Statement On Sunday's 2008 Salute To Israel Protest
Adalah-NY Decries the Ugliness of Violence and Racism at "Salute to Israel Parade"
Members of Adalah-NY: The Coalition For Justice In the Middle East were shocked at the unprecedented levels of hatred and racism on display at the "Salute to Israel Parade" on Sunday, June 1st in Manhattan. Adalah-NY organized one of a number of contingents of protesters that converged on 5th Avenue between 58th and 59th streets.
We came to advocate for human rights and support the humanity of millions of Palestinians who have been made anonymous by military occupation. Across the street from us they held signs saying "Death to Islam,' "Arabs Out of Israel," and "Blow Up Arab Camels." This is not surprising, since the Israeli state that was being 'saluted' was founded 60 years ago upon the expulsion, and denial of the rights and even the existence of the Palestinian people.
Marchers in the parade itself threw obscene gestures and angrily shouted at Palestinian children present in the demonstration to "burn in hell," while the demonstrators stood silently. Members of an anti-Zionist group of Orthodox Jews were heckled and jeered as they left the protest and had food thrown at them.
We were, frankly, appalled at the ugliness we saw on Sunday, so we feel the need to make a public statement. Our call to action has always been based on respect for human rights regardless of religion or race, and our coalition is made up of Arabs, Israelis, Americans and people of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and other origins.
On top of the hatred we witnessed from supporters of Israel, we were also forced to confront a small group of individuals holding a separate demonstration within the same physical space as our protest. The group's signage and chants were racist and vitriolic in nature, and completely antithetical to Adalah-NY's message of equal justice and universal human rights. The police refused to place this group in a separate area, despite our repeated requests.
At least one supporter of the right-wing Jewish youth group Betar was detained by police after harassing protesters, as was another man who spit on a supporter of Palestinian rights.