September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:At the Israel Day Parade, the important thing is that its in Hebrew
Blurb:At the Israeli Day parade, 51st Street was blocked by rows of children dressed in identical yellow shirts with Stars of David on them. It was heartwarming. Fifty-second Street was blocked by a huge group of Harley Davidson riders with Israeli flags on the backs of their bikes. It was a nice touch.
Body:Fifty-first Street was blocked by rows and rows of children dressed in identical yellow shirts with Stars of David on them. It was heartwarming. Fifty-second and 51st Streets were blocked by a huge group of Harley Davidson riders, with blondes dressed in leather holding on to their drivers. Their reason for their presence at the march was not immediately clear, but a closer look revealed a few Israeli flags on the backs of the bikes or in the womens hands. It was a nice touch, despite the death at last weeks Hells Angels convention in Las Vegas.
On the next street, a group of children waited to start marching. They held flags of Betar [a Zionist youth movement] and wore shirts with the slogan, Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In the middle of the street were slow-moving floats, reminiscent of the Adloyada [the Israeli Purim Carnival] but without the feel and character of that festival. The parade floats were filled with members of many organizations, mostly Jewish, each with a different message. Some were promoting peace; others were political, and others were commercial. Between the floats, groups of people marched.
After a small group of peace supporters, older men wearing medalsa group of World War II veteransmarched. From the middle of Fifth Avenue, one could see demonstrators and supporters, who stood behind the barriers on both sides of the street.
Jews and more Jews, mostly English speakers, came with their families on a beautiful sunny day. From behind the barriers, they smiled, screamed and reacted to floats. Both marchers and supporters sang happy songs like Halleluyah and Next Year in Jerusalem! (A peculiar selection, some might say.)
Many wore Israeli army shirts, doves on their shirts, or U.S. flag-bedecked shirts made especially for the march. A few were not quite as prepared, but they had dug deep into their closets and found shirts from El Al (the Israeli airline), Red Sea Gas and even one from the Dolphins Reef in Eilat. (Apparently, the most important thing was the shirt be written in Hebrew.)
Suddenly, in the midst of this happy scene, between two screaming babies on their parents shoulders, you could see a young couple, wearing Kaffiyahs, standing silently holding a Palestinian flag with a frozen stare. There were other protestors screaming and booing. Though they were mostly drowned out by the large crowd, they made themselves heard and caused a bit of commotion that briefly disturbed the otherwise happy march of pride.
Some old ladies sat on plastic chairs on a platform under some large trees, fanning themselves with newspapers. It would have been great if someone had jumped onto one of the floats, a la Matthew Broderick in the movie Ferris Buellers Day Off. If someone had grabbed the microphone and sung a Beatles song, instead of the religious music coming from most of the loudspeakers, it might have forced the women to get off their plastic chairs and dance.
Summertime dreams, brought on by the pleasant sunshine, were interrupted by a young girl zigzagging and looking annoyed as she walked back and forth down the avenue.
What happened? I asked.
What is going on here is simply militaristic and deceptive! the young girl said. This is not a demonstration to support Israel; it is just to support Israels policies in the occupied territories. Most people here are right-wing extremists. I am embarrassed to be here, she said, pointing at a smiling mother, whose baby held a sign that read Make Israel secure, No Arabs, No Terror.
At the end of the parade some marchers yelled Shame on France. Behind them were a group of teenagers, marching in total silence, holding a banner that read, Peace and Kindness." Peace and kindness indeed.