Protests on my way to New York parade

By Alex P. Vidal

“Say what you want but you never say it with violence!”—Gerard Way

ON my way to the Philippine Consulate General New York on 46th Street and Fifth Avenue from the 59th Street and Fifth Avenue June 2 morning, I was blocked by the New York Police Department (NYPD) while attempting to enter from The Plaza area to the right side.

“No entry. The road is closed for the (Jewish) parade,” declared one of the NYPD cops stationed in the area.

I went straight to the Madison Avenue, where the 126th Philippine Independence Day parade was scheduled to start on the 38 Street at 12 noontime.

Madison Avenue was also partly closed but people could use the sidewalk on the east side. As I walked down to the 46th Street, I passed by a group of some 80 placard-bearing fringe Orthodox Jews.

Some of the placards screamed: “Authentic Rabbis always opposed Zionism and the State of Israel”, “The State of Israel and its actions are not solution, but main causes for anti-semitism”, “Support to ‘Israel’ is not supporting Jews or Judaism”, “The Reality…The Zionists Ignited the Fire Both Now and in the Past”, ”Torah Demands All Palestine be returned to Palestine Sovereignty”, “Jews Worldwide Condemn Unending Israel Brutality”, “Jews Worldwide mourn 76 years Existence of ‘Israel’ A rebellion against the Almighty and a disaster for humanity.”

(This sect criticizes or opposes Zionism maintaining that Israel can only be regained miraculously. They view the present state as a blasphemous human attempt to usurp God’s role, and many seek to dismantle the secular State of Israel. However, unlike many gentile anti­-Zionists, Jewish anti-Zionists usually firmly believe in the Jewish right to the Land of Israel, but only at the future time of redemption. The best-known group of the Jewish religious anti-­Zionists is the Neturei Karta. Two common religious grounds are typically given for anti-­Zionism. One is that today’s Zionism is a secular Zionism, packed with non-Jewish influences, and lacking key features like Mashiach and the rebuilt Temple,)

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I learned the placard-toting individuals weren’t the main “stars” that morning. As I walked going to the Philippine Consulate General, a horde of civilians believed to be members of the New York Jewish community arrived from different directions.

They carried Israel flags and worn t-shirts demanding the “return of Israel nationals kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023.”

They were march participants chanting for the release of hostages in Gaza at a big parade for Israel that drew thousands of people under heightened security.

The parade came almost eight months after the unprecedented Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, the deadliest in Israel’s history. The annual parade in the past was dubbed “Celebrate Israel,” but organizers wanted the exuberant atmosphere toned down June 2 given the war and hostages still being held in captivity in Gaza, as well as outbursts of antisemitism worldwide.

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The marchers chanted “Bring them home now!” and waved Israeli flags as they marched along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan for what this year is being called “Israel Day on Fifth.”

Crowds of spectators and hundreds of NYPD officers lined the route, and steel barricades were installed along the sidewalk.

“Especially this year, after Oct. 7, it’s especially important to have this show of unity,” said Rena Orman, a Bronx native who attended as part of Mothers Against College Antisemitism. “Everybody wants hostages back. Everyone wants this to end. No one is cheering for this. Everyone wants peace.”

The Jewish parade, on its 59th year, kicked off at about 11:30 a.m. or 30 minutes ahead of the 126th Philippine Independence Day Parade, and drew more than 40,000 participants, including Israeli dignitaries, New York elected officials, celebrities and some of the hostages’ families.

Western Slope Now reported that the Jewish parade represented the first large-scale Jewish event in the city since the war started, although there have been roughly 2,800 protests in the city, with about 1,300 of them related to the conflict.

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Israel is facing growing international criticism over its offensive in Gaza, at a huge cost in civilian lives. Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in the besieged territory have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat and Jewish, joined in the Philippine Independence Day parade, which was the 34th Annual Celebration in New York City.

This year’s parade had cultural shows, dances, and festivities featuring Kuyamis Festival Performances from Misamis Oriental, that showcased a part of the Philippines’ rich heritage.

It concluded in the Madison Square Park, where a Street Food Fair was held featuring Lechon Paradise (Patok by Rach and Lechon Bae) or Sisig ny Bayan (Krazy Chef’s) on 26th St. between Madison & Park Ave. Donuts and Chocolates (Messy Donuts and DC Chocolatier) and cold drinks (Sago’t Gulaman by So Sarap, Halo-Halo by Fritzie’s and drinks from Tiger Tai’s and Pinoy Coolers).

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)

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