Thousands turn out to support Israel in London rally

A pro-Israel supporter at the rally today (Photo: Sandy Rashty)

A pro-Israel supporter at the rally today (Photo: Sandy Rashty)

Kensington High Street was awash with Israeli flags as British Jews flocked to south-west London to show their support at the Zionist Federation (ZF) rally this afternoon.

An estimated 5,000 Israel supporters – many wearing blue and white outfits for the event – held up placards that called for an end to Hamas terrorism.

From grandparents to students and children, supporters joined together to sing ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ and ‘Hatikvah’ at the event near the Israeli Embassy, where a special toast to the Queen was also made.

ZF chairman Paul Charney, who read a tehillim prayer for the fallen Israel Defence Forces 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.”

Louise Ellman, the MP for Liverpool Riverside, said she had come to the rally to “show my support for people of Israel as they defend themselves”.

The Labour Friends of Israel chair went on to describe Hamas as a “terrorist organisation.

“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 protestor 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 harms way. This is a rally for peace."

Many attendees said security concerns they had about being at the rally were overridden by a need to stand with Israel.

Waving the flag (Photo: Josh Isaac)

Waving the flag (Photo: Josh Isaac)

Grandmother Vivienne Nessim, from Hendon in north-west London, 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 added: “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.”

Angela Kosiner added: “We don’t hate them, they hate us”.

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

Others felt that British media had maintained an anti-Israel bias, and wanted to set the record straight with the presence.

The crowd cheered as cars with people waving Israel flags passed through the street.

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

Less than 100 anti-Israel activists attended the event. Many chanted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is Great” during the rally).

Yesterday, an estimated 15,000 people attended a pro-Palestinian march in central London.

Taxi driver Jonathan Meyers, who had witnessed it, said many protesters had made references to Hitler and Auschwitz.

“It was horrible, disgusting,” he said.

Last updated: 6:35pm, July 21 2014