The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Nothing Here to Celebrate Israel Parade, NYC


Mary La Rosa • 27 May 2004

This past Sunday while tens of thousands marched up New York City’s Fifth Avenue in support of Israel, Knesset Justice Minister Yosef "Tomy" Lapid, was being harshly criticized for daring to consider the memory of his grandmother while looking at an image of an old Palestinian woman crawling on hands and knees, digging in the rubble that used to be her home.

At the time of the radio interview Mr Lapid, known to be strong and outspoken in Israeli media and abroad, said that the army was considering demolishing as many as 2,000 Palestinian homes in the Rafah refugee camp in order to expand an Israeli patrol zone near the Egyptian border. Mr. Lapid, a leader of the Shinui party and part of the governing coaltion went on to say,

"We look like monsters in the eyes of the world. This makes me sick"

His statements produced much criticism from the Israeli government, in particular from Ariel Sharon's "ruling" Likud party Minister Danny Naveh, who implied that such a statement "had no place in any form" because it potentially created more anger. Other cabinet members appeared too busy winning friends in opposing parties and insurances in case Sharon's space is made available to pass important official comment.

This one moment defines the difference between silence and complicity ....and the difference in leadership qualities in Israel.

As for the parade, I am a veteran of last year's parade, having seen children of all sizes prance while carrying cardboard nuclear symbols and mothers who spit in the direction of Orthodox Hassidim who protested along with me. I was not surprised to see the same behavior repeated this year but was shocked at its timing and the further extent of its animosity in relationship to activities in Gaza and ongoing political corruption scandals that bounce back and forth between Netanyahu and Sharon. I did not expect to see such blatant and objectionable evidence of goon squads as the signs that I read, "Kahane Was Right" .

I wondered if the newscasters forget about the significance of such signs or were they ignorant of who and what Kahane represents in a civilized society especially in the eyes of other Israelis. As much as I salute the free speech afforded in America, I could not salute either the ignorance or prejudice of the news medias.

By contrast and likewise underlooked by the general media, the signs and banners on the protest side of the street were not only non threatening but were represented by organizations like Jews Against The Occupation. "Free Palestine" and "End the Occupation" but the man next to me had an article from the NYTimes which displayed a picture of the 3 year old child recently killed by IDF in her burial wrappings. She was shot and killed while walking with other children. The man on the other side of the street held out a centerfolds of naked women in response.

Somehow newscasters on early and late city edition news seemed to imply that the marchers might be in need of protection and that they had done this bright and brave thing to pass by anyone that protested against Israel and the action in Gaza.

At last year's parade I carried a sign for Mordechai Vanunu, then going into his seventeenth year in prison for daring to tell the truth in 1986 about nuclear weapons. Actually he was going into another stint of time because he refused to be placed under gag orders about how he suffered in prison.

I thought it rather poignant to feature his truth about the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. I had, earlier in the year experienced lost mailboxes and personal cyber harassments while working for online media that had an Iraqi scientist, Imad Khadduri who repeatedly wrote and advised the world at large about Iraq’s incapacity for WMD.

Last year it was eveident that other people at the parade felt the same way I did about Vanunu's barbaric treatment in relationship to truth telling, because a few of them crossed the street and told me that he "should" be released. This year I made eye contact with men across the street who made motions that slit across their throats.

Although Vanunu, like the rabbis, has been quoted saying he does not think Jewish people require a state but should live in peace, he is also presently suing a paper for much more serious libel that only helped contribute and fuel incitement of death threats against him.

While I feel the need to admonish NYC major networks for what they "did not say" in their slanted “mediocre” coverage with regards to the Parade and its protest, I must laud Israeli journalists like Amira Hass (Haaretz) and Kol military correspondent , Carmela Menasche for braving and getting much information out to the public and the world through out these last treacherous days in Rafah. How many in the general American public had to look beyond their network news for UNICEF’s important press release and report :

"With the recent military actions in Rafah – and Wednesday’s missile strike – at least 10 children have already lost their lives, including Asma and Ahmed, a 16 and 13-year-old girl and boy, respectively, shot in their home in Rafah on Tuesday morning. Many additional children have been injured and all are facing psychosocial distress.

The ongoing house demolitions in Rafah have left more 1,100 Palestinian people homeless in a 10 day period alone, out of which almost 600 are children. Between September 2000 and May 2004, more than 11,000 Palestinians have lost their homes"

One would wonder in a civilized society, how much more befitting humanity, peace and justice to have either cancelled or modified this march and its theme while the soldiers continued to shoot children and create more refugees by demolishing and destroying most of Rafah.

Instead, this Parade of support promoting Israeli tourism gave vehicle to "Kahane" style supporters . Are Kahane groups now a featured protection in visiting Israel? Is that why they were at the parade? Will Kahane groups and Hillel work together on college campuses in convincing parents to send their sons and daughters to Israel?

My NYPD protected me again this year in my fundamental right to protest and the men and women in blue did a great job . I wondered, however, why the plainclothes men did not question those across the street with their cell phones and bags who congregated without permit as they were. Also from the type of coverage the Parade received, did the news media think the police were holding back myself and the Hassidic rabbis from attacking the felafel floats that came marching by?

As I saw the various marching and gleaming politicians I began to wonder just how much local congresspeople and legislators actually know much about Israeli politick? And political parties? I know many American Jews and non Jews who could not tell you the difference between Yosef Lapids Shinui party and Ariel Sharon’s Likud or the various degrees of orthodoxy factions or the names of outlawed goon squads? But given either ignorance or disregard, I did not expect to see my representatives sending messages in general that condones the present action in Gaza or any action at all that produces UN reports concerning War Crimes.

It appalls me and shames me in what this represents to the oppressed people of Rafah.

If anything, my tax dollars should be spent building homes and not creating a bigger refugee problem. I felt shame my representatives who marched in the parade are either so ignorant or so blatantly in agreement with such War Crimes as TO BE SILENT. And it appalls me that the Kahane signs were not duly noted and reviewed by NYPD and the media at large.

Recently the Mossad has made a web site "recruiting" people for such service that brings them various information about those who might voice or make action against Israel.

All are welcome to apply.

In 1998, a retired agent was indicted on charges of fabricating reports that Syria was preparing for war. I shiver to think about such future reports as Amnesty International felt compelled to contradict about UN ambulances being used by militants.

And after such damage is done as maligning and inciting death threats against Vanunu (such as the Maariv newspaper) or giving out false rumors and lies about the use of UN ambulances, who will retract AND correct correct such falsehoods and will it be of any use to do so after having fueled further hatreds ?

The only humor of the day was provided by Donald Trump who marched in avid support of Israel and who was greeted by protestors with "You're fired!" But while he marched the children of Rafah were still being wounded and killed.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was quoted in this parade saying,

“We have to support Israel,” said Bloomberg, who has visited the country twice as mayor.

“I’ve always thought that as goes Israel, goes America.”

Now I wonder if the Mayor has ever read the final reports on the USS Liberty or if he would take responsibility along with any other representative to do their duty by taking the time to look at each UNICEF report, each Amnesty International and, especially the reports specifically contributed by Defense of Children International-Palestine about "Children in the Heart of the Israeli Rafah Offensive" .

And although the DCI-PAL report speaks about the present situation, Rafah is not the only site of war crimes perpetuated against children by the IDF.

Perhaps one could have hopes for greater understanding and peace if Americans in general, including American supporters of Israel, would take the time to look carefully at other annual reports provided by the UN and Defense of children International and understand that the children of Palestine living in the Occupied Territories will not be carrying felafel signs in a parade anytime soon. And until such time as the government of Israel can reconcile its conscience in the style and spirit of Mr Lapid, I must speak out against sending any of my tax dollars , except as relief for Rafah.

I felt compelled to thank Mr Lapid for being the strong individual he is and representing Israel with conscience. I hope more Israeli officials do so.

I suggest that every citizen of the world including every American citizen and every Israeli citizen take note of who remains silent about issues of human rights.

History will judge those who ignore the responsibility and morality of speaking out.

As for my American representatives, Republican and Democrat, who relie upon AIPAC support as much as AIPAC relies upon them, we, the people, will hold you to either silence or complicity:

And when you visit Israel on my tax dollar and see lovely styled settlements that look like a golf coursed landscape please think of the people who lived on that land and who still fight for their right of return.

Even though there is an Apartheid Wall to keep out such unpleasant sights as the demolished homes, uprooted olive trees, there is a responsibility to look over and look at what our tax dollars really support. The people who once lived there have not disappeared. If anything they are larger in homelessness because of this last weekend while we were parading and protesting.

So much of what we support goes to killing and not helping to make peace.

I very simply suggest that Israel should stop using their Army to kill civilians and perhaps instead of destroying the illegal settlements give these settlement homes over to refugees whose homes have been routinely destroyed in massive demolitions and ugly war crimes.

I suggest that the news media on this side of the world take a good and long look at their silence and complicity as well.

Mary La Rosa is a librarian and artist who lives 20 miles from NYC and who dreams the RNC will be rerouted to Texas. She can be reached at


Letters to Danny Naveh and Yosef Lapid

Dear Mr Naveh,

I recently read a quote from you in the NYTimes about MK Lapid's comment concerning his grandmother, etc..

I am living proof that such a statement is more a "positive" approach.

I applaud Mr Lapid for making such a statement.

It took character to do so.

His statement gives internationals like myself cause for small hopes that could be made larger by more men such as Mr Lapid .

Here is what I wrote to him. I send it to you respectfully and with the same sincerity I sent it to him.

I hope you can read it and find a different perspective of how his statement causes "positive" relief for some of us:

Dear MK Lapid,

My name is Mary La Rosa and I am US citizen who has written to you before this letter about Mordecahi Vanunu.

However, I wish to now write and tell you how much I appreciated what you said about your Grandmother and the current situation in Gaza.

You have spoken when others did not and would not.

I send you my deep sincere respect for this and appreciation.

I am American and come from various ethnic blends including the occupied and the occupiers. My Irish side....north and south; my mom, spanish and italian but born in Honduras , etc My Irish grandfather called me ... gypsy kid.

I was born in 1949. After a few bad first years I but was very very fortunate, even lucky, to have been found and taken to a Grandmother.

After I learned to read I became very rebellious about what I chose to read as opposed to what harsh religious school told me to read. Today I am a librarian.

I was fascinated even obsessed, by the Holocaust and craved information about the children.

As a child, I would look and look for pictures of children and so I did not read my school books but read what I wanted to read about the Holocaust and why children, boys and girls like me, were so treated in such a way. At 11 years, I remember "interviewing" grandparents of a friend who was German . That Grandmother told me she was ashamed to be German. Another person said they did not know. I can not tell you why an 11 year old felt the need to see pictures or to have the answers to questions. I just did and it was important to me at the time.

Now this situation in Israel is important to me ask questions and find out more about the leadership that is required for peace with honor.

Tell me, please, if your Grandmother had had a weapon in her house, would she have been called her a "militant" if she defended her home?

I believe it would have been her right to defend her home and she would have been called Matriarch

I wonder what you say and think?

I ask this in a respectful and sincere way.

Always I believe it is a person's duty and responsibility to ask questions and to find out.

More people should ask questions in your country and in mine.

I have Israeli friends whose opinion I trust. I do not trust some of your elected officials because of the corruption intermingled with hatred and racism.

Today , Sunday May 23 2004 was Celebrate Israel Parade in NYC. The nightly news was very misleading in that it did not feature the men I saw with "Kahane was right" signs and with very ugly hatred on faces..mostly against the hasidim I have frequently stood next to at such demonstrations.

Last year well dressed women spit at them in front of their children, but they are not as threatening as Kahane groups.

These groups will not inspire people to come to Israel, which was the overt theme of parade.

But today I shouted: "nothing here to celebrate"

The Hassidim rabbis spoke softly in Hebrew and English, "no no Zion in Torah" they said.

The man next to me had a picture of the child killed in Gaza most recently in NYTimes and the men from across from us flashed pornographic pictures in response.

They looked at my Vanunu sign and make slit motions across their throats.

Last year, men and women from the other side crossed and told me "they should release him" (Vanunu)

This year this is different and based mostly upon the hatred that was purposefully stirred up in Israeli papers like Maariv against him.

I believe the Hassidim AND Vanunu deserve free speech. This is my standard as an American.

Israel tried and sentenced vanunu. Without his total freedom there is ambiguity in justice. Ambiguity in justice for some and not all is a very dangerous thing to democracy and to democratic government.

Vanunu once wrote me that he did not want to be a Jew anymore and rejected all things Jewish because of how he was treated in solitary confinement.

I think this is bad bad thing Israel did to him for 18 years. And it did not serve justice to so enact further barbaric punishments in the name of being Jewish.

When can he be free?

There are no secrets about 1986.

You have said "let the radicals protect him".

Release him from his restrictions and we shall do my best.

We had very interesting theme for Remembrance in my library in April which was also "Library Month" It was a book by Pete Hamill, called "Snow in August"

We librarians thought it important because we had very bad incident in a school with a football team and boys who remained silent when they should have spoke out.

The book is about the friendship between an orthodox rabbi and an Irish boy . Both are subjected to the same bullies and the boy knows who beat up the rabbi but is too afraid to talk. He tells the rabbi all the reasons he can not and the rabbi tells him about the golem of Prague.

Please continue to speak out with the honor of a man who honors all Grandmothers by doing so.

It can only help Israel.

Making more refugees does not help.

One other time, I did not send you an appreciation for intervention over a child in a military prison who was sexually abused and tried to commit suicide by eating cleanser. After advocacy via Defense of Children International Palestine, this boy was released to a juvenile home where dci-pal reports he is being treated kindly. This was like a gift to me and I was made glad by who ever intervened in a positive way for this pathetic boy.

It was not just proper humane gesture, but sensible practice, because of who might use such a child after he has been damaged?

I bless the spirit of your Grandmother for so inspiring you and I bless mine as well.

I remain, sincerely,

Mary La Rosa

PS for Mr. Naveh,

The details about my preoccupation with Holocaust as a child of the 50's is absolutely true, only much more so.

Later, when I was just married I lived near a quiet man named Leonard who was a survivor and neighbor's husband, a grandfather. He was a sweet and gentle man.

After surviving what he did, he decided one day for no reason obvious to his family to hang himself.

I think of the torturous life he led before during and after his experience.

If there is a place where souls find rest I believe he was looking for it and I hope he found it.



Selected Readings:

Copy of Protest Letter to Maariv. The poll was removed but never retracted.

Amnesty IDF Killed 100 children last year

Book by Mazin Qumsiyeh: Sharing the Land of Canaan

Book by Catherine Cook: Stolen Youth






Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

29 May 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Door to Door: An Irish American House Call
Matthew Kavanah


Republicans who do not follow the Sinn Fein line are also entitled to their opinions
Dolours Price


What Made Us Distinct
Tommy Gorman


US Schools Must Disclose Information About Crime on and Around Campus - (Clery Act USA): Is Similar Legislation Required in Northern Ireland?
Sean Mc Aughey


Old Friends, New Friends
John Kennedy


Memorial Day on WBAI


No More Tears
Omar Barghouti


The Nothing Here to Celebrate Israel Parade, NYC
Mary La Rosa


Génocidaires In Gaza
Anthony McIntyre


A Writer's Writer
Henry McDonald


24 May 2004


Tipping Over Cash Cows
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Dying Easily
Anthony McIntyre


Danger to Society
Chrissie McGlinchey


The Moral Failure of the "Free World" in Gaza
Ghali Hassan


Colin Powell, DOA
Paul de Rooij


The Letters page has been updated.




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