Turning Israel Day Parade Into Right-Wing Echo Chamber Rolling Down Fifth Ave.

First Gays Were Outcasts — Now Progressive Zionists Purged

Shrinking the Tent: The Israel Day Parade has had a powerful impact over the years because of its diversity and wide appeal. Now, a group of right-wing ideologues want to bar perceived dissenters, like progressive Zionists.
getty images
Shrinking the Tent: The Israel Day Parade has had a powerful impact over the years because of its diversity and wide appeal. Now, a group of right-wing ideologues want to bar perceived dissenters, like progressive Zionists.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published May 29, 2014, issue of June 06, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Here’s a brain-teaser: If Mordechai Anielewicz, commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, had survived the war and ended up in New York, could he march in the Israel Day Parade?

Answer: Not if certain self-appointed guardians of Zionist purity had a say. Anielewicz led the Warsaw chapter of Hashomer Hatzair, the socialist-Zionist youth movement that spearheaded the ghetto’s Jewish Fighters Organization. Had he landed in America, he surely would have plunged back into his movement, as other ghetto fighters did, and gone on to lead its parent organization, known today as Partners for Progressive Israel.

Partners for Progressive Israel, it so happens, is one of three organizations our watchdogs tried to ban from the June 1 parade. The other two are the New Israel Fund, which finances various social justice causes in Israel, and B’Tselem, Israel’s main human-rights monitor. B’Tselem wasn’t actually planning on marching in the parade this year, but these watchdogs aren’t very good with facts.

In a way it’s the latest chapter in an ongoing fight to purge the Jewish community of dissenters and undesirables. For several years Orthodox groups fought to prevent gay Jewish groups from the parade. Now it’s conservatives against liberals.

The rap against the three suspect organizations is that they support BDS, the international campaign to isolate Israel through boycotts, divestment and sanctions. It’s not true, but as I said, go argue.

For starters, consider Partners for Progressive Israel. Originally known as Americans for Progressive Israel, it was formed after World War II as the American affiliate of the Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party in pre-state Israel. Hashomer Hatzair itself began in Austro-Hungary in 1916, established its first kibbutz at Beit Alfa in 1922 and helped create the Palmach, the elite strike force of the Haganah, in 1941. After independence it joined with another labor faction to form Mapam, which became Israel’s second-largest party.

The American branch was never large, but it’s played an outsize role in the broader Zionist movement. Among other things, it helped launch New York’s Israel Day parade in 1964. In 1997 it took the name Meretz USA, following its Israeli arm. In 2011 it changed again, since nobody here knew what Meretz was. Now it’s Partners. Basically, though, it’s still Hashomer Hatzair.

In short, this movement is one of Israel’s founding institutions. So how did it become Public Enemy No. 1?

There are two ways to answer that. One is to describe the sequence of events. The other is to step back and look at the larger picture.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.