As the U.S. opened its embassy in Jerusalem, Philadelphia officials raised Israel’s flag at City Hall Monday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the nation. And as in Jerusalem, not everyone was pleased.
Protesters called on politicians to boycott the flag raising, but the ceremony went on as the students of the Perelman Jewish Day School sang the Israeli national anthem in Hebrew.
“We are very fortunate to have such a strong Jewish community calling our city home,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We must keep standing up for our Jewish residents in spite of the anti-semitism that has resurfaced as of late.”
Susanna Lachs Adler, chair of the board of of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, referred to the strife in Gaza where 55 Palestinian protesters were killed Monday during demonstrations against the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem.
“The ongoing struggle for a democratic Jewish state, living in peace side by side with the Palestinian nation has not yet come to fruition,” she said. “It is our hope that today’s activities in Israel will not prevent leaders from resolving their differences and bring peace to the region.”
One of the protesters, Tali Ruskin of the group Jewish Voice for Peace, was upset the city would celebrate Israel on the same day the embassy was opened in Jerusalem.
“The move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is also happening today just miles away from where the massacre on Gaza is happening. We absolutely condemn that move we think that it is it is politically charged and completely out of line with U.S. foreign policy to Israel.”
This is not the only Philadelphia event sparking protests over relations with Israel. At least three times, protesters have picketed outside the Philadelphia Orchestra, upset with the group’s June tour that includes stops in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.