Israelis & Americans march for democracy

This year’s “NYC Celebrates Israel Parade,” Sunday, June 4th, saw an unprecedented number of Israeli participants, many of whom were marching to save Israel’s democracy. For the first time in a dozen years, they were joined by Ameinu, the former Labor Zionist Alliance, with marchers wearing tee shirts that read in Hebrew, “Zionism = Democracy” on the front, and in English on the back, “Marching for Democracy.” Ameinu’s past absence was explained in an article in the New York Jewish Week and JTA:

“It was becoming harder to identify with the overall vibe of the march,” Kenneth Bob, the national president of the liberal organization, said about why the group stopped participating. “It didn’t reflect our more nuanced values about Israel. And because of restrictions on what we could put on our signs, it made it difficult for us to express our brand of Zionism.”

Ameinu was inspired to return to the parade following the organization’s success with the pro-democracy protests during April’s World Zionist Congress in Israel. These protests culminated with a march on Israel’s Supreme Court.

Nomi Colton-Max, Chair of Ameinu’s Executive Committee and Vice President, co-chaired the parade committee with Shany Granot-Lubaton, the US-based leader of the protest for Israel’s Democracy in New York City. Colton-Max said, ”We represent the majority of American Jewry. In light of the government of Israel’s stated intention to cripple Israel’s democracy and the fact that many anti-democratic, dangerous, and even racist members of the government were at the parade, Ameinu had to show that we love Israel while we vehemently oppose its current government.”

Granot-Lubaton added, “As an Israeli currently living in New York, this new Israeli-Jewish American community that has formed over the past months has become my home away from home. The entire world hears it loud and clear when thousands of people are holding Israeli flags, marching on Fifth Avenue, and calling for “DE-MO-CRA-TIA.”

Several VIPs joined Ameinu walking up Fifth Avenue from 57th to 74th Street including former Consul-General Asaf Zamir and his wife Maya Wertheimer, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

“Today was a huge success.  We had an unbelievable turnout, and we were well received by the parade organizers and the watchers.  We will continue to work within the mainstream Jewish community to bring about change while simultaneously calling the Jewish community to open their eyes about the situation in Israel,” Colton-Max concluded.

P.S. The Ameinu Parade co-chairs, Nomi Colton-Max and Shany Granot-Lubaton, co-authored this opinion article in Haaretz: “In New York, Israel’s Far-right Government Hands a Big Win to Its U.S. Jewish Opponents.