Annual BBQ Heats Up Serious Issues (PHOTOS)
Hotdogs sizzled on the grill and nibbles and nosh’s were abundant at the annual Jewish Heritage BBQ at the Mansion – Gracie, that is – as hundreds of members of the Jewish community and its friends gathered to celebrate. His staff’s concern about the possibility of excessive heat, said the Mayor, was unnecessary. “If this group could wander in the desert for 40 years,” he had assured them, “we could handle one hot night to celebrate Jewish Heritage!” (As though to remind all of Who is in charge, soon after the Mayor left the stage, thunder cracked and the rains poured fourth….)
After admonishing the “ladies” – “shush-ing” them from the podium – the Mayor’s remarks became more serious, noting that New York extends a universal welcome to all. “Jews have a particular obligation to make sure that we defend the rights of others to pray as they want to,” said Bloomberg.” The annual celebration, said the Mayor, is more than a change to mingle and nosh. It is a reminder that we must stand up for all who seek liberty and freedom. “Limiting the freedom of one group limits the freedom of all people, always… New York,” assured the Mayor, “is going to be the freest city in the world”- a big part of why “New York City is the greatest center of Jewish communal life outside of Israel.”
The Mayor’s statements on Israel were exceptionally strong and direct, garnering him a series of elongated rounds of applause. “We are here,” he announced, “to celebrate the one nation in the world whose very existence is tied to that (Jewish) heritage…Israel is a country of vital importance to the Jewish community and everyone who cares about freedom – the one nation in the world tied to the heritage of the Jewish people, whose future must be assured to protect that heritage.”
The Mayor’s specifically stated that Israel is “America’s best friend in the Middle East,” and demanded that “America’s commitment to Israel must be iron clad.” “Israel’s right to self defense against all its adversaries, with defensible borders, is none negotiable. Period, end of story!” garnered multiple rounds of ardent applause.
Mayor Bloomberg welcomed “our Consul General – Ido Ahoroni” (Israel’s Consul General in New York) who acknowledged the Mayor’s significant activity in Israel. The New York Jewish community, said the Consul, is unique in its ability to understand the realities of what Israel is all about. In New York, he said “Israel is a local story.”