The Celebrate Israel Parade on Fifth Avenue got off to a rousing start Sunday in the Grand Ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel where a score of politicians mounted the podium to outdo each other in praise of the Jewish homeland.
It's become a tradition for politicos leading the parade to come first to the annual legislative breakfast of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, now known as Met Council .
Under the direction of board chair Merryl H. Tisch, 16 individuals received leadership awards for their support of the council's efforts to alleviate poverty in New York.
Rep. Charles Rangel insisted that the safety of the United States depends totally on the security of Israel, which is "the only center of democracy in that part of the world."
Sen. Charles Schumer maintained that settlements are not an impediment to peace. "Israel gave up settlements in Gaza and what happened? Hamas sent rockets into Sderot. The issue is that the Arabs do not believe in a two-state solution and do not believe in the right of a Jewish state to exist."
The reason there is no peace, Schumer said, is because too many Palestinians and Arabs do not believe in a two-state solution. "They still believe in the destruction of Israel."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg too saw Israel surrounded by people who want to destroy it and said, "We don't negotiate with such people."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn went a step further when she said that "any attack on Israel is an attack on New York City. All of us stand firm on this position."
New York's junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, told how she got results in Washington when she secured "millions of dollars to protect synagogues in New York with anti-terrorism money."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler sounded the alarm of diminishing aid for the poor. He noted that some people believe government should have no role in helping poor people. "There is an intent to take away Social Security and Medicaid," he said.
"Whether this country regains its moral footing, to help those who work hard and still need help, is very much in question," he warned.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney however was quite firm: "We will not allow subsidies to oil companies while cutting aid to Medicare."
Of course, Met Council came in for an overabundance of praise. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein praised executive director and CEO William Rapfogel and president Joseph Shenker for their programs of relief for the Jewish poor.
At that point Senator Schumer declared, "Baruch Hashem there is a Met Council."
Republican State Senator Dean Skelos said he has something in common with Democrat State Senator Sheldon Silver. "We are both Orthodox. Only he is Jewish and I am Greek."
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