April 12, 2024
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Clifton Community Asks for Communal Support at May 15 Israeli Flag Raising

The Clifton Jewish Center is spearheading an Israeli flag–raising event on Sunday, May 15 at 11 a.m. at 900 Clifton Avenue in Clifton. They have asked the larger Jewish community to join them.

While an Israeli flag raising used to be an annual activity in Clifton, the habit had fallen by the wayside in recent years, due to the ebb and flow of the local population. The impetus for the invitation of the larger Jewish community to join this particular flag raising is that it follows a Palestinian flag raising in the same town a month ago, which caused consternation and agitation for local residents. That event was, according to witnesses, filled with Palestinian liberation rhetoric. According to members of the Clifton Jewish Center, the event was billed not just as Palestine flag-raising day, but also as Palestine Prisoners’ Day.

In the spirit of unity for the entire Jewish community, Jason Shames, president of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (JFNNJ), who will be the keynote speaker at the flag raising, made a statement asking those who are available to come join Clifton residents and support their pro-Israel cause.

In his statement, Shames shared some additional disturbing facts of the Palestinian flag-raising event, including that at least one city official argued for the Palestinian event because members of all countries are allowed to raise flags in the town. “At least one of the Clifton city officials thought Palestine was a state. None of the organizers made a correction, nor did anyone object to less than flattering remarks about Israel from the podium. There was video made of the proceedings, three in total. What you see in them is a lot of implied animosity against Israel. The speakers talk about the ‘freedom and liberation for Palestine’ as being a ‘holy cause.’ One expresses the hope that soon the Palestinian flag would go up in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Even worse, I learned that to the videos, which were posted on YouTube there was a lot of hate-filled commentary. The comments were all removed.

“The Palestinians in Clifton were [with]in their rights, as citizens of the United States, to hold the flag raising. They could even call for the destruction of the State of Israel, which they basically did. [But] for that to be how things are left in Clifton, that wouldn’t just be wrong, it would be abhorrent,” said Shames. To that end, he is working with the organizers and with many community partners to make sure the flag raising is well attended and to remind all citizens of Clifton that Jews from all around the community show achdus (unity) toward our State of Israel.

One of the event’s two main organizers is Rabbi Bob Mark of Clifton Jewish Center. “While the community has jumped in to support this project, it was originally and still is directed by the Clifton Jewish Center. Steve Goldberg initiated the idea and he and I went to work as co-chairmen of the project. The vast majority of the expenses for the project are being paid by our members with a major contribution from JFNNJ,which will cover about 10 to 15 percent of the project. If people would like to contribute, they can send a check to Clifton Jewish Center, Rabbi’s Charity Fund, 18 Delaware St., Clifton, NJ 07011 and mark it ‘flag raising.’ If we get overage, the balance of the funds will be contributed to Stand By Us and Israel Guide Dogs for the Blind.”

“We are expecting somewhere over 500 people, possibly as many as 800 or more, according to those who are urging attendance at the program,” Rabbi Mark told The Jewish Link. “We have the support of numerous organizations across the spectrum of Jewish observance, from ‘black hat’ to totally secular, which is the way it should be,” he said.

The Israeli flag raising is sponsored by the Clifton Jewish Center, the JFNNJ and Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest. “Showing our solidarity with the Jewish community of Clifton is a great thing. Showing solidarity with Israel is even better,” said Shames.

By Elizabeth Kratz

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