Menu JTA Search

Nearly a Quarter-million Persons March in Israel Independence Day Parade

“Jewish Power” and “Kiss Me, I’m Jewish” were among the buttons displayed today as nearly a quarter-million persons participated in a joyous 29-block parade celebrating Israel Independence Day. An estimated 75,000 marchers–representing 300 school and youth groups sponsored by 76 national and local Jewish organizations under the banner of the American Zionist Youth Federation–sang Hebrew songs and manned festive floats in the parade up sunny, humid Fifth Avenue. The police estimated the number of onlookers at 150,000. One of the honored guests. Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli ambassador to the United States, spoke from the reviewing stand and said Israel was “prepared to go it alone” in the Middle East if necessary. Questioned afterwards by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Mr. Rabin said he hoped a confrontation with Soviet pilots could be avoided. But he was reluctant to discuss the matter further in the hubbub of the parade. The other honored guest was Israeli Consul General Reheavim Amir.

Three of the four gubernatorial candidates–Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Deputy Mayor Robert M. Morgenthau and businessman Howard J. Samuels–reaffirmed in interviews their endorsement of additional U.S. jet sales to Israel. The fourth candidate, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, who had agreed to serve with the other three as grand marshals of the parade, cancelled his appearance on Friday, according to parade director Ray Goodman. Theodore C. Sorensen, Democratic committee candidate for U.S. senator, told the JTA he was not bothered by criticism in some quarters that his pleas on behalf of Soviet Jewry in Moscow recently were a ploy to gain Jewish votes. He of course wanted Jewish votes, said Mr. Sorensen, who is Jewish, but he noted that Israeli Premier Golda Meir had welcomed his Moscow remarks.

Parade banners and buttons included the slogans “Are We the Jews of Silence?,” “Israel Is Real, “Israel Must Live” and “Israel–Right On!” An “Israel’s Birthday Begin” was scheduled for 2:30 in the Central Park Sheep Meadow, with participants invited to “Dance to rock bands, play your guitar. sing, dance, paint, groove, lay tefillin or just graze.” The militant Jewish Defense League distributed leaflets quoting the longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer as stating: “The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts, and Jewish resources…Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us. Israel must live!” An ad hoc group called Jews for Peace sought signatures on petitions supporting the Hatfield-McGovern Senate proposal to bar further monies for U.S. action in Cambodia.

NEXT STORY