Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

There are many problems that are out there that need solutions. Like most problems, the problem is easier to diagnose than it is to find a solution. Therefore, when there are problems people like to search for easy solutions, and part of the solution is putting the blame on one group.

It is undisputable that the support of Israel has decreased in the United States in general as well as in many Jewish communities. An easy target is the Neturei Karta, who come out to the parade to protest the existence of the State of Israel, with some of them even joining the non-Jewish anti-Israel protesters. They are nothing more than a sideshow, and to dwell on them is a mistake since it takes our eye off the major issue.

This year I marched with one of the first groups at the Celebrate Israel Parade. There was not even a minyan of the Neturei Karta who were protesting. In contrast, during the four hours that I was there one group after another joyously marched. The few Neturei Karta were equal to the smallest group in the parade.

Much of anti-Israel sentiment is merely a disguise for anti-Semitism from those on the left and on the right. Neturei Karta in their shtreimels, kapotas, and beards are the stereotypical Jew for the anti-Semites. Thus, it is unreasonable to believe that their anti-Israel beliefs are influencing that crowd.

Another hotbed of anti-Israel activity is on college campuses. I doubt that the anti-college Neturei Karta are influencing college students.

There are many progressives who support BDS and other anti-Israel positions. Besides their opinions about the State of Israel there is not much else that a progressive and a member of Neturei Karta can agree upon. It is unrealistic to think that Neturei Karta has any effect on the progressives.

Instead of wasting our time worrying about Neturei Karta we must address the real problem. One of the biggest problems is that the younger the Jews are the weaker their connection to Israel is and the less supportive they are.

For years I looked at the parade and lamented how few spectators there are. I also regret that portions of the frum community are a no-show at the event. Although I wish that both would change, I have come to realize that the most important part of the parade is for the marchers. By preparing for the march and marching with many other pro-Israel groups they are getting a positive message of the importance of the State of Israel. Groups come from places that are hours away, such as from Pennsylvania. The groups include those on all sides of the political spectrum. There are over a hundred groups marching. This is one day when a large segment of the Jewish community joins together. How can one not be affected by being part of such an event?

It is especially important for groups such as college Hillels or Reform and Conservative Jewish groups where there is an increased erosion of support to participate. They need extra strength to stand tall against the tide in many universities.

The parade is also televised. People who are watching see one group after another marching for Israel. This also builds up support for Israel.

To appreciate the enormity of the parade, one can contrast it with the largest Memorial Day parade in New York that lasts two hours. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which is the most famous parade in the country, lasts for three hours. The Celebrate Israel Parade lasts almost five hours.

Kudos to the Jewish Community Relations Council for continuing the tradition of the Celebrate Israel Parade. When I see all those young people marching it gives me hope that despite our fears the Jewish community will continue its strong support for Israel. In other words, being part of this parade will help stem the tide of younger Jews turning away from Israel.


Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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