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  )

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 and like us on Facebook.