On Sunday June 5th, different groups of young American Jews opposed to the occupation both marched in and protested the 2017 NY Israel Parade. Read below and here for differing perspectives on being anti-occupation in Jewish mainstream spaces.
I’m disappointed by the people who boo and wave actual fists and call me and my fellows marchers Israel-haters as we march down Fifth Avenue. I’m disappointed that the organization that I volunteer with, J Street, is not allowed to officially march, because we are designated as a political group, but that other groups are allowed to carry banners promoting things like a united Jerusalem, which is no less a political position than the one that J Street takes in promoting two states (which, of course, is the official position of the Israeli government). Each year that I march, the disappointment wears me down just a little bit more.
And yet I continue to march. Because I know that the parade is a bit kitschy. And I know that it’s not entirely inclusive of everyone in the Jewish community. I know that not everyone else who marches and spectates appreciates my presence. But regardless of all that, I march because, at the end of the day, I love the Celebrate Israel Parade.
For the past several years, I have marched with the Progressive Cluster, and for each of those years, I have been happy and disappointed, excited and dismayed, energized and emotionally drained. Each year, I am all of those things at once.
And yet, each year, the good outweighs the bad. For all of the negatives, I have never once marched begrudgingly, or out of a sense of obligation, or because I want to in some way “stick it to the man” (by which I mean the New York Jewish establishment, of course). The reason I have always marched, and will continue to march, is simple. I do it because I love Israel, because I want to share that love with my community, and because I know that my community actually can do a better job of making me feel included.
And until then, I will take the disappointments as they come, because I know that my love for Israel may be complicated, but it’s also true and deep and everlasting. And I look forward to the day when the entire community understands that to be true.
[Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly said signs supporting a two-state solution weren’t allowed in the Celebrate Israel Parade. Signs supporting a two-state solution are allowed; all signs must be approved by the parade organizers.]