Thou­sands cel­e­brate Is­rael in New York de­spite heavy rain

Gov. An­drew Cuomo signs order for state agen­cies to di­vest from pro-BDS com­pa­nies

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By DANIELLE ZIRI Jerusalem Post cor­re­spon­dent

NEW YORK – Thou­sands of peo­ple armed with plas­tic pon­chos and um­brel­las gath­ered along Fifth Av­enue to defy the heavy rain and watch the 52nd Cel­e­brate Is­rael Pa­rade on Sun­day, New York­ers’ an­nual trib­ute to the Jewish state.

“Our sup­port for Is­rael doesn’t stop for the rain,” 18-year-old Al­li­son Abra­hams said as she marched hold­ing a “NY loves Is­rael” sign.

Just hours be­fore the pa­rade, New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo signed ex­ec­u­tive order 157, which or­ders all state agen­cies to di­vest from busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions that sup­port the Boycott, Di­vest and Sanc­tions move­ment.

A list of such busi­nesses will be com­piled and is­sued to state agen­cies over the next months.

“New York stands in sol­i­dar­ity with Is­rael to­day and al­ways,” Cuomo said. “This state will not stand for the pol­i­tics of dis­crim­i­na­tion in any form, and we will con­tinue to demon­strate our un­wa­ver­ing sup­port for the peo­ple of Is­rael in the fight for free­dom, lib­erty and democ­racy.”

Cuomo said he was proud to sign the ex­ec­u­tive order, which is the first one of the kind signed in the US.

“New York and Is­rael share an unbreakable bond and I pray that the Is­raeli and Pales­tinian peo­ple will find a way to live side by side and find peace, pros­per­ity and security,” he said.

Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Danny Danon, who held the largest anti-BDS gath­er­ing to date last week, wel­comed the governor’s an­nounce­ment and said it was “an­other ef­fec­tive strike against those seek­ing to harm Is­rael.”

The Cel­e­brate Is­rael Pa­rade in­cluded tens of thou­sands of marchers from more than 250 Jewish and pro-Is­rael or­ga­ni­za­tions, floats, march­ing bands and per­form­ers such as the cast of the Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Fid­dler on the Roof and the Yeshiva Univer­sity-based a cap­pella group The Mac­cabeats.

This year’s march, held un­der the theme “Is­rael: Sight, Sound and Spirit!” in­cluded the par­tic­i­pa­tion of of­fi­cials such as Cuomo, New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio and New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, as well as Is­raeli rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­clud­ing Con­sul-Gen­eral in New York Ido Aha­roni and sev­eral mem­bers of Knes­set. The 102-story Em­pire State Build­ing was lit in blue and white for the oc­ca­sion.

Rivky Jodlo, who came to watch the pa­rade with her young daugh­ter, told The Jerusalem Post that it was im­por­tant for her to come to Fifth Av­enue de­spite the bad weather.

“It’s im­por­tant to come here to as­sert our right to live in the land, to have a state, to be Jews,” she ex­plained.

“Thirty years ago I was in Jerusalem and there was a march for Jerusalem Day,” Jodlo re­called. “I was con­cerned be­cause there were a lot of stabbings and bad things at that time, and when I showed up I found a whole group of peo­ple in wheel­chairs rolling them­selves through the cob­ble­stones of Jerusalem, so if they can do that, I can cer­tainly stand in the rain.”

For the first time, the pa­rade also marked In­ter­na­tional Unity Day, which was cre­ated in mem­ory of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naf­tali Fraenkel, the three Is­raeli teenagers whom Ha­mas kid­napped and mur­dered in Judea in June 2014. Four of their par­ents marched on Fifth Av­enue on Sun­day. Unity Day, spon­sored by the UJA-Fed­er­a­tion of New York and the Gesher or­ga­ni­za­tion, aims to pro­mote global Jewish unity and peo­ple­hood.

The New York Po­lice Depart­ment de­ployed hun­dreds of po­lice­men, in­clud­ing Counter-Ter­ror­ism, emer­gency ser­vice and K9 of­fi­cers, to se­cure the event.

(Shi­mon Mercer Wood)

CEL­E­BRANTS MARCH in the Cel­e­brate Is­rael Pa­rade on Fifth Av­enue in Man­hat­tan yes­ter­day, along­side Cen­tral Park.

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