blatantly offensive or immoral but I guessed that I probably had to look a little closer on the page. Based on what you said, the mission must promote an obviously immoral lifestyle. Here’s what the mission of JQY is:

Our mission is to address the unique needs of LGBT frum* and formerly frum Jews. JQY is dedicated to cultivating a Jewish community where no one feels alone, bullied or silenced because of their orientation or gender identity. Special attention is given to youth, young adults and their families; however we have programs for all ages.

Wait a minute. There is nothing immoral in that mission statement. It almost seems…helpful to people who are in the Orthodox Community and who are LGBT and need support. Now I was confused. I figured the pictures that make up the top and bottom banners of the page must be suggestive or immodest.  But all I saw in these pictures are smiling groups of people who look comfortable, proud and most importantly, not alone.

I searched some more and found links to support groups, crisis resources, holiday and shabbat meals, an open Beit Medrash, Mental Health outreach, and speaker training programs. I kept searching for the offensiveness you spoke of in your letter.

Luckily, right before I left the page in despair that I would never be made privy to what was so hurtful to you, I finally found the blatantly offensive propaganda that you think JQY is spewing. About three quarters of the way down the page in bold yellow typeface, there is a statement that says “We are in every Yeshiva!”

Wow. Imagine my feelings when I saw that. That an organization which says it is trying to help Orthodox (and formerly Orthodox) LGBT people could say such a thing. I mean, sure. Statistics tell us that there is likely at least one LGBT person in every extended Orthodox family. But to say that there is an LGBT person in every Yeshiva?

Mr. Goldstein, I applaud you for bringing this to my attention. Because now I can speak to my son honestly and openly and I can tell him, “You’re not alone.” I can assure him that even though he feels like life is an uphill battle and even though so many people in the Orthodox community in which he was raised won’t accept him for who he is and will only think of him in terms of what will or won’t go on in his bedroom when he is older, he is not alone. There are kids like him in every Yeshiva, every Day School, and even every Bais Yaakov across the country. He can rest assured that he has the power to make someone else who might be feeling lonely, depressed, isolated, or even – G-d forbid – suicidal, feel just a little better by telling them that they are not alone.

He can make them aware of the JQY teen support phone calls and email lists that he is part of. He can tell them about the Jewish, but not-orthodox shabbaton for LGBT kids that he went on that a JQY staff member attended just to give support to the Orthodox kids there. He can tell these kids that when they’re ready to

come out to their parents, JQY has a support group called Temicha for Orthodox Parents of LGBT kids.

Mr. Goldstein, I get it. Something about an organization that wants to make life better for Orthodox LGBT people makes you feel uncomfortable. I am not sure why, but it is obvious that their very presence threatens you in a way that you probably can’t even explain yourself. Therefore, you have rallied to exclude this group from supporting their homeland, using the Torah as an excuse. But please know that is all it is. An excuse to be at best exclusionary and at worst hateful and homophobic.

Schools that march in the parade that JQY marches in are not “legitimizing homosexual behavior.” They are supporting Israel and recognizing that there is a group amongst them that happens to offer incredible support and love to Jews who might not always feel support and love from the greater community. This group happens to support Israel as well. Nothing else.

I don’t assume that my letter will change your mind. It’s made up already. But maybe someone else will read it and realize that what you are proposing is not only hurtful but hateful as well. And maybe someone else will see this letter and reach out to JQY and life will be a little better for him or her in the future because of it.

-A Proud Mom

The Celebrate Parade and the ‘Boycott Israel Fund’

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

On June 1, the 50th annual Zionist parade, the “Celebrate Israel Parade” will take place in Manhattan. It is one of the most important, visible and widely attended  pro-Israel events for the American Jewish community, a community which impacts Israel’s future almost as much as the people in Israel.

The hallmark of the parade has always been an unabashed pride and love of Israel, both from its  hundreds  of participating organizations and its hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Strange then that this year, there will also be a participating organization which is perceived by millions of Jews around the world as not only a complete stranger to the essence of Zionism, but also as one of its most significant opponents – the New Israel Fund (NIF).

In truth the NIF is like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Despite exhausting public relations contortions to convince Jews that they are Zionistic supporters of Israel, their actions consistently demonstrate the exact opposite posture.

Whether it has been their past relationship with the notoriously anti-Semitic Ford Foundation, or their close involvement of the organizations which filled the infamous Goldstone Report with accusations of IDF war crimes, or the statement by their former Vice-CEO, Hedva Radovanitz, that “If Israel were to disappear, it wouldn’t be a tragedy” it is inescapable that the NIF is out to undermine Israel as a strong Jewish State.

Of course, this is not how they present themselves in their frequent well-funded marketing campaigns.

In the toxic arena of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the New Israel Fund is particularly disingenuous. It declares on the one hand that it will not support organizations calling for a boycott of Israel, or activities encouraging a boycott. However, as recently as April 11 the Fund’s spokesperson, Naomi Paiss, told the Ma’ariv newspaper that “since it [the NIF] objects to the occupation and the settlement project… it will not avoid supporting organizations that encourage not consuming or buying products manufactured in the settlements…”

Huh?

The difference between organizations encouraging a “boycott” against Israel and organizations encouraging “not consuming” Israeli products, is similar to the distinction made between a terror organization and an organization that kills innocent people for political gains.

It is a distinction without a difference.

And so, the NIF openly supports organizations such as the “Social Television”, which promotes the use of the “Buycott” [a combination of the words “buy” and “boycott”] app to identify and boycott Israeli products, and Adalah, whose Negev branch head, Dr. Thabet Abu Rass, admitted following an assignment to Brussels that he wanted “To encourage policy designers to increase diplomatic pressure on Israel.” And there are more of the same

Increasingly, people in Israel are waking up to the insidious nature of the New Israel Fund. They are not fooled by semantics where not consuming products made in Israel is somehow not a boycott. It is time for American Jews to see the NIF clearly for what it is, and to shun it.

Having the NIF march in the Israel Day Parade is to turn support for Israel on its head. Having a big tent of various organizations is one thing; willingly welcoming those who seek your destruction is another thing.

The NIF is way too smart to forthrightly express their true destructive anti-Zionist beliefs and intentions. But the consequences of their many activities would lead to the same disastrous results.

The sooner American Jews reject the New Israel Fund, the better. The Celebrate Israel Parade is a great place to start.

This article was reprinted with permission of the author.

The Three Little Kosher Pigs

Monday, April 28th, 2014

It is always amusing to see the look on the faces of fellow American Jews when they discover that I am a Republican. Lacking originality, they typically say, “A Republican Jewish woman? Now that’s an oxymoron!” Well no, not at all.

Sadly, Israel has become a partisan issue. But it is the Republicans who are her staunchest supporters. Yet ironically, the vast majority of American Jews, whose progressive values are flaunted with elitist moral authority, have found a home in the Democrat party — the one whose members boo any mention of God and Jerusalem and whose policy makers formulate plans and strategies that are simply dangerous for Israel.

As we finish celebrating Passover during which time we remember our peoples’ exodus from bondage in Egypt to a life of freedom in Israel and observe Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — it is an appropriate time to reflect on the state of Jewish Zionism in America.

What does it say about a people who align themselves with  political organizations that at best feign support for Israel for fundraising purposes but in reality take measures that could possibly harm that country’s long-term survival? In the face of existential dangers including growing Islamic fundamentalist death threats that are ignored around the world (including in the UN, EU and US) and growing apathy of Jews in the diaspora, perhaps a brief history of the Jewish peoples’ struggles against anti-Semitism is worth a revisit.

A modern version of Jewish history can be analyzed through the lens of the Three Little Pigs. In the Jewish version of this fable, the Jewish people are the three pigs (the kosher version, of course) looking to build a home to live as Jews in peace. The anti-Semites are the big bad wolf (of which there is no shortage) intent on ripping the pigs from their homes and destroying them.

The Jews in ancient times built houses of straw that were blown awayby anti-Semitic wolves during the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and centuries-old pogroms. By the time they reached the shores of Europe in the later part of the 20th century, Jews built wooden homes believing themselves safe to practice their religion among the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We all know how that ended.

In the Jewish version of the story, the third pig represents two brothers that I’ll call Cain and Abel. Abel smartly moved to the land of Israel. The Jews in Israel learned their lessons of history, recognized their responsibility as God’s Chosen People, and built homes of bricks. And every time the big bad wolf attempted to climb down the chimney and destroy them, they further fortified their cities with concrete walls and missile defense systems. After thousands of years of wandering the global desert, they understood the gift – and obligation – bestowed upon them by God. To call these Jews survivors would be an understatement.

Cain moved to the U.S. and presents quite a different story indeed. American Jews have not learned the lessons of history and ignore their responsibilities to God and the Jewish people as a whole. Instead of building houses of bricks they have chosen to build a “big tent.”

They emulate their European ancestors who focused so intently on assimilating into society that they could not see the fires of the Holocaust burning around them. They worship false idols and pray at the Torah of abortion rights, environmentalism, and socialism much the way the Jewish people fell for the golden calf while waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai with God’s Commandments.

Like their ancestors, American Jews may find themselves forced to wander a desert of secular empty activism in the hopes of one day returning to their homeland if they do not wake up to the dangers surrounding them. A big tent is no way to survive when big bad wolves are looking to destroy you.

Tuesday Rally: No Israel Boycotters in Celebrate Israel Parade

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A coalition of concerned pro-Israel New Yorkers will be gathering Tuesday evening outside of the UJA-Federation building at 130 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.

The organizers say they are having the rally because every other effort the group has made over the past several years has failed to convince the UJA-Federation and the JCRC that people affiliated with organizations which support the boycott of Jews in Israel – anywhere in Israel – should not be given an official hecksher of “pro-Israel” bona fides by being welcomed to march in the Israel Day Parade in New York.

The theme of the group coalesced over time and became “It starts with boycotts.” That’s because the people whom the group does not want to be granted acceptance support boycotting Jews as a legitimate tool the pressure Israel to accede to their – not the voters of Israel, but their wishes in resolving the Arab Israeli conflict.

“It starts with boycotts of Jewish products, and ends with violence against Jews,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky emailed The Jewish Press Monday evening. She is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

“At this time, perhaps more than any other time since the beginning of the Holocaust, when anti-Israel hatred, and anti-Semitic and jihadist violence, are surging across the globe, it is time for the Jewish community to demand that Jewish leaders show some backbone,” Gilinsky explained.

As two New Yorkers put it in a letter they sent to the head of the UJA-Federation, their objection to the inclusion of people who intentionally harm Israel in the Israel Day Parade is not a matter of restricting free speech.

“Please do not confuse our opposition to the inclusion of BDS groups in the parade with any attempt to stifle free speech. On the contrary, we have no objection to the right of people to state their positions,” wrote Benjamin S. Klapper, of Manhattan. “As Jews and supporters of the state of Israel we do not have to furnish the platform.”

All of the rally organizers repeatedly made clear that they support the good work that the UJA-Federation and the JCRC do, especially their services for indigent and elderly Jews. But they all felt very strongly that it is wrong to permit those who willingly harm fellow Jews, or give support to those who do, to march with those whose love for Israel means they will fight for it, not against it.

“We stand with Israel, against the anti-Israel, Arab-supported BDS movement which dehumanizes Jews, demonizes Israel and which, sadly, some dishonorable Jewish groups support,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

The BDS movement promotes economic and legal warfare against Israel by promoting the implementation of Boycotts of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel and Israeli leaders.

The sorest point between the rally organizers and the gatekeepers for the parade is in the definition of boycott. For the pro-Israel group, anyone prepared to support those who do, or who themselves use economic warfare against Jews are supporters of anti-Israel boycotts, whether the support is for a boycott of all of Israel or only of Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

For those who make the eligibility determination, groups like J Street and the New Israel Fund and even the Partners for Progressive Israel, which consistently partner with or who fund groups that promote Israel boycotts or who promote boycotts themselves, their pro-Israel bona fides comes from their claim to “support Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Richard Allen, is the founder of JCCWatch. Allen is the main catalyst for the rally and the sustained effort to ensure the Celebrate Israel Parade includes only actual lovers of Israel. He explained to The Jewish Press that the UJA-Federation has been telling concerned donors that no BDS supporters will be marching in the parade.

“But that’s simply not true and they know that. Partners for a Progressive Israel march in the parade. That is a pro-BDS group,” Allen said.

A quick skip over to the Partners for a Progressive Israel website reveals that oh yes indeed, the group most certainly promotes the boycott of all kinds of Israeli products, including SodaStream (what would Scarlett say?), Ahava and, all told, more than a dozen products including wines, salads and spices made by Jewish companies. Most of which, by the way, employ Arabs at salaries far higher than the salaries at Arab-owned companies.

Take a look:

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products 

Joe Rapaport is a New Yorker who took the time to speak with John Ruskay, executive director of the UJA-Federation. Ruskay told Rapaport, that all the “groups marching in the parade have signed off that they are NOT in favor of BDS.” How to explain that position with the Partners for Progressive Israel’s proud affirmation of their boycott is difficult to understand.

But there is no need to attempt to reconcile those two contradictory positions, because the official  “2014 CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE – June 1, 2014 RULES AND REGULATIONS” makes no reference toBDS. The only requirement imposed on parade marchers is not even that they “support” Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but that they “identify” with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. No pledge is required, the statement just appears in the rule book.

Rapaport said that Ruskay also tried various hedges, like “the Federation does not decide who is in the parade, the JCRC does.” Ruskay conceded, however, according to Rapaport, that the Federation had the ability to influence the decision. Finally, Rapaport explained that Ruskay “jumped to the argument that to eliminate these [BDS supporting groups] would alienate big donors, specifically Bronfman.”

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?

“I have received calls this week from members of the Jewish establishment accusing us of trying to stop the parade altogether,” Gilinsky said.

“Neither could be farther from the truth. We certainly want the Celebrate Israel event to succeed — just without promoters of the anti-Jewish, Hamas-backed BDS movement parading down Fifth Avenue!”

Groups participating in the rally include JCC Watch, Americans for a Safe Israel, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Coalition for Israel, Young Israel of Kew Gardens, Jewish Action Alliance, Never Again is Now and the Jewish Political Education. Foundation

Video: Quinn’s ‘Jerusalem Is the Capital Of Israel’ Moment

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Speaking to NY1′s Josh Robin at the MET council legislative breakfast, ahead of the Celebrate Israel parade, mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn boosted her pro-Israel credentials with the common phrase: “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.” Ms. Quinn urged the US government to immediately recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/video-quinns-jerusalem-is-the-capital-of-israel-moment/2013/06/08/

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