Seattle Celebrates Israel at 70 as Protesters Recite Kaddish for Terrorists

In a city glutted with groups harshly critical of Israel, it may have seemed too much to ask for a day to simply celebrate the Jewish state. But that is what Seattle’s Jewish Federation attempted to do this past Sunday with their event titled “Celebrate Israel at 70”, the culmination of a series of events billed as #NWIsraelFest. Federation President, Nancy Greer heralded the festival, noting that “The Puget Sound region’s physical distance from Israel is not something that we can change, but #NWIsraelFest is one way of making our Jewish homeland more easily accessible, as Israel holds a central place in our hearts.”

Israel holds a central place in our hearts.

By all accounts, the event was a smashing success. Participants from across the spectrum of Seattle’s diverse Jewish community enjoyed an afternoon of live music, games, art, and, food all under the massive roof of  Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park.


Entertainment for the entire family at the Seattle Jewish Federation’s Israel at 70 celebration. Photo Credit: JFGS via Facebook

A sun-drenched Seattle day filled with children chasing blue and white balloons and families swaying to gentle Israeli folk music was too ripe a target for IfNotNow, a small but vocal anti-Israel group. About ten black shirted IfNotNow protesters tried to disrupt the Israel at 70 event, shouting  slogans and accusing Israel of targeting “unarmed protesters” in Gaza. IfNotNow Seattle issued a statement explaining that their attempt to disrupt the Jewish event was to “remind attendees that, in recognizing 70 years of statehood, we also remember 70 years of violence, murder, displacement, the ongoing military occupation, and the recent violence in Gaza”. 

Invoking the Jewish tradition of reciting the Kaddish  after the passing of a close relative, IfNotNow activist Simone Adler appropriated the ancient prayer to “honor” the memory of rioters killed while trying to breach or damage the Israeli border fence. The Amit Terrorism and Intelligence Center has positively identified 80% of those killed during the Gaza border riots as  “terrorist operatives affiliated with terrorist organizations, primarily Hamas.”

Enjoying the celebration with her three young children, Jessica Hoffman told TMR that Israel at 70 was a wonderful event. “It was moving to see the Jewish community unified for one day in our shared love of of Israel”. The festival was sponsored by the Seattle Jewish Federation, Israeli American Council and the Stroum Jewish Community Center.

“It was moving to see the Jewish community unified for one day in our shared love of of Israel”.

Hoffman told TMR that she used the protests as a teaching moment.  “We explained to our kids that these are anti-Semites.”  One of the IfNotNow members overheard my comment “and called out “We’re Jewish.” “We know,” I said, I then explained to our kids that in every generation some Jews are always fools who are fooled. Lesson of the day.”