About those Israel Day Parade T-Shirts

I was excited to finally make it to this year’s Israel Day Parade in New York. I could go on about how I was excited to support Israel, to see friends, and so on, but really, I was excited for the t-shirts.

You see, way back in 2010, I helped with the ‘design’:

‘Design’ definitely deserves its single quotation mark, but still: I really wanted to get my hands on a shirt. Unfortunately, I could never make it to New York for that purpose – until this year.

And now that I finally got one, I feel the need to comment – not because whoever designed this year’s shirt changed the English font, and not even because the ‘logo’ I had ‘designed’ had become only a minor element, but because the illustration Hillel chose to shoehorn onto the front struck me as rather curious:

To spare you from having to unduly scrutinize that picture, here are the cities it names, roughly from top to bottom:

Kfar Saba, Givatayim, Bat Yam, Eilat, Ramla, Kiryat Gat, Hadera, Kiryat Motzkin, Nazareth, Tiberias, Nahariyya, Beit Shemesh, Ramat Gan, Beer Sheva, Akko, Herzliyya, Ashdod, Karmiel, Holon, Jerusalem, Hod HaSharon, Umm el Fahm, Haifa, Kiryat Ata, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Rishon LeZiyyon, Lod, Ashqelon, Bene Beraq, Netanya

If you know anything about Israeli geography, you’ll notice that every single one (with the possible exception of parts of Jerusalem) is located on the Israeli side of the ‘green line’ that separates pre-1967 Israel from the territory it gained in the Six Day War. The list even includes Umm el Fahm, an Arab-Israeli city on Israel’s border with the West Bank. In other words, not a single settlement on the other side of the green line – Hebron, Kiryat Arba, Efrat, Alon Shvut, Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim, to name just a few off the top of my head – made it.

It would seem this decision puts paid to attempts to paint the parade – and its environs – as a hotbed of radical right-wing pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian activity, until you take another look at that shirt and pay closer attention to the border with which it represents Israel. Note that this is the same border that (rightfully) gets supporters of Israel worked up about PA intentions from time to time:

And while Israel does actually have some claim to this entire territory – in that it does physically control the land within the borders depicted on the t-shirt – this indignation should all, in fairness, work both ways.

I wrote earlier that the t-shirt design was ‘curious’. Were the list of cities not so expressly limited to the undisputed borders of Israel, I don’t think I would have imagined a great deal of thought went into the shirt’s design. But given the fact that it has, I think the contrast represented by the t-shirt ‘design’ provides a shred of insight into the schizophrenic relationship American supporters of Israel navigate on a constant basis.

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