As I predicted a few months ago on these pages, New York’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) in conjunction with the UJA-Federation of New York shamefully allowed the New Israel Fund and others who support a boycott of Israel to march in the annual “Celebrate Israel Parade.”
Eric Goldstein, UJA NY’s President, deceptively tried to claim that the Israeli government wanted NIF to be part of the parade; yet that was quickly debunked as untruthful.
The JCRC created a new requirement, and asked participants to sign some odd,vague pledge that they rejected boycotts of Israel. Still, despite the fact that NIF continues to harm the Israel Defense Forces worldwide, and indeed advocates in plain language for boycotts while it also vociferously challenged Israel’s Supreme Court ruling outlawing boycott efforts, this group marched.
The JCRC created a new requirement, and asked participants to sign some odd,vague pledge that they rejected boycotts of Israel.
Despite NIF’s participation, I marched with my children and had a glorious time proudly promoting Israel. While we marched this year with RAJE (Russian-American Jewish Experience), I remembered many years growing up marching with the Betar Youth Movement. I tell my children about how my mother, the late Penny Waga, their grandmother, marched with Betar in the very first Salute to Israel Parade ever held in 1964; and how she remembered her father, Morris Waga during that period standing in the rain on the corner of 79th Street waving at her.
Annually, this event is a beautiful showcase, a stunning celebration for the Jewish State heading up 5th Avenue in New York. It’s a tradition that I believe is an important one for American Jews who love Israel, and one we continue to pass from generation to generation. As I marched on Sunday with my family, I smiled at the celebration for Israel in New York.
Today, however, American Jewry is withering away due to a staggering assimilation rate. While this parade was impressive, it was mostly an Orthodox driven event. Support from the non-Orthodox Jews in America is diminishing, and it does not take much to wonder how anyone can think including a group like the New Israel Fund - which works hard to marginalize and diminish Israel - in an event that has traditionally drawn the Jewish community together is beneficial.
We may yet know the answer. A UJA leader told me that today that the largest Jewish philanthropy is seriously considering cancelling the parade next year due to all of the criticism of the left leaning groups with anti-Israel agendas. Apparently, there are enough board members who support NIF over Israel’s wellbeing to force the UJA’s hand. A choice between supporting Israel in this spectacular way for all the world to see, and shutting it down to champion the NIF’s cause of bringing Israel down, seems an easy one for these people.
Extremist radical left-wingers in the Jewish establishment– like Alisa Doctoroff, President of UJA-Federation, Karen R. Adler of the Jewish Communal Fund – and others are NIF supporters. They enable those who support boycotts, and wish to see its work advanced. It is this type of thinking which harms the Jewish community, and undermines support for Israel.
What is most important is that American Jews feel something for Judaism and Israel – let’s hope that sane minds emerge to do what is best for the Jewish people.