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Jewish activists arrested for protesting New York pro-Israel parade

New York’s annual, lavishly-funded Celebrate Israel parade was interrupted by scores of American Jewish activists, several of whom were arrested in the process.

Jewish protesters are arrested after disrupting the Celebrate Israel parade in Manhattan, New York City, June 4, 2017. (Jewish Voice for Peace)

Jewish protesters are arrested after disrupting the Celebrate Israel parade in Manhattan, New York City, June 4, 2017. (Jewish Voice for Peace)

Seven Jewish protesters were arrested in New York on Sunday afternoon as over 100 activists disrupted the annual Celebrate Israel parade. The event, which sees thousands of participants march down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue accompanied by elected officials such as Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, has received nearly $800,000 in funding from the Israeli government over the last seven years.

The counter-demonstrations were held by Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, who blocked the progress of the parade, unfurled banners in the middle of Fifth Avenue and staged sit-ins. Six of the seven JVP members who were arrested were released later on Sunday, and the last person is expected to be released on Monday.

The purpose of the counter-demonstration was to draw attention to Israel’s 50-year-old occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, the organization said in a statement. The protest, held under the slogan of “Celebrate Ending Israeli Apartheid,” was also intended to highlight exchange programs between the New York Police Department and Israeli security forces, which JVP calls “an exchange of worst practices that harm communities of color and Palestinians.”

Protesters reported being cursed at, threatened and manhandled by participants in the Celebrate Israel parade, as well as by private security, as they made their way past police barricades to disrupt the march. The activists stalled the progress of the mayor for several minutes, while the LGBTQ bloc in the parade was interrupted by a group of queer Jews, who held up signs saying, “No pride in apartheid” and “Queer Jews for a free Palestine.” Five of the LGBTQ Jewish protesters were among those arrested.

A group of queer Jewish activists disrupts the Celebrate Israel parade in Manhattan, New York City, June 4, 2017. (Jewish Voice for Peace)

A group of queer Jewish activists disrupts the Celebrate Israel parade in Manhattan, New York City, June 4, 2017. (Jewish Voice for Peace)

IfNotNow, who unraveled a banner saying “No celebration with occupation” in the middle of the parade, also staged other protests across the country to mark the occupation turning 50 this week.

IfNotNow demonstrators in Washington, D.C., protested outside a gala hosted by Friends of the IDF, which raises millions of dollars a year to for Israeli soldiers during and after their service. Activists read the mourners’ kaddish in memory of those killed as a result of the occupation, and held signs reading “Occupation is not my Judaism” while calling on gala attendees to work against the occupation and be honest with potential IDF recruits about the realities of serving in an occupying army.

In California’s Bay Area, meanwhile, a separate chapter of IfNotNow protested outside a Christians United for Israel event, held to celebrate what it termed “the 50th anniversary of Zion’s restoration.” CUFI, a conservative Christian Zionist organization led by right-wing Evangelical John Hagee, considers itself “the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States.”

The protests in New York, D.C. and California are the latest in a series of high-profile actions taken by American Jewish activists both in the U.S. and Israel-Palestine. At the end of May, protesters were forcefully removed from a nonviolent demonstration during Jerusalem Day, with Israeli police breaking the arm of a 25-year-old woman.

The week before, over 100 American and other international Jewish activists were part of a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli and American Jewish groups that established an anti-occupation protest camp in the West Bank. The Sumud Freedom Camp, located in the south Hebron hills, has now been standing for over two weeks.

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    1. tzedek

      Great job !

      Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      Well, let’s see. 40,000 people come to the Parade in New York, and 100 “activists” come to protest it. A real groundswell of opposition.
      In Israel on Jerusalem Day, it was reported that 40,000 came to celebrate and dance into the Old City on their way to the Kotel. It was reported also that something like 30 “activists” came to block the Shechem (Damascus) Gate entrance into the Old City. Again, we see a real groundswell of opposition. If things continue to grow at this rate, in another 1000 years or so, the “activists” will end up outnumbering the celebrants.

      Really grasping at straws.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Firentis

      At least they showed up to protest in the correct country rather than infiltrating a foreign country to stage public disturbances and confront the police.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      You extreme rightists really ought to get together and work on staying on message or having a message. You can’t decide if these Jewish exercisers of excellent civil disobedience are a totally trivial phenomenon or are nefarious, dangerous “infiltrators” worthy of high level Mossad counter-operations. Perhaps they are neither. But do get together and work on your message.

      Reply to Comment
      • Firentis

        Is our cult not sufficiently uniform in its opinions for you?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          There is a difference between internal core beliefs and propaganda meant for external consumption. The Scientologists do not bother with their attacks on outsiders being internally consistent.

          Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            So, it doesn’t matter what we say, because you know what we really believe. That is a really useful level of obtuseness.

            Reply to Comment