LOS ANGELES, April 22, 2013 — Rancho Park on the West side of Los Angeles was turned blue and white on Sunday in honor of the 65th anniversary of Israel’s existence. The event “Celebrate Israel,” was put on by the Israeli American Council.
The official Israeli Independence Day on April 15th was overshadowed by the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon. Yet after a tough week for Americans nationwide, Los Angeles on Sunday was only festive.
Security was reasonable but far less suffocating than the traffic congestion. It took about an hour to get from my home to the event, despite the location being about five minutes away at most.
Once inside the park, there was plenty to like about an event that began at 10:00am PST and lasted nine hours.
For those looking for a family friendly place to bring children, the day was nothing short of perfection. The atmosphere resembled a carnival, with plenty of rides, as well as games from basketball shooting to ring tossing where people could win stuffed animals.
There was plenty of food, but surprisingly, most of it did not adhere to Jewish kosher dietary laws. Several bands played everything from American pop music to reggae.
The crowd was smaller than in past years, but did seem to build steadily as the day went on. Relentless heat began to subside in the late afternoon, helping matters.
One surprise was that there seemed to be fewer vendors than in past years. Most of the vendors were non-controversial. Jewish cookbooks and holiday items such as Hanukkah Menorahs were everywhere for sale. Jewelry and clothing merchants had a significant presence.
There were plenty of social services organizations providing a range of functions from helping sick children afflicted with cancer to providing healthy ones a place to attend sleepaway Summer camp.
One surprise came in the form of politics. Unlike past years, the political starpower in 2013 was tame. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa used to make passionate speeches at this event. There was no gubernatorial presence this year, and outgoing Mayor Villaraigosa was introduced in passing. Both current Mayoral candidates attended, but were barely noticeable.
While Israeli Independence Day is supposed to be apolitical, everything is political in the Jewish community. Novices could be forgiven for being confused at which organizations present were truly Pro-Israel.
Chabad is the most prominent Jewish organization in the world. Their Los Angeles drug treatment center has saved many lives, and their organization is above reproach. Jews for Judaism is set up to counter organizations trying to convert Jewish individuals away from the Hebrew faith. The Jewish Chamber of Commerce had a respected presence. Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) were well respected and received.
Of all the booths, the most popular by far belonged to the invaluable organization “Stand With Us.” They combat anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Semitism on college campuses. Their new project “Israel matters” shows all of the good deeds the Jewish state engages in that do not receive mainstream media attention.
Whether in Africa, Asia, or even Muslim nations not always friendly to them, Israel always offers to help victims of natural disasters. Stand With Us organized a “Salute to Israel Walk” before the official events of the day.
Aish Hatorah sponsors free trips to Israel for Jews up to age 26. J-Connect (through Jewlicious) and J-Space provide the places for socializing. Their Jewish parties are great places for Jewish singles to mingle.
While the Council on American Islamic Relations did not have a booth, the group J-Street unfortunately did. J-Street calls itself “Pro-Israel, Pro-peace.” They are a controversial organization that even many Jewish liberal Democrats find odious. Secular American leftist Jews like them, while Israelis by and large remain unimpressed.
One disappointment came in the form of who was not in attendance. There was no conservative Republican presence. While most American Jews in Los Angeles lean to the left, Israelis and Persian Jews vote overwhelmingly Republican. Although 2013 is a quiet political year in the City of Angels (Both Mayoral candidates are liberal Democrats), Republican organizations should have backed up their “outreach” talk with a presence.
Many people complimented my t-shirt showing a picture of President George W. Bush dressed up as an Orthodox Jew with the caption, “Don’t worry. Be Jewish.” This would have been a great event to register new Republican voters. Instead it became a missed opportunity.
Media coverage was non-existent. The Jewish Journal was handing out free copies of their magazine. The paper is hard left ideologically (a charge it alternately denies and then admits as justified), but was at this event more to promote their brand than cover the event.
Most of the attendees were more interested in various Israeli publications. The lack of “top tier” politicos meant a media blackout.
At the end of the day, the main attraction was a ninety minute rock concert to close out the evening. Israeli band Mashina had the entire crowd celebrating, as Israeli flags were waved along to the music. While Israel is constantly subjected to wars it never sought, every message emanating from Israel is one of peace. Mashina sang about peace, love, and happiness.
On this day in Los Angeles, despite everything going on in the world, that is exactly what they delivered. Israel’s 65th birthday is now in the books, and it was a very happy one for those who took part in celebrating it.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS.
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