Thousands expected at London pro-Israel rally

By Sandy Rashty, July 18, 2014
An Israel rally in London last year (Photo: John Rifkin)

An Israel rally in London last year (Photo: John Rifkin)

Thousands of Israel supporters are expected to attend a rally outside the country’s embassy in central London on Sunday.

The two-hour event, led by the Zionist Federation (ZF) and backed by 60 organisations, will recreate the sirens heard by Israeli citizens since Operation Protective Edge began last week. Deactivated missiles will also be on display.

Alan Aziz, director of the ZF, said: “It has been over half a century since Britain last experienced the sound of sirens warning of impending rocket fire. While the terror of the Blitz is thankfully just an historical fact for most Londoners, for ordinary Israelis it’s an everyday reality. It is impossible to understand why Israel is targeting terrorists in Gaza without acknowledging this reality.”

Labour MP Louise Ellman, Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub and Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman will speak at the event.

The event will be manned by the Metropolitan Police and Community Security Trust.

Pro-Israel supporters were undeterred by the prospect of a counter-demonstration from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Mr Wineman said: “This is not Israelis against Palestinians, but the common enemy that threatens them both. Extremism and violence in the form of Hamas which is the true enemy. It is a barbarous regime which slaughters women and children of nations with whom it is in conflict but also a regime which exposes its own people to violence. It takes brutality and callousness to new and unprecedented levels.

"Here in the UK, we need to reach out to different communities and groups to ensure that we are able to export peace, and not import conflict."

Simon Cobbs, the co-founder of Sussex Friends of Israel, confirmed that he would travel to London from Brighton to attend the rally.

A Labour Friends of Israel spokesman said the group “will join the rally’s call for peace and support for Israel’s absolute right to self-defence. We hope for an end to the current escalation, triggered by Hamas’s indiscriminate terror attacks on Israeli civilians and its rejection of ceasefire proposals”.

He added: “We must all hope that a ceasefire will emerge soon and we join with those Israelis and Palestinians working hard to ensure an end to the conflict and a peaceful future for both peoples."

A spokeswoman for Conservative Friends of Israel confirmed that the group had alerted supporters about the rally.

A spokesman for the ZF said the “Yes to Peace, No to Terror” would give the community an opportunity “to come out and show its support for Israel and her right to self-defence”.

He added: “Hamas were offered ‘quiet for quiet’ – instead, they responded with hundreds of missiles aimed at [Israeli] civilians. No part of the country has been left unaffected as families from all walks of life have been forced to live with the constant fear of the next warning siren.”

The ZF spokesman said he expected around 2,000 people to attend the rally.

Last updated: 4:32pm, July 18 2014