Some 125,000 Marchers, Spectators Participate in Israel Independence Day Parade

About 75,000 Jewish youths and adults, many in colorful costumes, marched on Fifth Avenue under cloudy skies today in the seventh annual Salute to Israel Parade celebrating the forthcoming 23rd anniversary of Israel’s independence. Spectators along the 29-block route of march–57th to 86th Streets–were estimated at 50,000, a relatively small turn-out attributed to unseasonably chilly weather. Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York headed the political figures on the reviewing stand. Israel was represented by its two senior envoys–Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin who came from Washington for the occasion and Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations. Strong winds bearing a hint of lingering winter did not dampen the enthusiasm of the marchers whose theme was “Am Israel Chai.” But unlike previous years’ parades, the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union received equal attention and sometimes overshadowed the purely Israeli theme of the event. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s reporter, the most elaborate floats were those of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. One of them depicted a prison cage with four men inside wearing prisoners’ garb. The parade began at 11:00 a.m. when a cantor chanted the mourning prayer for six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, followed by the sounding of the Shofar.

It ended about five hours later when an estimated 50,000 youths gathered in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow for a musical “Be-In” for Israel sponsored by the New York Union of Jewish Students. The parade was free of incidents. The JTA reporter said police would not confirm reports that about 10 Arabs staged a demonstration at one point along the parade route and that several were arrested. They also would not confirm reports that the Arabs clashed with members of the Jewish Defense League who had a large contingent among the marchers. Premier Golda Meir of Israel sent “greetings from Jerusalem re-united” to the marchers. Her message said in part, “In all our trials and hopes we are deeply encouraged by the great wave of identification and sympathy from Jew and non-Jew alike in the great metropolis of New York…We know that they sense with us the new epoch of Jewish history now unfolding.” Ambassador Tekoah declared in a speech greeting the marchers that Israel will not yield and will not move until its legitimate rights are assured. Ambassador Rabin thanked Americans for their support of Israel. The young participants in the parade represented some 300 synagogues, schools and youth groups in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. The parade was sponsored by the American Zionist Youth Foundation.

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