Northern Ireland Friends of Israel

nifriendsofisrael@ymail.com

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Holocaust Education Trust Ireland – message from Dr Denis MacEoin

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 19/12/2014

FAO Irish Holocaust Education Trust

Denis Maceoin

Dear Sirs,

Some of you may have known or heard of the late Helen Lewis MBE, a Holocaust survivor who found refuge after the war in Belfast, where she found a new husband and brought a young family into the world. In later life, she was awarded the MBE for her services to dance in Ulster, and she wrote, after many years, the story of her time in Terezin and other camps. One of her two sons, Michael, was in my class at RBAI, and her younger son was in my brother’s class. I got to know her in my teens when I studied at the Lyric Theatre’s drama school (run by Mary O’Malley), where she was our dance teacher. A dynamic, strong, determined yet deeply kind woman, she was the first truly formative presence in my life then. I have not forgotten the moment when, getting down to work, she rolled up her sleeves and I caught sight of the numbers tattooed there. I knew what they meant and that she had been in a concentration camp, but back in those days she never spoke openly of her experiences.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Northern Ireland Friends of Israel – welcome to our Website!

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 13/11/2014

Shalom from Northern Ireland Friends of Israel! Launched in March 2009, over 650 supporters have joined our mailing list and over 6,500 people have attended our events! We have fostered strong ties between Northern Ireland and Israel and promote understanding between the peoples of both countries. Belfast___060509_073 First and Deputy First Ministers We were honoured to host the ambassador of Israel, HE Ron Prosor, in Belfast (seen above, meeting First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness). We wish to promote positive engagement with all those who seek a just and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours.

 

NIFI is on Facebook

 

Please click on the headings in blue to look at the following:

About: our Mission Statement launched in May 2009.

Israel news in Northern Ireland - “two wee countries separated by a continent!”, amazing stories of strengthening cultural, economic and political connections between Northern Ireland and Israel

Members contributions are their own and may not in all cases reflect the views of NIFI. Articles published are owned by the person who wrote them and are not the views of the site’s editors, contributors, or other commenters.

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First Minister briefed in Brussels

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 13/11/2014

Important briefing: Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, learns about EU funding which benefits Hamas. Mr Robison is shown here meeting Alex Benjamin, political director of the European Friends of Israel. Alex was a founding supporter of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel. Here he presents Mr Robinson with the book: Hamas Terror Tunnels – Paid for by the EU?

Peter Robinson Gaza Brussels

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Treating Trauma in Northern Ireland and Israel

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 29/09/2014

“One of the most moving experiences of my life”, says Northern Ireland Assembly member, Michael Copeland MLA about his recent visit to Israel. Michael brought with him a small group of sufferers and counsellors dealing with Post Traumatic stress disorder to see the world-famous Trauma centres of Israel at work. Early diagnosis and a dedication to turn negatives into positives were two lessons the group brought back home with them. Michael says, “we met a tremendous cross section of the kaleidoscope which is Israeli society, including Israeli Jews, Palestinian Arabs, Arabs who are Israeli citizens, Bedouins, Muslims and Christians”. You can read an interview with Michael and group members here. Our photo shows Michael with the former Mayor of Sderot, David Bouskilla, during the latter’s visit to Stormont when the conversation quickly turned to trauma treatment in both countries.

Michael Copeland and Mayor Sderot

Michael Copeland, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, recalls a recent protest near his office in Belfast during Operation Protective Edge. “There was civil disorder, with people waving Palestinian and Israeli flags.” He also recalls how Israeli goods were removed from stores, one of many vignettes of how the conflict played itself out in Europe. “The world’s press does not do Israel great justice,” Copeland notes. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Herzogs of North Belfast – say no to deleting our unique Jewish heritage in North Belfast

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 14/08/2014

Sarah Herzog 1899-1979 –  185 Cliftonpark Avenue (marked by a blue plaque as the birthplace of Chaim Herzog, president of Israel).

In August 2014 the plaque was removed from the building following a spate of anti-Semitic attacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 
If she’s remembered at all in Belfast, it’s as the mother of Chaim Herzog, president of Israel, born on Cliftonpark Avenue in 1918. But Sarah Herzog was an important personality in her own right.
 
Her son, Chaim, described her as “clearly the dominant individual at home. She was very pretty and gracious and, although petite, almost regal in her demeanour. Wherever her home was, it was a centre of grace and culture and, later, in Israel, a magnet for the Jewish community from around the world.”
 
Sarah Herzog was a prominent figure in the development of the leading geriatric and psychiatric hospital in the Middle East, which is named after her – the Sarah Herzog Memorial hospital in Jerusalem.  She would head the women’s division of a political party. She was awarded two honorary doctorates and was an accomplished speaker – in English and in Hebrew.
 
Sarah’s communal responsibilities were to begin in Belfast when in 1917 – still in her teens – she married the Belfast rabbi, Isaac Herzog. It was in Belfast where she first assumed the title of rebbetzin, the designation of a rabbi’s wife, and took on pastoral and charitable responsibilities. Born in Riga (Latvia) in 1899, to a distinguished rabbinical family, she was brought up in London. Her husband was destined to become the first chief rabbi of the Irish Free State and then, from 1936, chief rabbi of the Holy Land.
 
In 1977, Sarah Herzog became the founding president of World Emunah, a Jewish women’s organisation which today has 180,000 women as members from almost 30 different countries. http://www.worldemunah.com/. As she had been widowed for almost 20 years by that time, Sarah didn’t owe this appointment to the status of her husband.
 
Emunah is one of the largest social providers in Israel, and has helped absorb Holocaust survivors and over 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Emunah’s many projects include two named after Sarah:  Neve Sarah Herzog, in Bnei Brak, which brings educational and employment opportunities to religious Jewish women; and the Sarah Herzog Children’s Home in Afula, in northern Israel, which provides a residential home to over 90 children who are unable to live with their families.
 
In the years that she lived in Belfast (1917-1919), Sarah Herzog’s principal task was to bring order to the home of the rabbi. Isaac was an outstanding Jewish scholar, but very unworldly. The community paid him a weekly salary in cash on a Friday morning. He was often left peniless by the onset of the Sabbath on Friday evening. His generosity attracted every hard up case, from within and outside the Jewish community. Never refusing anyone, the rabbi was left unable to pay his own rent. Following marriage, it was at Sarah’s insistance he was paid by cheque and all charitable cheques had to be signed by both of them!
 
On the morning he was sworn in as president of Israel in 1983, Chaim crossed Jerusalem to pray at the graves of his father and mother, and reflected: ” my mother continued on as a grande dame, even as she lost her husband and her younger son. She was fully in charge of her senses and clever to the very end. She had been offered – several times – the opportunity to run for the Knesset (Israeli parliament)…She devoted her life to Israel – starting schools, helping immigrants and setting up the largest mental and geriatric hospital in the Middle East. As I stood by their graves, I so wished they could have witnessed this day.”  Sarah Herzog’s remarkable record of communal activism flourished in later life in Israel, but the seeds were sown as a young rabbi’s wife in north Belfast.

Steven Jaffe

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Stop the Missiles – over 11,000 missile attacks on Israel since 2005

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 17/07/2014

we believe

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Why I stand with Israel

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 04/07/2014

Secular, liberal and staunch defender of Israel: Belfast-born academic and writer Denis MacEoin sets out why he stands with Israel.
Denis Maceoin
The Boycott Israel movement will always be ineffective among right-thinking people. This is because it is racist and unjust.Israel is far from being the greatest offender in the world in human rights. Countries like Iran, China, North Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and others have seriously bad human rights records. Yet the UN Human Rights Committee never condemns them but incessantly rebukes Israel.

Israel actually has a good record when it comes to rights for women, gay men and women, capital punishment, racial and religious minorities, free speech, and even the impeachment of former political leaders.

It arrests Jewish racists, it provides its Arab citizens with full voting rights and service in parliament or in courts (including the Supreme Court) as judges, Arab students take up 20% of places in universities, it uses Arabic as one of its two official languages. It has gay pride parades. It treats Palestinians in its hospitals and gives heart transplants to Palestinian children (through Save a Child’s Heart).

It sends aid teams to countries round the world after major disasters. It provides agricultural expertise throughout Africa.

It creates world-class medicines and medical instruments. It is, frankly, a more multicultural country than any of its neighbours in any direction.

Not one of Israel’s enemies can show anything even remotely resembling the human rights record of Israel. They are too busy persecuting Christians and Baha’is, Shi’is and Sunnis. They preach hate and incite or carry out violence against Israeli civilians.

So why on earth would anyone of fair mind and good heart boycott Israel and not those countries that promote violence and persecute and indulge in honour killings with impunity, and treat their women as second-class persons, and regard the killing of Jews with pride and celebration, and laud the exploits of mass murderers, and teach their children to kill?

Why do Boycotters never tell us the context within which Israelis actions must be set. I do not defend all the Israelis do, but I understand most of it. Israel is surrounded by vicious enemies who have trapped themselves in repeated refusals of peace, who seek the elimination of Israel (and make no secret of it), who use terrorism to further the aims of jihad, who are brazenly antisemitic in a fashion very close indeed to the antisemitism of the Nazis, who are wholly at odds with the democratic and human rights of the modern West, who have invaded (or tried to invade) Israel on 3 occasions and have come close to committing genocide on a people who inhabit their land rightfully under international law, and who have shown themselves to be wholly corrupt and incapable of governing their failed states.

The occupation of the West Bank is fully legal under UN resolution 242, and a majority of Israelis are only too eager to pull out of it entirely. But that can only happen when the Palestinians put life before death, make peace, recognize Israel, and renounce violence. When Israel pulled put of Gaza lock stock and barrel in 2005, Hamas took over and fires rockets into Israel almost every day.

Why don’t the Boycotters boycott Hamas?

Why can’t they see that Israel is fighting to survive against massive odds, that the rest of the Middle East is collapsing into greater and greater chaos, and that Israel is the only champion of democracy, human decency, dignity, and human rights in the region?

There has never been a more demented and hypocritical position than international anti-Israelism and the morally devoid “BDS” movement. If the Muslim states and jihadist movements ever destroy Israel, don’t worry, they will come for you next, and supporting BDS or pro-Palestinian rallies won’t save you from jihadi vengeance.

 

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For the families of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 03/07/2014

Dignified vigil at Belfast City Hall last night (Wednesday 2 July): over 70 NIFI supporters gather to stand with the families of the three Israeli teens. Candles lit and psalms recited in memory of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, and a fourth candle lit for all innocent people who have lost their lives in the conflict and for a peaceful future for the children of the region. Psalms read in Hebrew and English. Thanks to all who supported this impressive event.
City Hall 2014 candlelighting
city hall vigil 6city hall vigil 14 Neilcity hall vigil 2

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Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 01/07/2014

All at NIFI are deeply saddened to hear the news that Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali were not found alive.

Three boys

We would like to thank all people in Northern Ireland who prayed for their safe return to their families or who otherwise showed their support.
We would like to thank the sitting MPs at Westminster who signed the Early Day Motion demanding their immediate release.
candle
Our thoughts are with the families.
Baruch Dayan Emet – Blessed is the true Judge (the traditional Jewish response to bad news).

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Message from Belfast – Bring back our Boys

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 25/06/2014

Gilad, Eyal, and Naphtali were on their way home to spend Shabbat with family and friends. They never made it there, instead they are now in the hands of Palestinian terrorists.

Bring back our boys

Over 160 NIFI supporters at an event in Belfast on Sunday evening said: Bring back our boys!

Top photo shows Mayor of North Down, Cllr Peter Martin, with London-based NIFI co chair, Steven Jaffe.

Bring back our boys

Sderot bring back boys 2

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