1979: Palestine Solidarity Committee Protest

Sheila led these protests every summer for several years:

Sunday, June 3, 1979
By Ruth Landa, Associated Press Writer

Celebration of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was an underlying theme of the 15th annual Salute to Israel parade Sunday in which some 75,000 persons sang and danced up Fifth Avenue.

Mayor Edward I. Koch, City Council President Carol Bellamy and other city officials led the costumed paraders up the avenue, marching to the theme song from “Exodus” and waving to observers who lined the street despite intermittent rain.

But several blocks downtown, the peace treaty signed on March 26 was denounced by the Palestine Solidarity Committee which staged its own rally and marched uptown on other avenues in protest.

As baton-twirling majorettes, kilted bagpipers and banners hailing the treaty filed past the Israel parade’s 68th Street reviewing stand, the Palestinian supporters downtown unfurled a banner bearing a different message.

“The Salute to Israel parade is a salute to racism, colonialism and repression,” read one banner carried by Palestinian supporters.

And a 16-year-old youth was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct by defacing city property after he climbed a Rockefeller Center flagpole to hoist the Palestinian flag. He was given a summons and released.

The group of about 200 heard committee chairwoman Sheila Ryan say Palestinians were “the first victims” of the treaty, which, she said, “denies the right of the Palestinian people to self determination.”

Organizers of the Israel parade, which was sponsored by the American Zionist Youth Foundation, did not appear concerned about the protest march.

“It’s a free country. They have a right to their opinion, too,” said parade director Michael Hyman.

“The pity of it is, the need to have a counter-demonstration,” he said. “This is a celebration of peace for us. The pity is they can’t be a part of this.”

“And we wish they would join us,” said Miss Ryan as her group began to shout, “Palestine, yes! Israel, no!”


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