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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Day Parade’

‘Judaism Rejects Zionism’

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

On a beautiful Sunday morning in May, I was driving south on the West Side Highway in New York City, heading towards the Israel Day Parade. As my car made it’s way along the mighty Hudson river, I marvelled on how awesome this city is. I saw myriads of buff joggers, happy barbecues taking place on well-tended Riverside park lawns, and of course, the imposing, surreal, gigantic skyscrapers that adorn this world-capital metropolis.

I travel often to New York to promote a stronger connection between North American Jews and Israel, and to encourage Aliyah, and every time I go I am struck by the thought: How is the Aliyah idea going to compete? This place just has too much of a magnetic pull and Jews have everything here – financial success, the best of world culture, freedom to worship, and all in relative safety, in the shadow of this great city.

While I was pondering this, I saw an airplane flying low over the Hudson River, at first thinking it was a WWII relic. But then I realized it was one of those propeller planes that tow a sign for people to read at the beach. I could make out the first letter was a “J” and so I guessed it was Christian advertising promoting you-know-who. “New York is still a non-Jewish town, and Jews will never feel fully comfortable here” I thought. But as the plane got closer, the sign said something else, something very Jewishy indeed.

It read: “Judaism rejects Zionism and the State of Israel -NK, USA.”

Yup, Neturei Karta rented a plane and flew an anti-Zionist sign from the Rockaways all the way up past Manhattan – all in an effort to push back against the Israel Day Parade. Now I felt totally dejected, because I realized how doubly hard it will be to detach Jews from New York. Not only is the city tantalizing, but there is a conscious effort being made to disconnect Jews from Israel.

You may argue that Neturei Karta is an extremist group and is unrepresentative of American Jewry, and that is true. But they are not the only ones mounting a distance-yourself-from-Israel campaign. On both ends of the Jewish political spectrum there are movements which seek to disengage Jews from Israel.

For some in the Progressive movement it has been in vogue to see Israel as immoral, repressive, racist, as an apartheid state, and even equivalent to the Nazi regime. In a recent article featured on Tikkun Magazine’s website, reprinted from Haaretz, the writer asserts:

“The practice of denying the Palestinians their basic civil rights in the occupied territories under the army’s colonial regime – exemplified by the scandalous policy of administrative detentions and the disappearing of people in Israeli prisons for years because of their opposition to repression and humiliation – is frighteningly similar to the persecution practiced by the dark regimes of the 20th century against their opponents.”

These Progressives may believe they are helping Israel through their criticism, but the real effect is that Jews who come in contact with them are distanced from Israel. Israel is decidedly not their country because it does not meet their progressive Jewish moral standards, or in other words: their Judaism rejects Zionism. “Forget it man, Israel is a mess,” says the liberal-minded Jewish student on campus.

The ultra-Orthodox Chariedim may come from the polar opposite world view, but they too have a Jewish moral reason to get some distance from Israel: Israel is not religious enough, not Torah enough. According to this doctrine Israel was built as a secular State by those antagonistic to Judaism and today is still run by those antagonistic to Judaism. The coercive secularism of Zionism is at the root of the real Israel, and the advent of Yair Lapid only prove that nothing has changed.

Hamodia, the self-described, “Daily Newspaper of Torah Jewry,” had this as the opening line of a recent article: “Secular politicians in Israel — not all of them, but those who are leading the campaign for an ‘equal sharing of the defense burden’ — want to deal the chareidim a crushing defeat.”

How ironic. Both of these Jewish groups could see Israel in a totally different light if they only chose to.

Puerto Ricans Cheer Weiner a Week after Jews Booed Him

Monday, June 10th, 2013

New York City’s annual Puerto Rican parade gave the city’s mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner a rousing welcome Sunday, one week after the controversial candidate was roundly booed at the annual Israel Day parade.

“You got the best name ever! Everybody loves a Weiner! There goes our next mayor. You could run for president with a name like that,” shouted one Puerto Rican parade participant into a microphone, as reported by The New York Daily News.

Weiner’s supported played down the sexting scandal, which was the source of a nasty response by Weiner in the Israel Day parade.

Backlash Against Inclusion of BDS in Israel Day Parade

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

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.

Salute to Israel Day Parade

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

 

As in past years, thousands of people from all over the country descended on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to cheer on the dozens of floats and marchers in the annual Salute to Israel Day Parade. Also, as in past years, many local politicians came to publicly express their support for Israel, along with tens of thousands of other supporters.

One difference: This year saw Yuri Foreman, a well-known Russian Jewish boxer and rabbinical student, marching through the parade, coming off another strong boxing victory.

 

Despite some weather concerns from earlier reports, it turned out to be beautiful once the sun came out – which did not take too long. Children lined up for blocks trying to get a peek at the most colorful and extraordinary floats. “We come out every year to show our support for Israel and admire the floats,” said Sara Greenwald from Brooklyn. “The kids love it and look forward to it each year.”

“At a time when Israel requires our support as much as ever, this unbelievable crowd is definitely a positive boost,” a man with a fisherman hat was overheard saying.

Israel Day Parade, Manhattan

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Question: How would you rate this year’s turnout?

 

 

 

Pretty good. There seems to be a large, energetic crowd. I wasn’t here last year because I wasn’t in New York. This year I’m marching with Touro College since I go there for graduate school, but I would have came anyway to show my support.


Raizel Adler, student

 

 

 

 


 


Not only are there more people this year, but I find that more organizations are here too. I’m here today working for Zaka by selling flags, pins, and other items to raise money for the organization. I find that the crowd is buying more this year and that they really are interested in helping out.


David Ambinder, student


 


 

 


This year, people came more to help out, not just hang out. Last year, I recall, people stayed for an hour or so and then moved on after their friends were done marching, but this year people are sticking around till the end. I also see more people willing to give money to help out organizations. I also see more non-Jews in the crowd compared to last year.


Shmuely Golomb, student 


 


 

 


This year’s parade is very inspiring. It’s nice to see how many people are committed to living a Jewish life. There is a strong turnout and I’m thrilled to see how many youngsters came out to join. They seem to really be involved in Israel’s future.


Helene Garber, social worker

Why I Boycotted The Israel Day Parade

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

For the first time in 16 years, I did not attend the Israel Day Parade. This was not due to a conflicting schedule that prevented me from going, albeit with misgivings and guilt-feelings.
 
I did not go because I chose not to go; because I could not bring myself to cheer on a country represented by a government with policies colored by corrupt and self-destructive tendencies.
 
I did not go because, though the absence of one individual could in no way even begin to make a dent in the multitudes that attended, it was my personal way of protesting a government that destroyed the lives of nine thousand people in Gaza and jeopardizes the lives of thousands more in Judea and Samaria. I did not go because I no longer have the same pride in the State of Israel that I once did.

Following last summer’s disengagement from Gush Katif – the culmination of the retreatist and pacifist moves by the Israeli government since Oslo – I suffered a long bout of depression. I do not think I am alone in stating that the very core of my belief in the verity of the State of Israel was challenged. If this is how a government representing the Jewish people could behave – if the lives of its citizens could be jeopardized to suit the personal gains of its politicians, as many have suggested – then maybe I’d been duped.

Maybe those individuals with whom I’ve had intense debates over the validity and role of the State of Israel were right after all. Maybe we should wait until Moshiach comes to welcome a sovereign Jewish presence in the Holy Land.

For a long time I was unable to shake this inner turmoil. I played out both sides of the debate in my mind, trying to find a resolution within myself. I felt bitterness and estrangement from a country I had held up as an ideal for so many years. A new wave of depression would come over me whenever Hatikvah was sung at public gatherings – Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel, which once filled me with such tremendous pride and longing.

How regretful I am that my children are now used to hearing me rant on the subject of Israel – me, who’d grown up only singing Israel’s praises.

I finally found solace in something that, while it may not seem novel or brilliant to anyone else, served as a satisfying explanation for me and a conclusive refutation of my nagging doubts. Quite simply, I hit upon the commonly used clich? “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”

Yes, Israel’s government is more often than not corrupt and dissolute. Yes, a majority of its citizens are profoundly misdirected and indifferent. Yes, the country that once symbolized strength and perseverance in the face of immeasurable odds is now dominated by pacifism and strife.

But is the actual country of Israel to blame? Is the concept of a Jewish state any less valid just because many of its people are not meritorious? Are the accomplishments of its increasingly isolated settlers, or the Torah learning of its sincerely devout, any less meaningful because they come not from the secular mainstream but from the ideologically driven?

Just as the Torah is not in any way diminished in its ultimate value because the Jewish people do not live up to its teachings, so too, I feel, should the concept of a Jewish national renaissance in the land of Israel not be disparaged. The holiness of the land is not devalued because of the lack of holiness among its inhabitants.

I am still a believer in the ideals of Zion. I love the land of Israel as much now as ever before. I think the inner struggle I went through strengthened my appreciation for the land and ingrained in me an even more fierce desire to try, in any way an individual can, to speak out against the self-destructive policies of Israel’s current leaders.

The miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people in Israel in the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973; in the Entebbe rescue of 1976; in the Iraqi reactor strike in 1981 – all should be testament to Hashem’s validation of the existence of the State of Israel and His wish for the Jewish people to safeguard the Holy Land.

A single individual may question the course of history, criticize leaders whose actions or inaction has affected that history, and quake at the prospect of history repeating itself. But in the end, I have learned that we should not discard the ideals we have held dear simply because the implementers of those ideals have failed us.

If we can let go of our dreams so quickly after a struggle, than we have failed ourselves. Hopefully things will change for the better, and next year I will be proud to attend the parade.

Sara Lehmann, formerly an editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, is currently a mother and freelance editor residing in Brooklyn.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-i-boycotted-the-israel-day-parade/2006/06/07/

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