New York (Jun. 14)
Despite overcast skies, thousands of viewers lined Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to see an estimated 75,000 marchers in the 17th annual Salute to Israel parade today.
The marchers, organized in groups above the age of 10 through college age, representing 90 schools and 20 youth organizations, enthusiastically marched the 30-block distance, singing Israeli songs, dancing Israeli folk dances and chanting slogans based on this year’s theme, “Ani Maamin” (I Believe). Marching bands from as far away as West Virginia and Baltimore took part in the parade alongside many groups representing Jewish organizations throughout the metropolitan area. Many organizations and business firms had colorful and elaborate floats, among them Zim Lines, Bank Leumi, Hadassah, National Council of Young Israel, Yeshiva University, day schools and yeshivas and many others.
Jacob Stein, newly-appointed advisor to President Reagan, read a message from the reviewing stand to the throng from President Reagan, stressing the United States’ commitment to the security of Israel, and that his Administration regarded Israel as a symbol of democracy. The message reaffirmed the Reagan Administration’s commitment to Israel’s security.
Israeli Ambassador Ephraim Evron brought a message from Premier Menachem Begin in which Begin reiterated his justification of Israel’s aerial attack last Sunday on the Iraqi nuclear reactor outside Baghdad. He repeated his earlier contention that the most reliable sources indicated that Iraq was seeking to build an atomic bomb which it said openly was intended for use against Israel. In the message, Begin expressed his gratitude to the Israel Air Force whose members performed the mission with outstanding skill and success. He also reiterated that Israel was assured that the reactor was to go on line in the beginning of July or September and that Israel could not accept responsibility for an attack at that time because it would have released deadly radioactive material that might have costs thousands of lives in Baghdad.
Mayor Edward Koch of New York attacked the United Nations, calling its anti-Israel members “hypocrites,” He said the UN did not condemn the Iraqi attack on Iran which is still going on. He called the President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, a “certified madman” and said the Israelis should be “praised and not condemned” for the attack on the reactor.
Yehuda Blum, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, told the crowd that the current Security Council Session on the air raid has had an overtone of “cynicism and bigotry” but added that he was “gratified at the sympathy reflected throughout this country” for Israel.
The parade, as in the past, was sponsored by the American Zionist Youth Organization. More than 100 national and local Jewish organizations provided support for all aspects of the annual event.