Members of Knesset march in the Celebrate Israel parade in New York.
(photo credit: TALI BLANKFELD)
Sixty-four years ago, prime minister David Ben-Gurion made a historic visit to New York City.
He was given a hero’s welcome by one million New Yorkers who lined the sidewalks of 5th Avenue to cheer him on as he led a parade, showered with confetti and with the deep emotions of goodwill and brotherhood that to this day are the foundations of the bond between Israel and the United States of America, a bond like which there is no other in the family of nations.
Thanks to the valiant efforts and dedication of various Jewish leaders in New York, the tradition of this parade has continued uninterrupted year after year and this year is no exception. This is the largest, most impressive celebration of Israel in the world.
We owe a particular debt of thanks to the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council of New York), under the leadership of Rabbi Michael Miller and the support of the UJA Federation of New York, who have picked up the burden of organizing this year’s parade, which was held on Sunday, May 31, and have done so with great professionalism, commitment and spirit.
The Consulate General of Israel in New York, the recipient of this great honor on behalf of the people of Israel, salutes and thanks the organizers for their efforts.
Declaring their love and support for the Jewish state, the participants in the parade include Jews and Christians, young and old, religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, artists and entrepreneurs, luminaries and lay-people.
I wonder whether there is anything else that can unite the Jewish communities more strongly than this, their devotion to the Jewish homeland.
Over and above the Jewish community, the parade was a celebration of Israel in which representatives of all the different tiles that make up the mosaic of New York City take part.
This celebration is a precious one, and one that needs to be protected.
It needs to be protected from any attempt to undermine the fraternity and goodwill generated by this parade, by turning it into an arena of political strife and infighting – a move certain to lead to the demise of this noble tradition.
No greater gift than this could be made to the boycotters, the Israel-haters and the anti-Semites – those very same groups those who politicize the parade claim to oppose. If the tradition of the parade would die as a result of politicization, we would be handing them a handsome victory on a silver plate.
Rather than seeing it mired in controversy and accusations, we wish to see this parade march under the same banner that it did in past years, with leaders like Ben-Gurion at its head.
That is the banner of amazement and appreciation for Israel’s incredible achievements.
Back then, Israel’s main achievement was her very survival. Today Israel’s achievements are her outstanding and innovative contributions to the world in fields spanning healthcare, telecommunications, agriculture, jazz, dance, clean-tech, road-safety and many, many more.
That is something we can all celebrate.The author is consul-general of Israel in New York.