Yishai Fleisher, YNET
On a beautiful Sunday morning in May, I was driving south on the West Side Highway in New York City, heading towards the Israel Day Parade. As my car made its way along the mighty Hudson River, I marveled on how awesome this city is. I saw myriads of joggers, happy barbecues taking place on well-tended Riverside park lawns, and of course, the imposing, surreal, gigantic skyscrapers that adorn this world-capital metropolis.
I travel often to New York to promote a stronger connection between North American Jews and Israel, and to encourage aliyah, and every time I go I am struck by the thought: How is the aliyah idea going to compete? This place just has too much of a magnetic pull and Jews have everything here — financial success, the best of world culture, freedom to worship, and all in relative safety, in the shadow of this great city.
While I was pondering this, I saw an airplane flying low over the Hudson River, at first thinking it was a WWII relic. But then I realized it was one of those propeller planes that tow a sign for people to read at the beach. I could make out the first letter was a “J” and so I guessed it was Christian advertising promoting Jesus. “New York is still a non-Jewish town, and Jews will never feel fully comfortable here” I thought. But as the plane got closer, the sign said something else, something very Jewishy indeed.
It read: “Judaism rejects Zionism and the State of Israel — NK, USA.”
Yup, Neturei Karta rented a plane and flew an anti-Zionist sign from the Rockaways all the way up past Manhattan — all in an effort to push back against the Israel Day Parade. Now I felt totally dejected, because I realized how doubly hard it will be to detach Jews from New York. Not only is the city tantalizing, but there is a conscious effort being made to disconnect Jews from Israel.
You may argue that Neturei Karta is an extremist group and is unrepresentative of American Jewry, and that is true. But they are not the only ones mounting a distance-yourself-from-Israel campaign. On both ends of the Jewish political spectrum there are movements which seek to disengage Jews from Israel.
For some in the Progressive movement it has been in vogue to see Israel as immoral, repressive, racist, as an apartheid state, and even equivalent to the Nazi regime. In a recent article featured on Tikkun Magazine’s website, reprinted from Haaretz, the writer asserts:
“The practice of denying the Palestinians their basic civil rights in the occupied territories under the army’s colonial regime — exemplified by the scandalous policy of administrative detentions and the disappearing of people in Israeli prisons for years because of their opposition to repression and humiliation — is frighteningly similar to the persecution practiced by the dark regimes of the 20th century …read more