For the second time in as many years, grass roots pro-Israel New Yorkers held a rally outside the NYC UJA Federation building and blasted their shofars to bring attention to what they are describing as a deficiency of leadership.
More than a hundred people showed up to hear speeches criticizing the NYC UJA-Federation, especially its president, Alison Doctoroff, for giving their hecksher to organizations that seek to financially harm Israel, and to join in the 100-strong Shofar blowing intended to focus attention on the problem.
The pro-Israel activists were protesting the decision made by the UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council leadership to allow groups which support boycotts of such iconic Israeli products as SodaStream and Ahava to once again march in the NYC Celebrate Israel Parade.
Beth Gilinsky, the president of the National Conference of Jewish Affairs, one of the organizational supporters, has been trying for many years to galvanize what passes for institutional Jewish leadership in the United States to take strong affirmative positions on behalf of Jews and the Jewish State. She sees the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) campaign as the latest anti-Semitic strategy, one for which too many Jews have fallen.
“Through heavily-funded tsunamis of lies, disinformation, and agitprop, BDS seeks to malign what is beautiful and positive and strong about Israel. BDS is evil and essentially anti-Semitic, passing off as expressions of ‘justice’ false accusations against Israel and Jews. Israel is not an ‘apartheid’ state, as the BDSers propound, but in so many ways is the one beacon of light and progress in a neighborhood teeming with brutality and oppression.
“Skyrocketing BDS has led to increased threats and violence against Jewish people, Jewish institutions, and property. Even our young Jews are not free of it, as BDS has provoked a widespread climate of aggression against Jewish students on American campuses. I urge every Jew, and every Jewish organization across the globe, to step forward as a united front at this time in history to challenge those — be they Palestinian Arab agitators or hard Leftist Israel-bashers — working overtime to ignite anti-Semitism and destroy Israel.”
Richard Allen, the force behind JCC Watch, served as the master of ceremonies for Monday’s rally. Allen explained why so much of the focus of the rally this year was on UJA-Federation president Alisa Doctoroff. Doctoroff is a major supporter of the New Israel Fund, which funds entities that advocate boycotts of Israeli products. The NIF was permitted once again to march in the Celebrate Israel parade, which the UJA Federation and the NYC JCRC oversee.
Allen made the point: “Some of these groups are marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade when their purpose is NOT to celebrate Israel, but to denigrate it.”
Participant at 101 Shofar rally in NYC to protest BDS advocates in Celebrate Israel Parade. May 11, 2015
New Yorker Lauri Regan, representing the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), also spoke at Monday night’s rally. Regan spoke about the growing delegitimization of Israel across the globe, and in particular how it manifests on U.S. campuses.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus