Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ban BDS Groups From Celebrate Israel Parade!

Dear Hindy,

As you must already know, there has been an overwhelming positive reaction to the letter I sent to you and Michael Miller last week regarding your admittance of the NIF and other BDS supporting organizations to the Celebrate Israel Parade.  
My letter’s statements and requests to disinvite these organizations to the Parade have garnered hundreds of very positive and supportive letters from all around the world. Additionally, the public’s online comment threads to the resulting in the Israel News Agency coverage, Algemeiner article, Matzav article, and other publications clearly demonstrate not only to me, but should also demonstrate to you, Michael Miller and the rest of the Board and staff of the JCRC and the UJA that there is a preponderance of evidence and support that BDS supporting groups should not be permitted to march in the Celebrate Israel Parade. 

As per my telephone conversation with you the morning after I sent you my original letter, I spoke with the specifically requested Israeli government official that you felt should be made aware of the impending situation. He stated to me that he was not aware, nor did the JCRC ever inform him that the NIF was going to march in the parade.  He then went on to state that he would like to investigate the situation further and will inform the JCRC whether he will march with his delegation or not.  I am confident that based on his own investigation, he will make the correct decision, for which I will wholeheartedly support. 

In your response email to me last week after I sent you my original letter, you mentioned that you would be setting up a meeting with John Ruskay and others; I have yet to receive any additional information about this meeting.

Your telephone conversation with me on the morning after I sent you and Michael Miller my original letter included several issues, which I would like to list here, as well as to reiterate my own position.  
I will assume you were speaking on behalf of the JCRC and the UJA.  As you know, I was speaking 
on behalf of the four major Sephardic institutions here in NYC.  I also informed you that I would be communicating with several major Jewish institutions for which I have a large presence in and around NYC and beyond.  As you might expect, I have already begun to do so.

1. You commented that as a Jewish Community, we need to have a “big tent” and include many 
groups for which we don’t necessarily agree with their position on every issue regarding Israel.
My position: I would have no problem including groups that we don’t agree with, as long as they only voice their opinion - without taking action - at imposing their opinion on society. However, the moment a group takes action, especially an action that hurts the Jewish People and the State of Israel while consorting with the enemies of Israel, they forfeit their right to be a part of the peaceful “big tent”. The groups has decidedly excluded themselves from such a privilege. Their opinion on the Peace Process or the size of Israel is their right to have. However, the moment any group uses their 
actions to boycott Israel in order to force their opinion, that is what is completely unacceptable, 
immoral and unethical. 
Why is it unacceptable, immoral and unethical?  Because their support of BDS against Israel and its citizens is inflicting tremendous damage on the people of Israel’s livelihood, lives and welfare. The BDS’s mission is to destroy a person, a family, a village, a town and even an entire country, only to make the world know their opinion.  Only the enemies of Israel can support such a movement. 
How can we, as true supporters and lovers of the State of Israel, allow groups that seek to destroy Israel’s wellbeing, the honor of marching together with Israel's most ardent supporters? Either they are friends of Israel or they are not. These groups can no longer act as the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing. We need not be apologetic about what we stand for. 

As a Rabbi, I have sometimes been asked, why is it that the pig has become the iconic representative of a non-kosher animal, when a camel, a rabbit and a hare are also not kosher? The answer is that 
since the pig is the only one that has a split hoof yet doesn’t chew its cud, he is outwardly trying to 
mislead people into believing that he is kosher - yet deep inside, he is not. This behavior is analogous to how the BDS supporting groups are acting.  It is time to remove their disguise.
2. Your comments conveyed your defense of some groups that differentiate between boycotting products from "Israel proper” and boycotting products of the “Settlements” in Judea and Samaria.  

This is incongruous. Since when do we have the moral and ethical right to hurt any Jew, regardless of his place of residence? If I am to understand your comments correctly, you are of the position that if we as Jews like where a person lives, then we can help him.  However, if we don’t, then we not only refuse to help him but we try to injure him? Really?
My position: There has not been any historical precedent of Jews denying help to any other Jew, no matter where that Jew lives. Didn't we come to the rescue of the Jews of the Former Soviet Union? 
What about of Ethiopia, Iran and Syria? We are even now coming to the rescue of the Jews of the Ukraine. Does it really make a difference where a Jew lives in order to be responsible for him? We Jews are responsible for each other no matter where that Jew lives, whether it is in prison or on the Moon. To make that differentiation is tantamount to deciding who will live and who will die.  We are not G-d, and therefore we cannot make those decisions. Throughout history, this has been done to us by our enemies and not so long ago, during the Holocaust. 

3. Your comments conveyed that I am boycotting the Celebrate Israel Parade.
My position: This is simply not true. I want to clarify that I am not boycotting the Parade. I want to make it clear that I am abstaining as to whether or not to march with my institutions until the BDS supporting groups are not permitted to march in the Celebrate Israel Parade.  Boycotting has a negative terminology. These BDS supporting groups are boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel because they do not support Israel; they are hurting Israel and its population, and they are destroying the lives of innocent Jews living in Israel and their livelihoods. These actions could potentially have a negative ripple effect on Jews from around the world.  I, on the other hand, support the Parade wholeheartedly and want our institutions to march.  My abstention is not hurting anyone and it is not destroying any lives. I am abstaining for now, until my requests are heard and a correct, moral and ethical action is taken by the JCRC.
Lastly, I am attaching two yet unpublished research documents from October 2013, which reveal unequivocally the activities of the NIF.  Its support of groups like B’Tselem, American for Peace Now, Meretz USA, and others that are acting against the welfare of the State of Israel is very clear.  They are helping our enemies seek the destruction of Israel.  If it was up to them, soon there will be nothing for your parade to “Celebrate”.
It may seem to you that I am causing a division amongst the participants in the Parade and creating some discord.  However, it is completely the opposite. I am trying to unite all of the people that support and Celebrate Israel. On the other hand, the BDS supporting groups, which you have invited to march in the parade, are trying to divide and discriminate against their fellow Jews because of their place of living or political views. They are the ones who are sowing divisiveness.

Hindy, I reiterate what I wrote in my last letter - as a friend and admirer of yours and Michael Miller’s 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. 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.
I hope this unfortunate issue will be resolved quickly, thereby clearing a path so we can march with pride and support, and really Celebrate Israel.
Elie Abadie
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.
Edmond J. Safra Synagogue
11 East 63rd Street
New York, NY 10065
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