After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the Celebrate Israel Parade and the Met Council breakfast returned on May 22. Traditionally, the breakfast and the parade are on the same day because it helps both events. There are people who would have gone to the breakfast even it was on another day but now will also go to the parade, and vice-versa. I went to both events.

I go to the Met Council breakfast because of the Queens Jewish Community Council’s affiliation with Met Council and to give thanks for the support they give the organization. I am not there to network. The problem with the breakfast and similar events is that they try to do two things at the same time: honor those who have helped the organization while at the same time allow networking. What happens is that many people who want to network stand up and talk during the presentations. It may upset some of the speakers, which is the last thing the organization wants, especially if you look to the speakers for government grants. Sometimes it seems like it is a losing battle to try to control the talking. Unfortunately, there are people who only care about themselves and have little respect for others. There appeared to be a smaller crowd than in the past, which initially should be surprising since the common parlance is that people are anxious to get back to normal. My feeling, which is shared by others, is the opposite - that people realized that they don’t have to sit through these types of events. Who wants to sit through hours of speeches? You can network other ways. Organizations that are having in-person fundraising dinners are seeing the same. Many people were very happy to have virtual dinners.

Traditionally, I march in the parade and then stay to watch the rest of it. This year I decided not to march and instead be a spectator when the parade started. As someone who usually marches with one of the early groups, it was unsettling to see so few spectators. Therefore, I thought my being a spectator was more important than being a marcher. It was very hot, so that could have influenced the crowd size, which unfortunately was not as large as it should have been. Considering the latest anti-Israel speech and proclamation at CUNY law school, I would have expected more supporters of Israel to have shown up. It is not enough to talk amongst ourselves about how much we support Israel or write articles in Jewish papers that support Israel; it is important to show up. The parade is the most visible event that gauges Jewish support for the State of Israel. Although there may have been a relatively small number of spectators, the parade still serves an important function. The marchers are young people from various Jewish communities and schools. By having them being involved in the parade, it should increase the likelihood that they will become active supporters of Israel. This is significant because as time has passed, support of Israel has fallen. We need the young people who will be the next generation of leaders to have as staunch support of Israel as their parents and grandparents have had.

One group that did show up with greater numbers than in the past was the Neturei Karta, who were dressed in black coats, long sleeve shirts, and hats in the heat. Although I disagree with their message, I admire their dedication to come despite the heat. It is something from which we can learn. Although I am not happy that they were there, I am not worried that they will have any effect on public opinion. American society and the Jewish community are not going to be swayed by their religious arguments against the state. Likewise, I am not worried about the small group of individuals who were waving Palestinian flags and screaming for the end of the State of Israel. It may be more upsetting to hear someone brazenly call for the destruction for the State of Israel. However, that approach is too blunt to have any chance of success. What concerned me the most was the smallest group, which held of signs that it is not antisemitic to criticize Israel and similar comments. They may have the same goals as the group that wants to destroy the State, but they are smarter in their approach.

An analogy is comparison of AOC and Jamaal Bowman to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Omar and Tlaib are forceful with their message, which turns off many people. Therefore, although the message may be jarring, their chance of success is limited. In contrast, AOC and Bowman are more dangerous. Bowman, who took the time to give a Zoom shivah call for an orthodox rabbi, gives the impression of being a decent person. AOC seems very personable in her delivery. When they talk, they do it in a way that is more subtle and thus more dangerous.

The situation is only going to get worse. The primaries in Pennsylvania showed that both extremes are getting support over the traditional center-left and center-right candidates. That is bad for the Jewish Community. The far-left and the far-right might not agree on much, but they do agree on the hatred of Jews and Israel. We must wake up and not take things for granted.

Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.