Speak Out for Israel!
Steven is the Deputy for the Belfast Jewish community and Co chair of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel. Currently, he is working with the Board to assist regional communities to advocate for Israel.

Speak Out! Across the UK the Jewish community and its friends are forming  groups to defend Israel from the assault against its legitimacy.

In the past year, as a consultant to the Board of Deputies, Steven has travelled the length and breadth of the UK to encourage grassroots support for Israel. He believes that it’s time we started to Speak Out about what’s happening FOR Israel across the country. Here Steven reflects on some of the highlights from the past year.

Let’s start in May of last year when over 1,500 people attended the We Believe in Israel conference in London. Promoted by BICOM, the event brought together an unprecedented coalition of Jewish and Israel-related organisations from around the UK, combining to Speak out for Israel.

In November, I was amongst 600 people who participated in the Big Tent for Israel in Manchester – a city which has an active ZCC, Israel Information centre and other Israel-related organisations.

In Leeds, over 160 people are enrolled in the Leeds lobby network, “offering an opportunity for people in the North of England to be part of a co-ordinated and structured group to help Israel.” They Speak out by actively lobbying their MPs and elected representatives.    

I co chair the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel. Since NIFI’s launch in March 2009, over 3,500 people have attended our events and we have over 500 supporters on our mailing list. Want to find out more? – visit our website www.nifi.org.uk

In November, over 600 people attended an Evening for Israel in Cardiff put on by a variety of Christian groups in Wales. Over 2,000 attended a speaking tour across the country promoted by Christian Friends of Israel, with venues from Eastbourne to Dundee. Similar events for Israel have been held in Brighton, Bournemouth and Kidderminster. In March, over 700 people filled the Ulster Hall in Belfast, in one of the largest demonstrations ever held in Northern Ireland in support of Israel.

This year’s parliamentary lobby promoted by the Zionist Federation and Christian Friends of Israel was so large it required two separate committee rooms. Organisations like the ZF and Stand With Us have held training events and advocacy sessions across the country. In South London, existing Israel groups in Kingston and Wimbledon have resolved to strengthen their efforts to Speak out across the boroughs and reach out to other faith communities.

On my travels, I have been honoured to attend training sessions put on by the Midlands Israel information centre, in Birmingham. I spoke at a meeting of the Israel Information centre in Cardiff, the Sheffield Israel society and met members of the Israel society in Norwich. We Believe in Israel have staged roadshows in Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow (jointly promoted with Scottish Friends of Israel and community groups), Liverpool and London.

Over 120 people turned out for the launch of the Redbridge Israel group in July. On the south coast, the Bournemouth Israel group travels around Dorset and beyond, putting Israel’s case to the wider community.

Israel advocacy groups have been launched at individual synagogues from south Manchester to Belmont. Throughout the UK the community and its friends are Speaking out for Israel.

Want to know more? Want to become part of it? Please contact me at steven.jaffe@bod.org.uk