NEW YORK (May. 11)
Thousands of young people marched along Fifth Avenue in warm and sunny weather today in the 11th annual “Salute to Israel” parade declaring that Israel will survive despite acts of terrorism against her and that the Jewish people are united as one. According to Robert H. Arnow, a parade co-chairman, an estimated 250,000 persons lined up along the 15-block route. An independent check by the JTA with police officials at the parade confirmed the figure. The event, sponsored by the American Zionist Youth Federation, marked Israel’s 27th anniversary.
The response to terrorism was a strong theme in this year’s march. The “Am Echad” theme float carried five high school students from Maalot, Kiryat Shemona, Bet Shean, Shlomi and Safad, all development towns which were targets of terrorist attacks. They were preceded by a group of American Jewish high school students carrying a banner saying, “We welcome our sisters and brothers from Israel.” A group of youngsters from the East Midwood Jewish Center of Brooklyn wearing green and white gowns, carried flowers in memorial of terrorist victims.
Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, a special guest of the parade, said he was bringing greetings to the “greatest Jewish city in the world from the world’s oldest Jewish city.” He said the spectators and marchers were giving support to Israel. “Jerusalem will remain united,” he declared. “Israel will live.” Kollek said Israel and the Arabs can live together as was demonstrated in Jerusalem for the past eight years. But, he said, if Israel had to defend herself, she would.
A RALLY FOR ALL AMERICANS
Mayor Abraham Beame of New York, expressed similar sentiments, declaring that people of this city supported Israel in her desire to achieve peace. He said it is possible for the Arab states and Israel to live together, but if Israel is attacked and has to fight back “we in New York City will continue to give our support that Israel may live.” One of the participants summed the significance of the parade up when he said, “It is really a rally to get all Americans behind Israel.”
Other speakers included Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, United Nations Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, and Israel Consul General in New York, David Rivlin. Beame and Kollek marched side by side at the front of the parade flanked by New York City area Congressmen, city and state officials. Most of the marchers were high school students from Jewish schools and youth organizations as well as marching bands from public high schools and Catholic parochial high schools. There were also participants from various Jewish police organizations as well as a bagpipe band from the Emerald Society of the New York Transit Police.
Many of the marchers sang Hebrew songs and wore colorful costumes. There were many imaginative floats. The Board of Jewish Education float’s theme was from Leviticus; “And teach the child of Israel.” One group dressed in Hasidic garb stressed, “One Torah, One Nation.” There was a giant shofer on one float whose sound reverberated through the area. One float showed religious Jews at the Western Wall.
FLOATS STRESS ALIYA, SOVIET JEWS
Many of the floats and banners carried anti-Arab themes. One float denouncing the United Nations had the words: “Today the oil, tomorrow the world.” Another group carried giant gas station gasoline tanks, the ones at the front reading “67.9″ and the back “31.9.” These referred to the steep price increase in gasoline.
Many of the floats stressed aliya, and along the route there were many signs posted saying, “What are you doing here, come to Israel.” The plight of Soviet Jewry was also stressed, and one float carried a mock Soviet labor camp. One of the persons on the float was Mrs. Dina Podrfachik, a member of the Habimah. Theater in Israel who has been trying to get her son, Yuri, out of the Soviet Union for four years.
Governors Hugh Carey of New York, Brendan Byrne of New Jersey and Ella Grasso of Connecticut all had issued proclamations declaring today as “Salute to Israel-Parade for Peace Day” in their states.
Rep. Bella Abzug (D.NY), who participated in the “Salute to Israel” parade and was also a marshall in a rally celebrating the end of the war in Vietnam, which was being held at the same time in Central Park, told the JTA that “peace is not selective. The American people will support such democracies as Israel but not dictatorships as was in Vietnam.”
About a dozen supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization who tried to organize a counter-parade nearby on Madison Avenue, gave up when no one else turned up.