Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes said he was honored to walk down Fifth Avenue on Sunday with the Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, NYC Mayor Bloomberg and NJ Governor Corzine at the annual Israeli Day Parade commemorating the birth of the Jewish state in 1948.
The highlight, he said, was meeting the Shalit Family.
More than 100,000 people marched down Fifth Avenue as part of the celebration of Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary, including the parents of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
A new envoy to talkes on Shalit called the soldier’s parents, Aviva and Noam, while they were in New York and told them:”This is a mission of top priority and value, and I will act to the best of my abilities to unify the sides.”
The Shalits were welcomed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was grand marshall of the parade, as well as a number of senators. Bloomberg received a pin saying “Free Gilad” from Noam, and wore it during the march.
Among the marchers were many members of New York’s Jewish community, students of Jewish schools, members of various Jewish delegations to the US, and a beaming Wildes.
Some spectators were wondering what role President Barack Obama will play after he challenged Israel last week to stop building West Bank settlements.
“I don’t think Barack Obama should be strong-arming the Israeli government,” Darren Peister of New Rochelle, N.Y., told the Associated Press.
But his wife, Jayne Peister, said Obama brings “a different perspective” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“For 60 years we’ve not had peace,” she said. “Maybe this different perspective can bring peace to Israel.”
(Photo provided by Mayor Wildes)