With pomp and flags, thousands mark Celebrate Israel parade

With pomp and flags, thousands mark Celebrate Israel parade

An estimated 35,000 marchers throng Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on event's 50th anniversary

Tens of thousands of people gathered in New York City on Sunday for the annual Celebrate Israel parade, marking the 50th anniversary with Israeli and American flags along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

The annual event was estimated to draw some 35,000 people.

Among the elected officials participating in the annual parade were New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The parade, formerly known as the Israel Day Parade, has been fraught with controversy this year after a New York Sephardic synagogue and three other organizations and yeshivas threatened to  “abstain” from marching alongside progressive Zionist groups such as the New Israel Fund and J Street, who were accused of supporting a boycott on Israel.

Despite the friction, an estimated 200 organizations were taking part.

John Ruskay, head of the UJA-Federation of New York, one of the parade’s main sponsors, said in a statement that the event was an opportunity for “Jews and non-Jews, young and old, led by New York City public officials [to march] up Fifth Avenue expressing their love for and commitment to the people and state of Israel.”

“One day each year we put differences aside and come together to make clear: we stand with the people of Israel as they resist violence and in their pursuit of peace. That’s what the parade is about each year,” Ruskay said.

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