We are going through difficult times in Israel. The country is under attack by a terrorist organisation with a jihadist ideology, backed by Iran that aspires to replace Israel with a theocratic state.
I know many of you have family and loved ones in Israel who are currently experiencing the distressing realities of conflict. Children, too young to fully comprehend the difficulty of the situation, fearing for their lives, have elderly relatives who are too fragile to quickly reach bomb shelters.
Last weekend we saw the same hateful radical ideology that controls the Gaza Strip penetrate the streets of London, further highlighting the lack of distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. We stand united against this extremism and together we shall prevail.
Since the beginning of the current operation, I have been moved by the support Israel has received from the Jewish community. People have called and written to the embassy and sent messages of solidarity to the government and the Israel Defense Forces, who are doing everything possible to protect the lives of our citizens.
It was pleasing to witness the UK government also expressing its support for Israel’s right to defend itself and condemn Hamas for launching rockets on Israel’s civilian population indiscriminately, through foreign ministers’ frequent communication, and in high level conversations I’ve held over the past week – as we would have expected from a like-minded democratic friend.
Unfortunately, we have witnessed the devastating impact of Hamas’ true nature here in the UK, be it in London, Manchester, smaller communities or online. Some pro-Palestinian activists tore up and stamped on Israeli flags, chanted antisemitic slurs and threw stones at police.
The vaccine-less pandemic of antisemitism and hate speech has spread further on social media platforms and in Jewish neighbourhoods. The fact that over the past weekend, on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, we celebrated against the backdrop of calls to kill the Jews and rape their daughters, is alarming.
Although the swift condemnation by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, senior members of his cabinet, as well as the leader of the opposition was reassuring, the prevalence and imminence of these behaviours should be of grave concern to us all.
The people who committed these acts share the same radical ideology Hamas and Iran are promoting in our region; an ideology spread via social media to all corners of the world. This ideology is not interested in any form of dialogue or even of acknowledging the existence of Israel, irrespective of borders. We should confront them together.
Events in Israel have an impact on the entire Jewish people – as a community and as individuals, in your daily lives. Your care and concern goes beyond the safety and security of your loved ones.
Indeed, the recent escalation has also challenged the delicate intricacies of Israeli society. It is in such times we have to remember that although the violent minority is loud, the majority of Israelis – Jews and Arabs – have chosen for decades, day after day, to live together.
In this challenging period, it is evident that even if, at times, we may differ in our views, we are still united by our love of Israel and the Jewish people.
It is of the utmost importance to me you know that, as you stand in solidarity with Israel, the people and the state of Israel stands firmly in solidarity with you.