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Some 550,000 Marchers and Spectators in Annual Salute to Israel Parade

Under brilliant spring skies, an estimated half million spectators watched and more than 50,000 people marched in the 21st annual Salute to Israel Parade today, marking the 37th anniversary of the independence of the Jewish State.

The parade, organized and sponsored by the American Zionist Youth Foundation, began at noon. From then until after 4 p.m. scores of marching bands, colorfully decorated floats and cadres of youths, men and women of all ages and all walks of life, trooped along sunny Fifth Avenue from 59th to 86th streets. The songs they sang and the multicolored banners they carried emphasized this year’s parade theme: “Builders of Zion, Builders of Israel.”

The reviewing stand, set up at 59th Street, near the southeast entrance to Central Park, was packed with city, state and national dignitaries, Israel’s ranking diplomats and a visiting Cabinet Minister from Jerusalem.

Speaking for the Administration, Secretary of Interior Donald Hodel expressed America’s deep commitment to Israel’s security and well being. He emphasized Israel’s strategic importance to the U.S. and vowed continued American support for Israel.

Many of the speakers on the reviewing stand referred to the Holocaust, the remembrance of which takes on special significance this month as the 40th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of the death camps approaches.

Mayor Edward Koch of New York, declared, “We will never, never forget what the Nazis did to the Jewish people.” He observed that had Israel existed then as a sovereign independent state, the Holocaust would not have taken place.

Sen. Joseph Biden (D. Del.), who spoke briefly from the reviewing stand, declared that today’s Salute to Israel Parade “is the answer to Bitburg.” He was referring to the German war cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany where, to the anguish of Jews and non-Jews, President Reagan will lay a wreath next month at the graves of German soldiers who fought in World War II, including members of the notorious Waffen SS.

Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R. N.Y.), also stressed America’s support for Israel, declaring that the Salute to Israel Parade is a salute to all the values which Americans stand for.

Gad Yaacobi, Israel’s Minister of Economics and Planning, who was the guest of honor at the parade, said the event was a tribute to the friendship of Israel and the U.S. and the friendship of the Jewish people for Israel. “We are one,” he declared. He promised that Israel would overcome its current economic difficulties with the help of American Jews. Israel, he said, will insure that no Holocaust will ever occur again.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Meir Rosenne, said the strategic and military cooperation between Israel and the U.S. was never stronger. He asserted that the parade is a symbol of the solidarity between Israel and the U.S.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, called on Mayor Koch to let next year’s Salute to Israel Parade march along First Avenue. He said it would be appropriate for the parade to pass by the headquarters of the UN, located on First Avenue.

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