Manchester and Leeds communities stand in solidarity with Israel

MPs and communal leaders among the thousands of supporters


Over 1,500 people stood on the streets of Manchester on Wednesday evening to show their solidarity to Israel and the Jewish community in the wake of the terrorist attacks last weekend.

Andy Burnham, Metro Mayor for Greater Manchester, told the assembled crowd: “When any community or country is a target for terrorism, this city will always stand with them. We know events in Israel whilst shocking for everyone, have been traumatising for our Jewish community in Greater Manchester.

“Many are concerned for the safety of loved ones in Israel, and many will be worried about the risk of a rise in antisemitic hatred here in the UK. Our message is clear. We stand in solidarity with the community in Israel and Greater Manchester. We will never tolerate any form of hatred on our streets.”

Organised by Manchester Jewish Representative Council, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies, the vigil in St Peter’s Square, was addressed by leading communal and political figures, including the Chief Rabbi, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, Lord John Mann, Christian Wakeford MP and shadow leader of the House of Commons, Lucy Powell MP.

Mark Adlestone OBE, chair of the Jewish Rep Council, said the community was mourning “the lives of the innocent civilians brutally murdered, killed in the most unimaginably cruel way at the hands of barbaric terrorists”.

He paid tribute to the police force and the city’s leaders, saying the Jewish community would be “eternally grateful[…] to those from outside the Jewish community who have come to show solidarity and have been outspoken in support”.

He said that the Jewish community had received “the full-throated support” from the police and local MPs and councillors “from across the political divide”.

Speaking after the vigil, Christian Wakeford MP for Bury South said: “I stand proudly by my constituents and the Jewish community in condemning these terrorist attacks that we have witnessed over the last few days and reiterate that Israel has a right to defend itself but, more importantly, to exist whilst many would try to deny them this right.”

Meanwhile, in Leeds, nearly 1,000 people stood for a five-minute silence during a vigil for Israel on Wednesday.

Attended by members of both the Jewish and non-Jewish community, the crowds heard speeches from Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central and Simon Myerson, chair of the Leeds Jewish Representative Council (LJRC).

The vigil, which was watched by a further 1,900 people on a livestream, included prayers and psalms, recited by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite, the Bishop of Kirkstall, Arun Arora and someone from the local Israeli community.

Speaking afterwards to the JC, Alan Benstock from the LJRC stressed: “This was a vigil, not a rally or march. It was a vigil for all those killed, kidnapped, injured, in peril and displaced in Israel after the attack.”

He said that “the most moving and poignant moment” had been the five-minute silence, which was broken by the blowing of a shofar. “There was a sense of absolute solidarity with those we were thinking of in Israel,” he said. 

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