A leading Manhattan rabbi, representing some of the largest Sephardic communities in New York City, on Wednesday threatened to pull his support from the annual Celebrate Israel Parade, on June 1, unless the parade organizers bar anti-Israel groups from participating this year.
In a letter seen by The Algemeiner, Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D., spiritual leader of four Manhattan Sephardic institutions, the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue, the Moise Safra Community Center, the Magen David Congregation of Manhattan and the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan, addressed his concerns to the leaders of New York’s Jewish Community Relations Council, the JCRC, which organizes the parade and has insisted in letters that it’s “open tent” policy is to encourage all Jewish groups to be involved.
In the letter, Rabbi Abadie said he raised the same concerns in an email to the JCRC two years ago about including in the parade any Jewish group that promotes any type of boycott, divestment or sanctions, BDS, of Israel:
“That email regarded the inclusion of BDS supporters in the Celebrate Israel Parade,” the rabbi wrote on Wednesday. “We had our meetings and I understood the difficulty of excluding them then. As things have progressed, the situation has worsened regarding these Jewish groups that support BDS.”
The rabbi wrote, “We must not condone their actions, let alone allow anti-Israel groups to march under the banner of a legitimate group Celebrating Israel. The only thing they will want to celebrate is the demise of the State of Israel.”
“As a friend and admirer of your selfless devotion and dedication to Israel and the Jewish People, I urge you to disqualify these groups from ever marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade. Nothing less is acceptable.”
While other individuals and Israel advocates have spoken up about certain groups participating in the parade, most vociferously, activist Richard Allen of JCC Watch, Rabbi Abadie is believed to be the first community leader to threaten to withdraw the support of major institutions, in this case, four of them. He also wields influence over other New York congregations that would normally participate in the parade.
In his letter on Wednesday, the rabbi said, “Unless and until you assure me that the BDS supporting groups will not be marching in the Parade, I will pull our support from marching and will not be renewing our contract for a float this year.”
“Furthermore, I will be urging every Rabbi and leader of every Sephardic organization (as well as many others) in our community including Yeshivah of Flatbush, Magen David Yeshiva, Hillel Yeshiva, Barkai Yeshiva, Gesher Yehuda and several others to pull their support from the Parade as well.”
In his letter, the rabbi wrote of the evidence of the anti-Israel credentials of the boycott supporting groups, and called them out by name:
“It has been proven by the distinguished Alan Dershowitz and many others who investigated these groups, which include the New Israel Fund, J Street and others, that many of these ‘Jewish groups’ are financed by anti-Semites, Anti-Israel and Jew haters,” the rabbi said. “Their sole mission is to delegitimize and demonize the State of Israel until its extinction.”