newsU.S.-Israel Relations

Jewish New Yorkers, police brace for pro-Hamas protests at Israel parade

Only 20% of recent past attendees plan on marching this year.

Marchers head up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade, June 4, 2023. Photo by Ryan Rahman/Shutterstock.
Marchers head up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade, June 4, 2023. Photo by Ryan Rahman/Shutterstock.

The New York City Police Department announced it will be doubling its normal presence on Sunday’s annual “Celebrate Israel Parade,” devoting half of the officers present to deal with an expected contingent of pro-Hamas protesters.

The New York Jewish community has seen many violent disruptions over the past several years by Hamas supporters.

The parade route runs north on Fifth Avenue from 57th to 74th streets. It has been held annually in New York City since 1964. In 2011, its name was changed from the “Salute to Israel Parade” to the “Celebrate Israel Parade.”

Eden Golan, the Israeli star of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest who came in fifth place overall, is slated to join the parade float sponsored by UJA Federation of New York and to receive a Hero Award at the United Hatzalah gala event that evening, emceed by actor Michael Rapaport.

A survey of Jewish New Yorkers released on Thursday shows significant concern over safety heading into the parade.

While a small sample of respondents answered artificial intelligence-powered questions, bringing the survey’s accuracy into question, the feedback reflected anxiety among the local Jewish community, which has increased since Israel launched a campaign in Gaza following the Hamas massacre of southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7.

The majority of those planning on attending the parade up Fifth Avenue said the situation in Israel and the United States since Oct. 7 has impacted their decisions. 

Only one in five respondents who attended the parade in the last five years plan to do so again this year, with 16% “probably attending” and 5% saying they will “definitely” attend.

Even among those in the “definite” column, 78% said they are “very concerned” about their safety due to the rise of American antisemitism in the wake of Israel’s response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, Israel’s war against Hamas and the rise of antisemitism in the U.S.

An eye-popping 79% of respondents said they were either “unlikely” to attend or had not yet decided.

Of those planning on going, 64% are either “very” or “somewhat” concerned for their safety for the first time.

The survey of 287 Jewish New Yorkers was conducted over two days last week and was commissioned by Belong, which provides relocation; travel; and educational services to immigrants, tourists and students.

“Jews are worried about being supportive of Israel and scared for their safety in the streets of New York City, and this should concern American and Israeli decision-makers alike. It is important for the American Jewish community to know: We see you, and we support you,” said Eilon Gilad, CEO of Belong.

“This year’s parade isn’t like any other year. Every Jew marching in solidarity with Israel needs to know the Israelis are supporting them and their stance against antisemitism and anti-Israel attacks,” said Gilad. “That’s why it’s so important that even more people attend this year.”

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