Over 200 attended the launch of East Anglia Friends of Israel in Norwich at an impressive gathering, which brought together members of the local Jewish community and Christians from across the region to demonstrate their support for Israel.
Dan Golan, the cultural attaché at the Israeli embassy, represented the state of Israel at the event.
Jill Gower, chair of the East Anglia Friends of Israel said: “I am thrilled that our new organisation will provide a platform for the existing support for Israel there is in East Anglia.Given the sad history of Norwich as the birthplace of the medieval blood libel, it was extremely moving for so many Christians to make a stand with us this evening against anti-Semitism and intolerance.”
Hundreds of attendees at the event, which took place at Soul Church in Norwich, signed the Shalom Declaration that calls upon political leaders to combat anti-Semitism and extremism across the world and promote positive ties with Israel.
At the event the new Friends of Israel group announced an informal twinning arrangement with Yezreel Valley College in the Galilee. There are plans for visits to the College and hosting college speakers in the UK.
Board of Deputies of British Jews consultant Steven Jaffe said: “East Anglia Friends of Israel is the latest grassroots friends of Israel group to be launched in the UK, joining East Midlands Friends of Israel which was launched the previous week. These wonderful and energetic new groups demonstrate there is a national and growing movement in support of Israel in the UK. The event in Norwich was an outstanding and very moving show of support for Israel and the local Jewish community.
Dan Golan, cultural representative for the Embassy of Israel, delivered this address and it was indeed heartwarming to see quite how many friend we have:
“Shalom to all our dear friends who have gathered here this evening as committed supporters of Israel.
With all the challenges Israel faces, all the ups and downs of our portrayal in the media and other sections of society, I want you to know how excited we are to see the launch of East Anglian Friends of Israel and the beginning of an ongoing friendship between you and our national homeland Eretz Yisrael.
I would particularly like to thank Gill Gower and her team in East Anglia who have coordinated the launch and for their support and hard work in helping make this wonderful evening possible as well as all those who will be involved in the new group.
I know there are many of our Christian friends with us tonight and I want you to know how we really value the principled support of our Christian friends. You voice has never been more important, expressing your commitment to Israel, and doing it in such a proud and publically passionate way. To our friends from the good friends of the Norwich Jewish community that are here tonight, you are a shining example of what Jewish people should be; keeping their connections with Israel strong and working together, side by side with other communities to help make Israel’s voice heard.
Whilst Norwich has had a historically difficult past as the location from where the Blood Libel originated it is wonderful to see today a strong united group, publically showing their support for Israel as the Jewish homeland. The partnership between Israel and its friends here in Britain dates back long before 1948. It was here that the early Zionist movement took root and where some of Israel’s greatest pioneers and leaders were born and raised. British supporters of Israel have worked her fields and made her deserts bloom; they have defended her in war and have invested in her startups; they continue to support her social initiatives and work to ensure that the image portrayed of Israel in the United Kingdom reflects reality.
In fact next year we will see the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration. Whilst there are those who stand to see Britain apologise for this support for a Jewish homeland we have a wonderful opportunity to make clear that Britain’s support for Israel stands stronger than ever. This means that those of you who are supportive of the State of Israel need to raise your voices and be even more active to demonstrate your support so it will be heard in Norwich and all the way to Whitehall and Westminster.
Finally, if I may, I wish to extend a humble blessing to you all that G-d continues to bless all of your work so you can reach out to as many people as possible educating and enlightening them about our homeland – Israel.
Thank you all very much for choosing to spend your evening to help celebrate Israel. Israel and the Embassy in London are truly blessed to have you all as friend in the United Kingdom. Shalom“
Dan Golan – Minister-Counsellor for Cultural Affairs
Dan Golan has served as Deputy Ambassador in Israel’s Embassies in the Congo and New Zealand and as Cultural Attaché in Morocco and Germany. Dan has always believed in the power of culture to build bridges and open channels of understanding amongst pe
pole, Government Officials included. Through the years, Dan Golan has served, in between missions, as a Head of each and every section of the Cultural Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, in Jerusalem.
Dan holds a Magna Cum Laude Master degree in Digital Philosophy and is especially fond of Music as a form of artistic expression.
The Shalom Declaration is a unique initiative building bridges between Jews and Christians. Launched in Leeds, England in March 2015, the Shalom Declaration has been signed by over 180 Churches, ministries and prayer groups across the UK and by and on behalf of thousands of individual Christians. It has also been signed in Belgium, Spain, Republic of Ireland and Italy – and has been endorsed by Dr. Arto Hämä-läinen the leader of the Pentecostal European Fellow-ship which has over 3 million members across Europe. It is a Declaration by Christians who wish to make a public stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters in appreciation of Israel as the only democratic country in the Middle East. The only country in the region where the Christian community is growing. According to former Israeli President Shimon Peres: Jewish-Christian relations “are closer today than at any time in history”. As Jews and Christians stand together in support of Israel and against extremism and perse-cution throughout the world, the Shalom Declaration enables Christian prayer groups, churches and minis-tries to participate in this exciting development.