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Sun, song and solidarity on south coast

    Israel supporters turn out in Brighton
    Israel supporters turn out in Brighton

    Hundreds from across the country gathered in Brighton on Sunday, waving flags, holding placards and singing Hebrew songs in a national pro-Israel rally organised by Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI).

    Police at the scene said there were 300-plus pro-Israel supporters at the event while SFI put the figure at 1,000.

    Addressing the demonstration on Sunday, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: "Brighton is extremely suitable as a venue for this event because Brighton itself suffered a very serious IRA bomb attack aimed at destroying our government. This is experienced on a daily basis in Israel.

    "All of us need to stand up and speak up for Israel, all the time. Particularly when it faces the kind of bombs it has been facing recently. If we speak loudly our voices will be heard and less easy to ignore by people in power."

    In between the changeable weather of sunshine and rain, young and old sang celebratory verses of Hava Nagila, Am Yisrael Chai, and joined hands in circles to dance the traditional Israeli hora.

    The mayor of the settlement of Efrat, Oded Ravivi had come to Brighton to speak at the rally.

    He said: "Foreigners who come to visit Efrat think they are coming into a war zone. But actually what they see is a green city with no fence or security measures around it, living peacefully with its surrounding Arab neighbours."

    Howard Feldman, 57, an American who has been living in the UK since 1986, said: "The leadership have failed to motivate and mobilise the community."

    Joe Donell, 46, from Yorkshire said: "I was raised Catholic. Without Judaism there would be no Christianity. Politically, I am here because I am sick to death of hearing all the pro-Palestinian propaganda. The Israeli side is not being heard. "

    Dan Jager, 19, from London, spent a year in Israel with FZY and plans to make aliyah and serve in the IDF. "No matter where you are in the country," he said, "it is important to show support for Israel."

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