(AP/Craig Ruttle) (AP/Craig Ruttle)
Celebrate Israel Parade
A delegation of Israeli scouts marching at the parade. (AP/Craig Ruttle)

A delegation of Israeli scouts marching at the parade. (AP/Craig Ruttle)

Thousands of Israel supporters lined New York’s Fifth Avenue for the annual Celebrate Israel Parade, followed by a festival at the famous Pier 94 and a concert in Central Park.

New York City hosted the 51st annual Celebrate Israel Parade Sunday. Over 40,000 people marched along Fifth Avenue with hundreds of thousands appearing on the sidelines to express support for the Jewish state.

The theme of the parade this year was “Israel Imagines.” As one organizer told Fox News, “It means just imagine peace, first and foremost, and unity between all the religious sects in Israel and all over the world.”

Attendees included New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who danced together with a contingent from Chabad Lubavitch, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Eight members of the Israeli Parliament from diverse political parties were also present. De Blasio and Minister without Portfolio Ofir Akunis led the parade.

“Israel and the US share values,” Akunis stated. “The past and the future of the two countries are intertwined. Israel owes a great debt to the US and its citizens who stood and stand with us even when we disagree.”

Watch Prime Minister Netanyahu’s message to the parade participants here:

“The Big Apple is blue and white,” added Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova, referring to the Israeli flag. “The feeling in New York is that there is a great friendship and a true partnership.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a televised greeting to the participants, saying, “You have gathered to express your solidarity with the one and only Jewish state. And in so doing, you are sending a powerful message of support for the essential justice of Israel’s cause.”

The parade was followed by a Celebrate Israel Festival at the popular Pier 94 and a Celebrate Israel Concert in Central Park. The Festival featured a wide array of delights, ranging from an Israeli-themed food court to performances by world-class Israeli musicians, to basketball clinics with members of the European League champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv. The concert, which was held in memory of the three teenagers kidnapped and murdered last summer in Gush Etzion, showcased Israeli and Jewish-American performers, as well as speeches by political and communal leaders.

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who attended the concert, told Arutz Sheva, “Anyone who thinks that the United States is abandoning its support of Israel – obviously they weren’t in Central Park today, because they would have found out that there is strong, passionate sentiment to stand with Israel.” Huckabee further noted that the Palestinian Authority refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and could therefore not be relied upon to make peace.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel