More than 4,000 people gathered in London yesterday to pay tribute to the victims of the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks over the weekend.
The event, outside Downing Street, was organised by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council and attended by politicians from the Government and Opposition as well as religious and communal leaders.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told the audience that he spoke “as the father of a Jewish family”. He said: “Let me be clear. Valorising the terrorism of Hamas is a serious criminal offence. Those who engage in it, or indeed any other form of antisemitic attack, must be hunted down, arrested and prosecuted. There can be no tolerance of this hatred and antisemitism in our country.”
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said that he had spoken to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and that the Prime Minister’s commitment to Israel had “doubled”. He added: “The UK has stood against evil before, we have stood against hatred before, we have stood against antisemitism before. We always stand against evil and hatred and antisemitism.”
Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, who had travelled down from the Labour conference in Liverpool to attend, said: “In this great country of the United Kingdom it doesn’t matter whether you are Conservative, it doesn’t matter if you are Liberal Democrat, it doesn’t matter if you are Labour: We stand with Israel.”
Introducing the vigil, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “We are here this evening, united – left and right, orthodox and progressive, young and old. We are here to mourn the fallen, to stand with the survivors, and to say, loud and clear – am Yisrael chai – the children of Israel live.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis told the audience: “Hamas is about violence, dread and terrorism”, adding “We pray for peace, we yearn for peace”.
The vigil was addressed by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey who praised the Government and the Opposition for coming together to support Israel during this crisis. Also speaking were Progressive Rabbi Charley Baginsky, former Conservative Leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith, Zionist Youth emissary, Ofri Gubber, former Jewish Leadership Council Chair Sir Mick Davis and Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, who said: “This is a fight of good against evil and good will prevail.”
The event was closed by Jewish Leadership Council Chair Keith Black, who said: “The support that Israel has received from the UK and around the world proves that Israel is not alone.”
The thousands in the crowd, displaying Israeli flags and placards in memory of the thousands killed, kidnapped and wounded in the past few days, sang the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah at the end of the vigil.
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