The June 1 op-ed, “Parade no place for lightning rods,” was an irresponsible and unfair assault on the Celebrate Israel parade, as well as on those pro-Israel organizations whose political orientation differs from the opinion writer’s. Instead of diminishing the parade as the author alleges, the participation of the entire spectrum of the Zionist and pro-Israel community will broaden its appeal and engender greater respect and support for Israel throughout the community.
Juda Englemayer would have us believe that in the good old days, every organization participating in the parade had Israel’s best interests at heart. Yet this year, we are told, there are some “who stand accused â€¦ of actively working to undermine Israel.” These are strong accusations that no one who claims to love Israel should ignore. But soon after making this statement he reminds his readers “It matters little whether the accusation is a false one. This is a case where perception counts more than reality.”
This is complete nonsense, if for no other reason than the fact that as a quick internet search will show, Englemayer has skillfully succeeded in placing this same op-ed in a variety of Jewish media serving the tristate area – the very catchment area of the parade to begin with. His smear campaign exists solely to create perception and alter reality. It does matter if the accusation of working to undermine Israel and supporting BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) is true or false. It is either true, and therefore incumbent upon the author to provide real evidence supporting such an important allegation, or false, in which case he had no right to suggest it in the first place. Had he done a little fact checking and not simply relied on JCC Watch, I suggest he might never had made those statements in the first place.
I am not a supporter of the New Israel Fund. I do not contribute to it, nor am I a member of either its board of officers or its rabbinic organization. However, as a rabbi who is concerned about how we in the pro-Israel community engage with those with differing viewpoints, I will defend NIF against the scurrilous charges of working with those who seek to encourage divestment from Israel, and remind the readers of the Jewish Standard that Englemayer’s charge was recently debunked by JTA. Similarly, his innuendo against John Ruskay of UJA Federation of New York was no less slanderous. Are his Zionist credentials suspect as well?
I share Englemayer’s concern for Israel’s future. I am truly grateful for his past service to the parade and for his efforts on behalf of Israel. But the Celebrate Israel parade must continue to welcome all who profess through word and deed a love for the State of Israel and the Zionist dream. There are forums to debate the best ways to support Israel. The parade should not be one of them.