Is­rael backed by thou­sands at Lon­don rally

All ages dressed in blue and white show their sol­i­dar­ity in words and song

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SANDY RASHTY

KENS­ING­TON HIGH Street was awash with Is­raeli flags as Bri­tish Jews demon­strated their sup­port at a Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion (ZF) rally on Sun­day.

An es­ti­mated 5,000 peo­ple — from chil­dren to grand­par­ents – showed their sol­i­dar­ity, singing Am Yis­rael Chai and the Hatik­vah and hold­ing aloft plac­ards de­mand­ing an end to Ha­mas ter­ror­ism.

Many dressed in blue and white for the rally, held near the Is­raeli em­bassy and backed by 60 com­mu­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

ZF chair­man Paul Char­ney, who read a prayer for the fallen IDF sol­diers, said: “The whole of Is­rael is look­ing at the UK and say­ing we have friends. The road to peace does not run through Ha­mas.

“If these so called pro-Pales­tinian demon­stra­tors re­ally cared about the Pales­tini­ans, they would be stand­ing along­side us here to­day.”

Liver­pool MP Louise Ell­man said she had at­tended to “show my sup­port for peo­ple of Is­rael as they de­fend them­selves” from the “ter­ror­ist” Ha­mas.

“I am here for an end to the rock­ets on both sides. I’ve called on our govern­ment and sup­port­ers of both Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans to work for a cease­fire.”

“This is about peace and se­cu­rity,” added Board of Deputies pres­i­dent Vivian Wine­man. “It is im­por­tant for us as Jews to demon­strate our sup­port for Is­rael, for the sake of peace. It is vi­tal that the lead­er­ship of the com­mu­nity says to the com­mu­nity, ‘this is what we should be do­ing’.

“Show­ing the wider com­mu­nity that the Jews are in sol­i­dar­ity with Is­rael and with peace. Above all, show­ing peo­ple in Is­rael that we are with them. At the end of the day, we just want peace, we want a cease­fire.”

Rabbi Shlomo Farhi, of Aish UK, said: “When [a pro­tester hold­ing] a Pales­tinian flag drove down the road and peo­ple were boo­ing, I told them to stop. We’re here for them, try­ing to save their peo­ple against others who are putting them in harm’s way. This is a rally for peace.”

Many of those present said a need to stand with Is­rael had overid­den any se­cu­rity con­cerns about be­ing at the rally.

Po­lice re­ported that one man was as­saulted and treated by the Lon­don Am­bu­lance Ser­vice. No ar­rests were made.

Hen­don grand­mother Vivi­enne Nes­sim said: “Of course we are scared, but our boys are go­ing into a war zone so we have to stand strong with Is­rael”.

Arnie Kosiner stressed: “The world has to see that the state of Is­rael has sup­port. So many peo­ple are turn­ing out for the Pales­tinian demon­stra­tions and there’s a very close line be­tween anti-Zion­ism and an­ti­semitism. I think they’ve crossed it.”

“Is­rael is the only place we have as Jews,” added Florette Hy­man.

Others were prompted to take part by a feel­ing that the Bri­tish me­dia had main­tained an anti-Is­rael bias.

The crowd cheered as cars with pas­sen­gers wav­ing Is­rael flags passed by.

A one-minute si­lence, started with the siren heard around Is­rael dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge, was cut short after tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties amd anti-Is­rael ac­tivists chant­ing: “Shame on you.”

There were less than 100 op­po­si­tion pro­test­ers, many shout­ing: “Al­lahu Ak­bar” — “God is great”.

Taxi-driver Jonathan Mey­ers had wit­nessed the pre­vi­ous day’s a proPales­tinian march in cen­tral Lon­don, which he said had been “hor­ri­ble, dis­gust­ing”, with some marchers mak­ing ref­er­ence to Hitler and Auschwitz.

Hav­ing trav­elled from Brighton, Sus­sex Friends of Is­rael co-founder Si­mon Cobbs said: “To all those peo­ple who didn’t come to­day be­cause they thought there would be trou­ble — you were wrong.

“Next time Is­rael needs you come and join in. When you need Is­rael, she will be there for you.

“We are all here with smiles on our faces. I won’t waste my time talk­ing about yes­ter­day’s rally and their Je­wha­tred.”

The word from Is­raeli Am­bas­sador Daniel Taub —who did not speak at the rally as he was called away on diplo­matic du­ties — was that “while Is­rael is un­der at­tack from Ha­mas rock­ets, drones and tun­nels, it is so im­por­tant to see this show of tremen­dous sup­port here in Lon­don for the mil­lions of Is­raelis, Jews and Arabs, who have to live in reach of bomb shel­ters, and for the de­fence forces who are risk­ing their lives to pro­tect them.”

David Bouskila, the for­mer mayor of Sderot — a con­stant tar­get of rocket at­tacks — said: “Is­rael wants to live in peace. We want Gaza free from Ha­mas. It warms my heart to see the Jewish na­tion stand­ing here. Be strong for us, and for you.”

Is­raeli Ori Sagi, 28, said the rally made her “feel more con­nected. It makes me feel proud and happy to be Jewish and Is­raeli. It feels like a mini­home here”.

Her mes­sage to anti-Is­rael fac­tions was: “Don’t be mis­led by the me­dia. In­ves­ti­gate the truth your­self. There are other parts of the puz­zle.”

On be­half of Chris­tian friends, Bishop Ethel­bert Buchanan said: “Some­one greater than the Iron Dome is pro­tect­ing you — God.”

Among other non-Jews at the rally was Jac­que­line Brown. She had at­tended “to sup­port Is­rael and to sup­port peace. Is­rael has a right to de­fend her­self.”

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