I was at the Celebrate Israel Parade this past Sunday, as I’m sure many readers were. Naturally, I took quite a few pictures. My pictures include Mayor Eric Adams, who despite whatever his record as mayor might be, has always been a friend of the Jewish community. There was Curtis Sliwa, another friend, and Rudy Giuliani. I did not see Senator Charles Schumer. That’s good (although it’s possible I missed him).
Of course, I took photos of different floats, friends, and marching bands. But I decided to share for this column only two photos, which are not even of the parade itself, yet I believe are quite telling
First is the picture of a group of policemen huddled together, having a good schmooze with each other. It looked to me like they had not much to do. Truthfully, they didn’t. Isn’t that great?
Imagine what goes on at the other parades. In many of them, the hooting and drinking that goes on makes for a real rowdy scene. Can you imagine one day when the Palestinians have a parade? Surely there will be inflammatory speeches, hoisting of arms (in both senses of the word), and beatings of anybody who appears to be Jewish or Zionist, etc.
Yet, at the Celebrate Israel Parade, everything is calm and festive. Everyone is just glad to be able to support their Jewish homeland. Do these gentle people support a country that is being charged on college campuses, including our own CUNY, and some Democrat Members of Congress, with genocide and apartheid?!
I would like to challenge any anti-Israel student or politician with the following. If you were given a choice of appearing either in a Palestinian-controlled territory draped in an Israeli flag, or in Israeli territory (including the so-called settlements) draped in a PLO flag, which would you choose? Where do you think you have a better chance of being lynched? In the “genocidal” country of Israel, or in the territory of the poor Palestinian victims? What do you say, professors? What do you say, AOC and Rashida? What do you say, silent Nancy? What do you say, New York Times? What do you say, Ben & Jerry’s? What do you say, Jewish Voice for Peace?
It is important to note that the mask is off. It was always considered polite anti-Semitism to be critical of the settlements as the obstacle to peace. If the poor, deprived Palestinians would have their land back, all would be well and tranquil. It’s not Israel that was being criticized, just the settlements. Now the truth comes out in torrents. All of Israel is to be condemned. All of Israel is guilty of apartheid. All of Israel is genocidal. The creation of Israel was a disaster. At least we finally have the truth on the table. All who believed that the issue was settlements have been proven to be fools all along.
But I have a different thorny issue to discuss. Where was the Agudah crowd? Where was Lubavitch? Chabad appeared on lampposts but not in the streets. Now I am not naïve. I understand that both Chabad (yes, Chabad) and the Agudah are non-Zionist movements. So what? Our brethren in Israel, including the chareidi crowd in Israel, need our show of support more than ever. We are increasingly under attack here by the right and the left.
The Agudah does not believe in rallies? Well, they did go together with Satmar a few years ago to rally against the IDF (for considering drafting yeshivah boys) in the streets of Manahan. They can’t encourage a Zionist institution? Well, they are part of the Knesset. Rav Yitzchak Meir Levin zt”l of the Agudah signed on the Israeli Declaration of Independence because the hour called for it. The hour is calling for unity now!
Do what’s right! Don’t worry about the flanks to your right. Giving life support to our brethren is more important than all political considerations.
I understand the Agudah must follow the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. Was this at least brought up for discussion with them? Chabad is in a different orbit so I cannot address them. But they always figure out how to be in the mix with other Jews.
At least let’s see the Orthodox group together and hold their own rally. Yes, that’s an old gripe of mine. However, both the OU and the Agudah, as a result of one of my articles, were approached by veteran askanim to unify for these purposes. Unfortunately, neither side seemed interested.
I guess Mashiach can wait.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.