How can American Jews show their love for the Jewish state? March in the centre of New York, of course. Back in 2009, I reported on the Salute to Israel event, with tens of thousands of young and old Jews singing, saluting, parading and waving Israeli and American flags in an orgy of Zionist love. It looked and felt desperate.
Yesterday I again attended the march here in New York (only around 30,000 people took part) and the overwhelming feeling was one of increased anger and defensiveness. Countless Jews shouted out against Hamas, 9/11, terrorism, suicide bombing and Islam, as if they’re all connected. In the small mind of pro-settler Jews, they are, and this shows the level of paranoia shown by so many Zionist Jews. It’s a “the whole world hates us and always will” mentality. Occupation and military and racial discrimination don’t exist in yesterday’s rally.
It reminded me of whites marching for apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and believing history was on the side of hating blacks. These days, it’s hard to find many South Africans who proudly say they backed the apartheid regime.
Yesterday I spent time in the roped-off protest area, where Jews and Palestinians stood bravely against the masses and peacefully demonstrated against the Israeli state. We were clearly out-numbered and even then the marchers hurled abuse at us. Are Zionists so insecure that any dissent is seen as an existential threat? I guess shooting largely unarmed demonstrators is something to be proud of.
If the mainstream people at the march yesterday are the future of Israeli support in the US, then anti-Zionists have been given a gift. Extremism and virulent Zionism is not embraced by growing numbers of global citizens and yet Orthodox Zionism and Christian fundamentalism are becoming the key drivers of pro-Israel sentiment here.
A day to both despair and celebrate.
UPDATE: Need more evidence that the mainstream political elite sees Israel not as a country, but a fundamentalist religion that can’t be challenged? A leading New York politician is damned for not appearing at yesterday’s Israel parade.