May 11, 2008

Protestors Clash Outside Yom Haatzmaut Celebration at Radio City Music Hall

As Jews around the world celebrated the 60th anniversary of the birth of Israel as a modern state, the annual Yom Ha'Atzmaout festivities in New York took place amidst a backdrop of controversy and protest outside of Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday evening May 7th.

At a gala, star studded musical event sponsored by the UJA-Federation, thousands filed into the landmark edifice to hear a historic mix of all star Jewish music talent and pay tribute to the Establishment of the Jewish State and it's fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

The performers included Israeli music stars David Broza, Idan Raichel, Rami Kleinstein, Habanot Nechama and Yael Naim as well American born Hasidic reggae phenomenon Matisyahu, "Late Show With David Letterman" bandleader Paul Shaffer and a recent MacArthur Genius Award winner John Zorn.

But outside the hall, a vitriolic cadre of about 75 anti-Israel protestors staged a boisterous demonstration chanting such slogans as "From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free" and "Not a Nickel, Not a Dime, No more Money for Israel's Crimes."

An organization called "Palestinian Action - Union Square East" sponsored the protest along with members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, an anachronistic Maoist organization who saw its heyday back in the 1960s as an agitating force behind the Vietnam war protest movement.

The protestors excoriated both Israel and the United States for their ostensible "oppression" of the Palestinian people.

They drew parallels between the plight of the Palestinian people to the "racist" verdicts in the Sean Bell case in which several New York City detectives were exonerated of the shooting in April.

"We are calling for the absolute right of return of the Palestinian people to their homeland", said Myka Abramson, 23, a protestor representing the Palestinian cause.

Abramson, who identified herself as Jewish added that, "a two state solution to the Middle East conflict is not acceptable. We are rallying our forces to demand a one state solution, a secular democracy in which the Palestinians are masters of their own fate."

None of the protestors addressed the issue of incessant rocket attacks launched against southern Israel by Hamas in Gaza, but rather chided the IDF for committing "genocide" against Palestinians living in Gaza.

Another demonstrator who was selling copies of the Revolutionary Communist Party newspaper, formerly titled "The Revolutionary Worker," said that "from Harlem to Palestine to Haiti we call for a revolutionary struggle for freedom for all oppressed peoples and we call for an end to the Israeli apartheid regime."

The Palestinian contingent was also joined by 15 members of the notoriously anti-Zionist movement, "Neturei Karta" whose members held signs calling for the "Peaceful Dismantlement of Israel" and claimed that "Jews in Exile are Forbidden to Have Their Own State".

As the protestors spewed forth their vituperative railing and overt canards against Israel and the United States, directly across the street, however, members of "Stand With Us" a pro-Israel campus organization gathered.

Although greatly outnumbered by the anti-Israel protestors, the members of Stand With Us proudly hoisted an Israeli flag and held signs saying, "Stop the Hamas Terror" and "End the Hamas Bloody Occupation of Gaza".

Coretta James a member of Christians United for Israel joined the members of Stand With Us to express her unwavering support for Israel, stating that "Israel is the only viable democracy in the Middle East and a loyal ally of the United States", she said.

James, alluded to God's blessing to Abraham in the Bible, said that "those who curse the Jewish people and Israel will be cursed and conversely those who bless the Jewish people and the Land of Israel will be blessed by G-d. That is why I am here today."

Another pro-Israel demonstrator said, "the fact that Israel is celebrating its 60th year since its formation is testimony to the fact that the G-d of Israel continually provides protection and succor to His people. . . . it is nothing short of a divine miracle."