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Protesters disrupt ‘Celebrate Israel’ parade as New York leaders salute Israel

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Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was awash in blue and white flags on Sunday, June 4 as the Celebrate Israel parade kicked off for its 52nd year. This year’s theme according to organizers was “Celebrate Israel All Together,” though the 50th year of Jerusalem’s “reunification” took center stage.

But for Palestinians, the so-called reunification of Jerusalem marks the beginning of Israel’s 50-year military occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem. With this in mind, multiple anti-occupation protests halted the parade along its route, resulting in 7 arrests by the NYPD.

Rosza Daniel Lang-Levitsky, one of those arrested for forming a blockade of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at 65th and 5th Avenue, sought with this action to highlight the collusion between New York law enforcement authorities and those in Israel.

“The creation of panic around supposed terrorist threats directly affects Muslim communities in ways that are very much driven by the New York City government’s commitment to exchanges with the Israeli government,” Lang-Levitsky told Mondoweiss. (Jewish Voice for Peace has recently launched a new campaign called #DeadlyExchange, bringing light to this very issue).

Shortly after the arrests, there were approximately 45 uniformed officers at the scene. When asked about the NYPD and Israeli police joint training, one officer did admit to recently participating in a training session with Israeli police officers in New York.

Some off-duty officers even participated in the parade, riding their NYPD motorcycles amongst the Chai Riders, a Zionist motorcycle club.

Rightwing Zionists and progressive Zionists in practice are no different said Lang-Levitsky, a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Artists and Cultural Workers Council.

“This parade is one of the points where it’s very visible that there’s absolutely no difference between these organizations and their support for state violence both in Palestine and in this country.”

Another group of protestors held a sit-in disruption of the LGBTQ parade contingent, with signs reading “No pride in apartheid” and “Queer Jews for a free Palestine.”

All 7 of the arrested protestors have since been charged and released. “The individuals who disrupted the parade were arrested and charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct,” an NYPD spokesperson told Mondoweiss.

Beyond technical police coordination between Israel and New York, the parade showcased cooperation of Israel and New York’s political elites.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer. (Photo: Sarah E)

Bill de Blasio marched alongside Nir Barkat while New York Senator Chuck Schumer, one of New York’s most outspoken critics of Trump and a familiar face at anti-Islamophobia rallies in the city, marched up Fifth Avenue waving an Israeli flag the entire way.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was featured prominently between Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan—an ardent backer of Israel’s illegal West Bank settlement enterprise— and Chemi Peres, the son of Israel’s former prime minister Shimon Peres. Cuomo was introduced as “a great friend of Israel and supporter of the Jewish community,” undoubtedly thanks in part to the anti-BDS legislation he signed into law exactly one year ago.

Other elected officials included Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaker of the New York City Council, New York City public advocate Letitia James and borough presidents of Queens and Manhattan, Melinda Katz and Gale Brewer.

Amid the 40,000 in attendance were members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a rightwing group the FBI deemed a terrorist organization that has seen a recent resurgence from obscurity.

The JDL seemed primarily interested in protesting a pro-Palestinian contingent penned in at 58th street that included Al-Awda New York, American Muslims for Palestine New Jersey, CODEPINK, International Action Center, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Labor for Palestine, Neturei Karta, NY4Palestine, New York City Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Rutgers SJP and Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

Members of the JDL refused to speak with Mondoweiss, but yelled things like “Go back to Jordan!” and “There is no Palestine, there will never be a Palestine” as can be heard in the accompanying video.

The Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund also sponsored a large float in the parade to celebrate the Israeli settler community in the West Bank city. The Hebron Fund is a tax-exempt organization that funnels money to settlements in Hebron and some of the most violent and ideological settlers—among them Baruch Marzel, the leader of Kach, a political party so violent and extreme it is outlawed in both Israel and the US as a terrorist organization.

A speaker on the Hebron Fund float loudly invoked a history of Jewish supremacy, calling Hebron “the foundation of Jewish peoplehood.”

Hebron is where “the Jewish people are being reborn. Nothing will push us, nothing will weaken us. We’re finally back home,” the speaker shouted.

“Come visit us in Hebron!”

Jesse Rubin

Jesse Rubin is a freelance journalist from New York. Twitter: @JesseJDRubin

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22 Responses

  1. eljay on June 6, 2017, 3:28 pm

    Zionists in the U.S. openly celebrate “Jewish State” supremacism and colonialism and American politicians condemn…errrr…jockey for title of Best Donkey Fellator. Impressive.

    • Mooser on June 6, 2017, 8:11 pm

      A black Jewish Star on a yellow background being fisted?

      • WebSkipper on June 7, 2017, 10:06 am

        That’s the Kach symbol, from Kahane’s party. Designated a terror organization by both Israel and U.S. Now the JDL uses it as their own.

      • Mooser on June 7, 2017, 11:21 am

        “That’s the Kach symbol, from Kahane’s party.”

        No, I think it’s the other end it refers to.

  2. festus on June 6, 2017, 6:38 pm

    Wow. US Senator waving the flag of a foreign nation.

    • CigarGod on June 7, 2017, 8:53 am

      As Mooser (i think) reminded us recently…Schumers father was an exterminator…and he swore he’d not follow in his footsteps.
      I can’t help but think of a company logo in Schumers hand as he parades down the street.

    • JWalters on June 7, 2017, 10:10 pm

      America’s Vichy government salutes its rulers.

  3. inbound39 on June 6, 2017, 7:03 pm

    The American Government needs to realise it will have no global support until it ditches the War Criminal State of Israel. Tillerson got welcomed to NZ by kiwi’s all along his motorcades route flipping him the middle finger. The entourage were shocked at New Zealanders response saying they had never experienced such obvious opposition anywhere. Kiwi’s are blunt and to the point. I f America is against terrorism then ditch Israel.

  4. JosephA on June 6, 2017, 9:12 pm

    Sounds surreal – does the modern state of Israel really need this many pats on the back?

  5. Atlantaiconoclast on June 6, 2017, 11:40 pm

    The most effective argument against Israel is to ask how anyone can justify Jewish nationalism, when nationalism of any largely White nation is demonized.

    Maybe the counter argument is, well, there is only one Jewish state. Well, which “White” nation will be allowed to stay White and to be FOR Whites alone?

    If White nationalism is wrong, so is Jewish nationalism. I wish people would stop being afraid to point this out.

  6. Citizen on June 7, 2017, 6:24 am

    Why weren’t the official terrorists JDL bunch arrested? Could the KKK participate in a parade anywhere in USA with their symbols? Just wondering.

    • Mooser on June 7, 2017, 11:24 am

      “Just wondering.”

      “Citizen”, in this day and age, especially in NY City people are not hassled for declaring their, their, uhh… you know, ‘preferences’.

  7. Marnie on June 7, 2017, 8:19 am

    Radical zionist terrorism is so mainstrem that u.s. senator will wave the flag of blue and white and march to the tune of the black and yellow.

  8. Atlantaiconoclast on June 7, 2017, 8:49 am

    Will we EVER see stories in mainstream media about Israeli influence or “meddling” in our elections, foreign policy, etc.?

    • Keith on June 7, 2017, 10:27 am

      ATLANTAICONOCLAST- “Will we EVER see stories in mainstream media about Israeli influence or “meddling” in our elections, foreign policy, etc.?”

      Not letters to the editor either. I know, I tried. All of this nonsense about the Russians while ignoring the elephant in the room. Some things just aren’t fit to print!

      • inbound39 on June 8, 2017, 8:45 am

        It is now being reported that Israel and Saudi put together the Qatar siege to further nullify and complicate the achievement of a Palestinian State. The attack in Iran is also being linked to Saudi. Funny how both targets are pet enterprises of Israel. Unless Israel is reigned in by the International Community, Israel is likely to trigger a war that will draw everyone in.

  9. WebSkipper on June 7, 2017, 9:58 am

    Kach flags and t-shirts all over the place.

  10. genesto on June 7, 2017, 4:11 pm

    On another note, tomorrow, June 8, is the 50th anniversary of the murderous Israeli attack on the US Liberty. I’m hoping/expecting to see at least one article in Mondoweiss covering this. At very least, there should be call for a complete investigation by our government, one that has never been taken clearly due to the power of the Israel lobby.

    Time to step up on this, Mondo. It’s all part of the same problem.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on June 7, 2017, 8:02 pm

      Amen! It is so frustrating to see most in this movement ignore the importance of educating the masses about the real harm Israel has done to the US over the years. It is the only way to wake people up. If we ever want to see an end to the Zionist enterprise, or at least an end to Zionist expansionism, and a fair solution to the conflict, we MUST stop being afraid of telling the truth.

      To the young ones here, if you don’t tell the truth about Israel and wake up Middle America, you will find yourselves in old age watching Zionists completely destroy any chance for a just peace.

    • JWalters on June 7, 2017, 10:14 pm

      It certainly won’t be covered in “America’s” Israeli-controlled news outlets. e.g. Won’t see foreign policy buff Rachel Maddow mentioning this, nor Joe Scarborough interviewing foreign affairs expert Richard Haass about it. Hmmm….

      • Atlantaiconoclast on June 8, 2017, 10:01 am

        The big question is why MONDOWEISS is not covering it? Geeze Louise!

  11. Ossinev on June 8, 2017, 1:24 pm

    “On another note, tomorrow, June 8, is the 50th anniversary of the murderous Israeli attack on the US Liberty. I’m hoping/expecting to see at least one article in Mondoweiss covering this. At very least, there should be call for a complete investigation by our government, one that has never been taken clearly due to the power of the Israel lobby.

    Time to step up on this, Mondo. It’s all part of the same problem”

    Probably like you I have been watching out for any specific commemorative events.The only ones I can find are organised by the Honor USS Liberty Veterans Association.

    Link to right of page.

    This is a clear Achilles Heel in the Zionist propaganda machine in America and I am surprised that more Americans have not/are not questioning the cover up. Perhaps it is a sense of shame over allowing and protecting the blatant cover up over the years.

    It remains a disgraceful stain on American history and a clear abandonment of US servicemen callously slaughtered by a so called friendly “nation”.

    May they rest in peace.

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