Herzog centenary celebrated in Belfast


Herzog logo


On Tuesday 16 October Northern Ireland Friends of Israel hosted Isaac Herzog to Belfast to celebrate the centenary of his father’s birth in Israel – Chaim Herzog, sixth President of Israel.

Isaac is the former head of the Israeli Labour Party and leader of the opposition in the Israeli parliament. He is the chair of the Jewish Agency, the main organisation in the Jewish world which acts as a bridge between the state of Israel and the diaspora. Isaac is named after his grandfather who was rabbi in Belfast, 1916 -19, and became chief rabbi of Israel.

Northern Ireland Friends of Israel were also proud to host in Belfast members of the Herzog family who were visiting Northern Ireland for the first time.

At a wonderful lunch at Belfast synagogue the Herzog family was presented with a portrait of the late President by the Northern Ireland based painter Rachel Quirey which will be displayed by the community.

Herzog portrait Rachel

The Lord Lieutenant of Belfast spoke movingly of the Belfast Jewish community’s contribution to the city.

The family visited the former Herzog family home in Clifton Park Avenue where President Chaim Herzog was born a century ago.

Herzog family at Clifton Park Avenue Belfast

They met with the speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and political leaders and representatives from different parties at Stormont for a roundtable discussion.

Amongst the overseas guests for the visit included the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, the chair and chief executive of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the chief executive and UK Delegate of the World Zionist Organisation, the chief executive of Limmud, UK representative of the  Jewish Agency and the President of the Jewish Representative Council of the Republic of Ireland.

The ambassador of Israel, His Excellency Mark Regev, was amongst the speakers at an evening gala event at a packed Great Hall in Stormont. The host was Peter Weir MLA. The attendance included members of the Westminster Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, Belfast city council and senior representatives of the major church denominations.

There were performances of Israeli and Irish music and various videos illustrated the illustrious life of President Herzog.

A presentation was made to Isaac Herzog on behalf of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem Ireland branch to mark the partnership between the ICEJ and the Jewish Agency in supporting Aliyah.

Isaac Herzog at Stormont.png


Isaac Herzog speaking at Stormont gala event

After Belfast the party travelled to Dublin and London for further events and receptions to celebrate the Herzog centenary.

Northern Ireland Friends of Israel would like to thank the following organisations for their support: Belfast Jewish community, Northern Ireland Assembly, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council, World Zionist Organisation, Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, Jewish Agency, Christian friends.




From Jerusalem to Belfast – Fleur Hassan visits Northern Ireland

Have you ever visited Jerusalem or wanted to visit it?

A Biblical city, prayed for and cherished by billions,  with modern challenges and needs.

Jerusalem city councillor and leader of the opposition, Fleur Hassan Nahoum visited Belfast as a guest of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel.

Fleur and deputy mayor Emmet

Fleur spoke to a large audience of NIFI supporters, paid a courtesy visit to the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, and met with elected representatives at Stormont, including DUP Party leader, Arlene Foster MLA, William Humphrey MLA; Ulster Unionist Steve Aiken MLA; and Alliance MLA John Blair in his first week in post.

Fleur me Arlene William

Positive conversations included challenges of shared public space, integration, tourism and Jerusalem’s experience in hi tech with the Made in Jerusalem initiative.

Fleur Sgteve Aiken me

Fleur and John Blair MLA sTORMONT

Fleur also met with Israeli and Palestinian visitors from Women Wage Peace who happened to be staying at the same hotel!


Fleur was visiting the UK and Ireland on a visit sponsored by the Zionist Federation of the UK and Ireland.

Can you help? A Northern Ireland man missing in Israel

oliver mcafee

A Northern Irishman, Ollie McAfee, has gone missing in Israel on a cycling holiday. He was last seen towards the end of November, near Mitzpe Ramon, in the Negev desert.

Ollie’s family and friends are concerned and very keen to know he is safe and well.

Israeli police, UK embassy and Negev search teams  are asking people to circulate his photo and asking for info.

If you have seen Ollie or know where he might be please contact the Har Hanegev Rescue Team:

Nimrod 050 328 9961 or Meidad 052 368 9608

Please share this post or contact the Facebook page:
Missing: Ollie McAfee in Israel

Thank you

Balfour centenary celebrated at Stormont

Balfour Stormont Nov 17The Great Hall, Stormont, was packed to capacity to mark a hundred years since the Balfour Declaration – one of the significant centenary anniversaries associated with the Great War, and an important milestone towards the establishment of the state of Israel.

Named after the then Foreign secretary, Lord Balfour, the declaration gave the support of the British government to the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in its ancestral homeland.

It was welcomed as an act of justice and restoration to an exiled and persecuted people.

Over 200 attended the commemoration including members of the House of Lords, Commons and Northern Ireland Assembly.

Balfour centenary speakers and vips


Speakers included the deputy ambassador of Israel, Sharon Bar Li.

Israeli songs were performed by London-based singer songwriter, Tally Koren.

Balfour Stormont Tally Nov 17


The event was organised jointly between the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel and the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.

Speakers included historian Roy Thurley, David Parsons, vice president of ICEJ and Rabbi David Singer of the Belfast Jewish community.

(Photos George Pennock   www.georgepennock.com  )

trevor Lunn Balfour 100 Stormont Nov 17





Never Again

Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day  in Israel. A young Israeli woman, Emily Cohen, who has an Ulster Mum, Laura, walks along the perimeter fence at Auschwitz.

Emily Cohen Auschwitz

and learns the stories of those murdered there.

Emily Cohen and friend Auschwitz

Why we are friends of Israel



Meet the Israelis – 8 million people.



Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East. Don’t take our word for it. The much-respected monitor of political rights around the world, Freedom House, ranks it far and away the most democratic and free nation in the region.freedom-house-2016


We wish every state in the Middle East came close to matching Israel’s democratic  values. Israel boasts a free and critical press, independent courts and an effective trade union movement which has secured rights for its workers.

Israel is the only Jewish state on this earth – meaning it is the place where the Jewish people have exercised their right to self determination.

This doesn’t make it a theocracy or a state for Jews only. Its Christian, Muslim and secular citizens enjoy full political rights. Freedom of worship exists for all. While being a haven for Jewish Holocaust survivors, victims of Soviet persecution and almost a million Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab lands, Israel is the only country in the Middle East with safe and growing Muslim and Christian minorities.

Israel is the only member-state of the UN which is threatened with annihilation by its neighbours. Invaded on numerous occasions, it is surrounded today by Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic State, Al Qaeda, the Syrian regime and its Jihadist opposition, all of which are pledged to destroy it. And then there is Iran…

In the context of today’s volatile and repressive Middle East Israel stands out as a beacon for stability and democratic values. It is an  important ally and friend in an increasingly dangerous and fractured world.

Israel is only one half of one per cent of the land mass of the Middle East, about the size of Wales. Yet it has made territorial compromises in the interests of peace. According to President Bill Clinton: “Israel offered more than I expected it would or indeed I believed it should” to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Sadly Yasser Arafat walked away from the negotiating table.


Israel is a modern, hi tech power house – at the cutting edge of medical and technological breakthroughs – the most recent being an Israeli-developed early detection of HIV. One in six drugs dispensed by the NHS is either developed or manufactured in Israel. Cyber security, instant messaging, the latest mobile phone technology all owe much to Israeli innovation.

At the same time Israel is an ancient and Biblical land which remains a spiritual power house and a place of pilgrimage. For Christians in particular, the land of Israel has been described as “the Fifth gospel”, where  pilgrims can walk where Jesus walked. The beautiful and varied landscape – from the Galilee to the Negev desert, from the holy city of Jerusalem to Mount Carmel and the Dead Sea –  bring the narrative of the Bible to life.


There are many in Belfast who advocate boycotting Israel. Recent years have seen Israeli workers harassed at Castlecourt, the Israeli flag burnt at city hall, a call for a Leonard Cohen concert at the Waterfront to be called off because the Jewish singer was also performing in Tel Aviv. Does anyone believe that extremist actions like these advance the cause of peace in the Middle East or make our own society in Northern Ireland more respectful and tolerant?


Or calling for Israeli school children to be banned from educational exchanges on the grounds of their nationality?

We would like to point readers to more positive ways that Northern Ireland is engaging with the  Middle East. Intercomm is sending our young people to the region to meet both Israelis and Palestinians, an organisation called Forward Thinking has hosted Arabs and Jews to meet our politicians and church leaders, and experts here in shared and integrated education are using their expertise to assist Jewish and Arab educationalists to raise children without hate.

People have a choice. They can demonise one side and indulge in negative and divisive boycotts. Or they can take part in the serious business of assisting dialogue and peace-building on the ground.


Northern Ireland Friends of Israel are proud to be friends of Israel and friends of Peace. To join our mailing list please contact us at nifriendsofisrael@ymail.com and like us on Facebook.

“Anti racists” demand their right to discriminate

People Before Profit want the right to flout anti-discrimination laws when it suits them.


(Photo = burning Israeli flag outside Belfast city hall,  at Trade Union protest, 2009)

They want Belfast City council to discriminate against Israeli Jews because of their nationality – even though legislation rightly prevents local authorities from discriminating against people because of their faith, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.

They would rightly decry a council resolution discriminating against anyone else on this planet on the grounds of their nationality or religion – except Israeli Jews.

Insert the words Chinese, Turks or Pakistanis in their resolution and not a single Councillor would support it.

But a right to discriminate against Israeli Jews is the cause of a protest by “anti racists” at Belfast city hall.


Antisemitism exposed and condemned

William Humphrey, MLA for North Belfast raises issues of anti-Jewish racism in Northern Ireland.

Speech from the NI Assembly Race Debate, highlighting anti-Semitism –Tuesday 11th Oct 2016.


Mr Humphrey:

The Belfast Jewish community continues to make an important and valued contribution to the life blood of Belfast.

At sunset tonight, Jews across the globe will celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Across Europe, synagogues will have armed guards because of the risk of attack on those places of worship. In the past few years, deadly attacks on kosher shops in Paris, a synagogue in Copenhagen and a Jewish museum in Brussels have occurred.

In the United Kingdom, Jewish schools have guards and bombproof windows. The Community Security Trust, members of which I met some months ago, has produced the following statistics: in 2014, there were 1,179 anti-Semitic attacks in the United Kingdom; last year, there were 924 similar attacks. There have been anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish Members of Parliament Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger.

Anti-Semitic racism is the oldest type of racism that exists. Sadly, it is not just on the European continent, and is not just on the mainland of our United Kingdom.

The synagogue is in my constituency, and Members will be aware of Rabbi David Singer speaking very recently of the evil anti-Semitic phone calls and emails that he, as the pastoral leader of the old and established Belfast Jewish community, has been receiving. The graffiti recently daubed on the synagogue and in Belfast city centre was absolutely sickening and harked back to the 1930s and Nazi Germany.

Sadly, these attacks followed the removal of the Chaim Herzog plaque from a building on Cliftonpark Avenue. The plaque was removed for its protection. There was an attack on a mural in Northumberland Street that praised an Ulsterman who worked with the Israeli defence forces. Also, in August of this year, in an awful and evil attack on the Jewish sector of Belfast City Cemetery, 13 headstones were damaged by a mob carrying bricks, rocks and hammers.

Having spoken to the rabbi on two occasions, having met, along with the Belfast Lord Mayor, the Belfast Jewish Council in the City Hall, and visited the synagogue recently, I have to say that the Jewish community in this city is very fearful of attack.

The debate that took place in the Guildhall, Londonderry last week was mentioned. Without question, parties who voted for that motion have to take responsibility for raising anti-Jewish tensions in Northern Ireland. I have spoken to members of the Jewish community who have told me that that is exactly the case. They are friends of mine, and I know it to be true. In making good the damage at Belfast City Cemetery, I have met the director of parks for Belfast City Council and the local police in north Belfast. I have invited the Chief Constable to visit the synagogue. I have invited the First Minister of Northern Ireland to join me

— Mr Stalford: Will the Member give way?

Mr Humphrey: I will surely.

Mr Stalford: Does the Member agree that the disgusting attack in the City Cemetery was merely the culmination of a campaign directed against the Jewish community in Belfast that goes back a long way? We have not only kids from Israel working on the Dead Sea products stall in Castle Court being attacked but products being torn off supermarket shelves because they come from Israel. 

Mr Humphrey: The Member is quite right: people take part in so-called pro-Palestinian rallies, but they turn out to be anti-Israel rallies. I am not here to speak about the whats, wherefores and “whataboutery” of Israel; I am talking about the indigenous Jewish community in this city.

As I mentioned, tonight is Yom Kippur: the Day of Atonement. The evil people who took part in the attack in the City Cemetery, daubed graffiti on the synagogue and sent threatening emails to members of the Jewish community, including the rabbi, need to atone for their evil actions across not just Europe but this United Kingdom. We must stamp out anti-Semitism.

I and my party will continue to stand firm in support of Belfast’s small but growing Jewish community. They have provided so much to this city’s cultural, political and, most importantly, commercial life, and they continue to do so. The Jewish community is valued in this city. I am greatly privileged to represent the Jewish community in North Belfast, where the synagogue is placed, and I regularly visit there. The attack is a sad reflection on the city. This city, nationally and internationally, was damaged reputationally by that vile and evil attack in the City Cemetery.

Such actions have to be condemned across the House. I am glad that they were.

(extracted from Hansard)