Leading Manhattan Congregation Vows to Pull Support for Israel Parade Unless ‘Anti-Israel’ Groups Are Barred From Participating
by Joshua Levitt
A leading Manhattan rabbi, representing some of the largest Sephardic communities in New York City, on Wednesday threatened to pull his support from the annual Celebrate Israel Parade, on June 1, unless the parade organizers bar “anti-Israel” groups from participating this year.
In a letter seen by The Algemeiner, Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D., spiritual leader of four Manhattan Sephardic institutions, the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue, the Moise Safra Community Center, the Magen David Congregation of Manhattan and the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan, addressed his concerns to the leaders of New York’s Jewish Community Relations Council, the JCRC, which organizes the parade and has insisted in letters that its “open tent” policy is to encourage all Jewish groups to be involved.
In the letter, Rabbi Abadie said he raised the same concerns in an email to the JCRC two years ago about including in the parade any Jewish group that promotes any type of boycott, divestment or sanctions, BDS, of Israel:
“That email regarded the inclusion of BDS supporters in the Celebrate Israel Parade,” the rabbi wrote on Wednesday. “We had our meetings and I understood the difficulty of excluding them then. As things have progressed, the situation has worsened regarding these Jewish groups that support BDS.”
The rabbi wrote, “We must not condone their actions, let alone allow anti-Israel groups to march under the banner of a legitimate group Celebrating Israel. The only thing they will want to celebrate is the demise of the State of Israel.”
“As a friend and admirer of your selfless devotion and dedication to Israel and the Jewish People, I urge you to disqualify these groups from ever marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade. Nothing less is acceptable.”
While other individuals and Israel advocates have spoken up about certain groups participating in the parade, most vociferously, activist Richard Allen of JCC Watch, Rabbi Abadie is believed to be the first community leader to threaten to withdraw the support of major institutions, in this case, four of them. He also wields influence over other New York congregations that would normally participate in the parade.
In his letter on Wednesday, the rabbi said, “Unless and until you assure me that the BDS supporting groups will not be marching in the Parade, I will pull our support from marching and will not be renewing our contract for a float this year.”
“Furthermore, I will be urging every Rabbi and leader of every Sephardic organization (as well as many others) in our community including Yeshivah of Flatbush, Magen David Yeshiva, Hillel Yeshiva, Barkai Yeshiva, Gesher Yehuda and several others to pull their support from the Parade as well.”
In his letter, the rabbi wrote of the evidence of the “anti-Israel” credentials of the boycott supporting groups, and called them out by name:
“It has been proven by the distinguished Alan Dershowitz and many others who investigated these groups, which include the New Israel Fund, J Street and others, that many of these ‘Jewish groups’ are financed by anti-Semites, Anti-Israel and Jew haters,” the rabbi said. “Their sole mission is to delegitimize and demonize the State of Israel until its extinction.”
“I am sure I do not need to bring to you the many sources that have already proven the true colors of these groups. Their disguise of being legitimate ‘Pro-Israel Jewish Groups’ has been already discovered and revealed as false, and as enemies of the State of Israel. These are the same groups who continue to accuse Israel of being an Apartheid State and a human rights violator, likening Israel to Nazi Germany. They are the ones who supported and celebrated the Goldstone Report, falsely accusing Israel of war crimes.”
He concluded, “I hope this unfortunate issue will be resolved quickly, thereby clearing a path so we can march and really Celebrate Israel.”
In a copy of his original letter, sent two years ago, the rabbi wrote, “My research regarding the NIF, the Israeli Knesset and news articles have already proven that the NIF has funded NGOs that have tried to delegitimize Israel and supported anti-Israel organizations. They have urged for boycotting Israel and its products and called for sanctions against Israel.”
“I would be very disturbed to see the NIF marching in the Salute to Israel Parade, a march and a day to show our support for Israel and not to delegitimize it.”
In an email about the boycott groups expected to be involved in the parade, JCC Watch listed the groups and described how they promote boycotts and divestments of Israel:
“Despite New Israel Fund‘s stated opposition to Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), their continued funding of these groups shows their actions are not in line with their statements.”
“For instance, five grantees of the New Israel Fund (MachsomWatch, Coalition of Women for Peace,Women Against Violence, Social TV, and Mossawa) signed a letter to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, urging it to divest from Israel.”
“Partners for Progressive Israel (also known as Meretz USA) prominently displays on its website, under the heading ‘boycott these Settlement products sold in the U.S.,’ a list of Israeli products that it wants Jews to boycott. These products include Ahava cosmetics, SodaStream products, and wine from nine Israeli vineyards.”
“The chair of B’Tselem’s board, Oren Yiftachel, has publicly called for ‘effective sanctions’ against Israel. B’Tselem is a major grantee of the New Israel Fund.”
“B’Tselem produced the Video that was shown at the infamous ‘Israel Apartheid 2012’ events held at Universities and Colleges worldwide.”
Allen wrote, “While the JCRC runs the parade, the UJA-Federation has effective control over the JCRC, as they appoint Board members as a right and contribute the major portion of JCRC funding,” as he urged pro-Israel Jews to protest the inclusion of these groups at a rally on April 8.
Also on Wednesday the Zionist Organization of America announced that it “strongly opposes the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)/NY Federation for granting permission to groups that promote boycotts of Israeli companies in Judea/Samaria to march in the Israel Day Parade.”
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The larger BDS movement is dedicated to Israel’s elimination. It is not a movement that merely criticizes particular Israeli policies. Especially when the larger BDS movement has gained ground, it is irresponsible and wrong for the JCRC to give legitimacy to Jewish organizations that support BDS with regard to Judea/Samaria.”
JCRC officials did not immediately provide comment on the letter.