I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be at the Queens Museum for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the U.N. vote to establish the State of Israel on November 29, 1947. I did not receive an invitation but was able to obtain an invitation.
I have been to other reenactments, but this one in Queens County was special.
Vice President Mike Pence along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were present to represent the administration. The administration must be commended by having such high-level persons representing them at this event. It indicated how important this anniversary was.
The vice president looked and spoke how I was taught a vice president should act. He was modest, only mentioning himself once to mention that his family will be traveling to Israel. He also touted the president. The vice president said the right things and did not engage in any partisan attacks.
The no-show by many is a symptom of a larger problem –
of the community’s apathy for events concerning Israel
It was a breath of fresh air in this political climate. The audience also treated him with respect that should be accorded a vice president. When it was announced that he was walking into the hall, people stood up in unison without being asked to do so.
During the program, they played the film showing the vote in 1947. It is amazing to think that in the middle of the Cold War the United States and the USSR (Russia) were on the same side of an issue.
However, it was disappointing that the place was not filled. In my section, which was toward the back, it was mostly empty. The organizers had requested that anyone who was provided a seat but was unable to attend to please inform them, so they could give the seat to others. It appears that this request was not heeded. I hope that those in the administration did not notice the empty seats.
Also, there was an absence of certain community or organization leaders who I would have expected to be there. The importance of the anniversary should have been good enough reason to attend. The appearance of the vice president and the treasury secretary should have been a good enough reason to attend. The combination of both makes it a slam-dunk to be there. I would hope that politics was not the reason for the no-shows.
The event almost did not occur due to the vote of the Queens Museum in August to cancel it. Pressure was brought on the museum to rescind their action. It was good that the Queens Museum was convinced to rescind their decision. However, that does not excuse a person for failing to attend the event. If anything, it makes one appear hypocritical.
The no-show by many is a symptom of a larger problem – of the community’s apathy for events concerning Israel. Some people ask why there aren’t many rallies against BDS and other actions against Israel. The reason is that when there are such rallies, few people show up. It is worse to call a rally and have no one show up than it is to not do it at all. If you do not call one, the argument can be made that you want to do it quietly through back channel discussions or correspondence and that is why a rally is not held. If the rally is held and few show up, the message that resonates is that the Jewish community does not care.
We need to galvanize the community. The community leaders need to set the example. If the leaders are not proactive it is not reasonable to expect the grassroots to act.
Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org