Why are Anti-Israel Groups in the Israel Day Parade?

Why are Jewish groups that attempt to inflict economic damage on Israelis through BDS and blacken Israel's image given a place in the Israel Day Parade? They have crossed a line, why are we letting them get away with it?

Richard Allen,


The Celebrate Israel Parade on June 3rd is a joyous event for the New York Jewish community, when we demonstrate our love and support of Israel. So why are organizations dedicated to destroying Israel's economy through boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) being given the privilege of marching with us?

One of these groups is openly organizing a boycott against targeted Israeli companies, including Ahava Cosmetics.  Others have supported the infamous Goldstone Report, and funded organizations that urged Norway to divest from Israel.

At the center of the controversy is the New Israel Fund (NIF), which was granted permission to march in last year's parade. Other extremist groups marched with NIF, displaying their individual banners, including B'Tselem, Partners for Progressive Israel and Rabbis for Human Rights. This year, New Israel Fund is slated to march again, and we expect B'Tselem and the other groups will once again join NIF, displaying their banners.

New Israel Fund has been exposed as receiving funds from the European Union, which seeks to influence internal Israeli politics through a front organization. NIF, in turn, funds numerous Israeli NGOs (non-governmental organizations), some of which promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

For instance, five grantees of the New Israel Fund (Machsom Watch, Coalition of Women for Peace, Women Against Violence, Social TV, and Mossawa) signed a letter to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, urging it to divest from Israel.

Partners for Progressive Israel (also known as Meretz USA) prominently displays on its website, under the heading "boycott these Settlement products sold in the US, "a list of Israeli products that it wants Jews to boycott. These products include Ahava cosmetics, SodaStream products, and wine from nine Israeli vineyards.

And the chair of B'Tselem's board, Oren Yiftachel, has publicly called for "effective sanctions" against Israel.  B'Tselem is a major grantee of the New Israel Fund.

As a result of public controversy, the New Israel Fund issued a statement in 2010 opposing BDS.  However, despite this stated policy change, NIF continues to fund groups that have a history of working for anti-Israel global BDS campaigns.

We who count ourselves among Israel's true supporters believe that Jewish groups that organize for the economic destruction of other Jews should not be given the honor of marching with our community. Furthermore, we must be mindful of the example we set for our children.  Do we teach them that it's acceptable to try to harm other Jews and weaken Israel?

In light of this unacceptable decision on the part of the parade organizers, I formed the Committee for a Pro-Israel Parade, along with several community-minded members.  Our goal is to inform the parade organizers that the Jewish community rejects the participation of these groups, and to ask them to withdraw their acceptance.

As word has spread about the participation of the New Israel Fund in the parade, many prominent leaders, rabbis, and organizations have added their name to our cause.  We are proud to acknowledge the support of Ron Carner, President of Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel, Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Congregation Ohab Zedek, Rabbi Lisa Malik, PhD of Temple Beth Ahm, Rabbi Jonathan Glass of Civic Center Synagogue, Rabbi David Algaze of Havurat Yisrael, Rabbi Steven Axelman of Whitestone Hebrew Centre, Rabbi Ari Jacobson, Young Israel of Monsey/Wesley Hills, Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, and many other outstanding community leaders. 

When Jewish groups hear that organizations linked to the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement are permitted to march in the parade, they're astounded and puzzled.  Why would the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which officially organizes the parade, permit such anti-Israel organizations to participate?

I believe the answer may lie in the political ideology of John Ruskay, CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York. Dr. Ruskay exerts significant influence on the JCRC through his organization's funding.  Published reports show John Ruskay worked with Noam Chomsky in one of the first political bash Israel groups; CONAME (Committee On New Alternatives in The Middle East).  John Ruskay also gave over one million dollars of UJA-Federation donations to a radical political group, funded by George Soros, Jewish Funds for Justice.

The issue is clear: Jews who actively work to economically sabotage Israel should not be included in the Celebrate Israel Parade. We ask that you join us in making your views known to the Jewish Community Relations Council and the UJA-Federation New York.