Monday, June 3, 2013


By Schmoel Yitzhak

As a nine-year-old, growing up on the Bedford-Stuyvesant-Williamsburg border in Brooklyn, I learned what it meant to fear being a Jew.

Five days a week I walked from our house the four blocks to the New Hebrew School on Stockton Street near Tompkins Avenue. Hustling along the long block on Stockton, from Marcy Avenue to Tompkins was -- to a Jewish kid -- like going from No Man's Land into enemy territory. 

The enemy -- in case you haven't guessed yet -- comprised the goyim. Mind you, not every Christian but enough non-Jews who at any given time might get the notion to beat us up or perpetrate some anti-Semitic act that made worry in that five-minute sequence part of our daily lives.

Or, to put it another way, it wasn't always kosher to be a Jew on Stockton Street in 1941. Myself and my buddies never forgot the fear. 

That thought came to mind on Sunday afternoon as I stood, waving my Israeli flag for two hours as float after float rolled by during New York's annual Israeli Day parade.

Looking South from my vantage point at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue, I viewed a gorgeous sea of blue and white, hundreds and hundreds of Israeli flags being borne by youngsters who barely could carry one to elderly Jews -- some courageously plying the mile route with walkers canes. Few moments in my life have been more heartening.

I wept as I listened to stirring renditions of Am Yisroel Chai and wept some more as pictures of Israeli icons such as David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir were carried by the marchers. Yes, I even cried when the Mogen David ambulance contingent arrived at my corner. How could I not think of all the Jewish lives saved and all the wounded treated during the vicious, Jew-hating Arabintifadas.

From time to time, I realized that I also was crying for joy, secure in the knowledge that so many thousands of Americans -- not all Jews, mind you -- had turned out to pay homage to the only true democracy in the Middle East.

If visual messages were delivered by the parade, there were many and some immediately come to mind:

1. To those mindless, anti-Semitic BDS characters, it is that all their fallacious arguments against Israel drip with hypocrisy and that we will fight back with the facts that destroy their insidious propaganda.

2. That there's a vibrant, young core of American Jews who will stand up -- march, if you will -- and be counted and who'll carry on the pro-Israel work that has made parades like Sunday's possible.

3. We will unabashedly, carry the Star of David, stand up and be counted, never to be intimidated by those who would destroy Israel.

I could see it in the faces; the absolutely unequivocal joy in being a Jew and displaying that fervor for Israel.

For another important thing, the parade embodied the diversity of Israeli fabric that included groups to which I philosophically object -- a Peace Now contingent, to name one -- but which were welcomed nonetheless. The reason for that is obvious to me but blind to the BDS bums;  if there's any country in the world that embodies the true spirit of democracy, Israel is it.

Perhaps most pleasing of all to Your's Truly was the sight of a rather large contingent of Christians who firmly and zealously back The Jewish State.

Not only was I surprised -- and gratified -- by the vast number of Christians in Support of Israel in that parade bloc but their fervor as well. Over and over again, they shouted what their banners proclaimed: WE'RE FOR ISRAEL!

It's no secret that there are elements in the Christian society that will bash Israel at every opportunity; but it's refreshing to know that many of the goyim understand and appreciate the democratic Israeli values and are willing to make their voices heard. 

Equally important were the overall messages repeatedly delivered to those who would challenge Israel -- militarily, philosophically or with boycotts. 

We will fight back. We will not be intimidated.

No, it's not Stockton Street, 1941 anymore!

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