Israel News in Northern Ireland

Meeting with Isaac Herzog MK

NIFI’s London-based co chair, Steven Jaffe, met Isaac Herzog MK, leader of the opposition in the Israeli Parliament. They discussed next year’s centenary of the birth of Isaac’s father,  President of Israel, Chaim Herzog, who was born in Belfast in September 1918.

Steven also met the deputy ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Israel, Tim Reilly,  and former Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, during his visit. Photo shows Steven with Isaac Herzog MK (centre) and Itzchak Sonnenshtein of the World Zionist Organisation to Isaac’s right.

At the Pictures

Jewish Israel film festival

The Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast showcased the best of Israeli cinema, in association with UK Jewish Film and the Belfast Jewish community’s Jews Schmooze initiative. Packed houses watched the light hearted documentary, Hummus the Movie, and the serious Holocaust thriller, Past Life. Also showing were the raucous comedy, Hebrew Hammer, and the more introspective, A Quiet Heart.

The successful mini-season was supported by the Embassy of Israel, London. Dr Katy Radford MBE, of the Institute of Conflict Research, chaired post-show discussions with Israeli film director, Oren Rosenfeld, and with local cultural figures.

A spiritual leader of Israel whose  journey began in Belfast

rabbi isaac herzog stormy days biography

The Irish embassy in Israel hosted the publication launch of a newly-translated biography of Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog. Herzog was rabbi in Belfast during the First World War and became chief rabbi of the Irish Free State and then chief rabbi of Israel – one of the most senior positions in the Jewish world.

The book, entitled  The Rabbinate in stormy days covers Rabbi Herzog’s experience of political unrest in Ireland and in pre-state Israel.

You can watch the launch event here – speakers include the Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Israel, Alison Kelly,  and Isaac Herzog MK, the chief rabbi’s grandson and leader of the Opposition in the Israeli parliament.



Balfour centenary celebrated at Stormont

Balfour Stormont Nov 17

A capacity audience at the Great Hall Stormont enjoyed Israeli songs – performed by  singer-songwriter Tally Koren,  and a variety of presentations to mark 100 years since the Balfour declaration – an important milestone towards the State of Israel. Members of the House of Lords, Commons and Northern Ireland Assembly were among the audience.

Guest of honour was the deputy ambassador of Israel, Sharon Bar-Li. The event was organised by Northern Ireland Friends of Israel and the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem Ireland branch.

Balfour centenary speakers and vips


Sharing society

The development director of the Abraham Fund, which promotes sharing and equality  between Jew and Arab in Israel, found his visit to Northern Ireland “inspirational” – in particular, visiting schools. You can read Anton Goodman’s reflections here:

Speaking in Church

simon barrett

Christian broadcaster, Simon Barrett, spoke to large Church gatherings in Bangor and Carryduff on his stand with Israel. Simon presents the Middle East report on Revelation TV. During his visit – Simon’s first to Northern Ireland –  he interviewed two Christian leaders, Brian Silvester and Ivor McClinton on why they stand with Israel:—ivor-mcclinton-and-brian-silvester566967

Simon Barrett Carryduff crowd sep 2017

Photo: Packed church to hear Simon Barrett of Revelation TV.

Bangor West Simon Barrett Mayor Ivor sep 17


Israel Snookered

Northern Ireland and Israel were paired together in group D of the Snooker World Cup played in China. Northern Ireland won out  3 frames to 2, represented by Mark Allen and Joe Swail. Israel’s players were Shachav Ruberg and Scottish-Israeli professional, Eden Sharav who has played previously in the Northern Ireland snooker open.

Welcome visitor

Very welcome visitor to Northern Ireland, senior adviser in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, Tomer Ashwal, meets Christopher Stalford MLA today in Belfast.

Likud belfast chris stalford 2017


3000th Friend

Congratulations to Aryeh from Israel for being the 3000th person to like Northern Ireland Friends of Israel on Facebook – building bridges between Northern Ireland and Israel!

Reflections from Israel

Belfast Church of Ireland clergyman, Rev Paul Jack, shares his reflections  following a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2016, with the Anglo-Israel Association together with other Christian leaders. Rev Paul left the region profoundly changed and his deepest prayer is that: “the Israeli and Palestinian people will take the brave and incremental steps towards the peace, new relationships and prosperity they all deserve” .

You can read Rev Paul Jack’s blog from the website of the Anglo Israel Association here: Israel association visit 2017


Israeli visitors in Belfast

rabbis stormont 2017 forward thinking

A group of leading rabbis from Israel visited Belfast as guests of the think tank, Forward Thinking. Brr. It looks cold and wet at Stormont . The rabbis met a number of religious leaders and engaged in warm and cordial conversations.

Class act – the Voice from Israel

Lina Makhoul

Israeli Palestinian American and international song writer and performer – perhaps that’s only one way of describing Lina Makhul, winner – by popular vote – of the Israeli TV talent competition The Voice. Born in the States to a Palestinian Christian family, and resident in Acco, Israel, hyper-talented Lina performed two nights in Belfast at the SSE Arena as support act for the British girl band, Little Mix.

March of Life in Belfast

March of Life Belfast April 2017

Yom Hashoah – Holocaust day in the Jewish calendar was marked by a march in central Belfast which started at the Jaffe fountain at the Victoria Shopping centre and made its way to City Hall displaying the flags of many nations. The march is designed to raise awareness of the Holocaust and alert people to the contemporary surge of racism including Jew hatred.

March of Life Belfast April 2017 Pacemaker

 Large Church gatherings in support of Israel

Over 250 people attended events in support of Israel and the Jewish people at Congregational Church Abbots Cross Newtownabbey and Larne Mission Hall. Speakers were London-based NIFI Co chair Steven Jaffe and NIFI supporter Ivan Laybourne. In Newtownabbey Pastor Trevor Gillanders welcomed Steven and Ivan  and spoke of the Church’s Biblical appreciation of Israel.

Larne Mission hall March 2017 with elders

Steven and Ivan with the elders of Larne Mission Hall.

Young Israeli visitors to N Ireland

Between 20th – 25th April, the London-based think tank Forward Thinking facilitated a series of meetings in Dublin, Belfast and London for a delegation of young activists and political advisors from the Israeli Labour party. This visit was organised as part of the Irish Peace Process Programme, an initiative which brings delegations from key constituencies in Israel to Belfast and Dublin to discuss experiences of the conflict and the subsequent peace process.

Across five days, the delegation held intensive discussions with a number of groups, including representatives from a cross-section of political parties in Northern Ireland, young party activists, academics, former paramilitaries, civil servants and representatives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Viewing Jerusalem in central London – Colin Davidson exhibition

Davidson Jerusalem

A peer,  Northern Ireland MPs and Jewish community leaders and professionals  gathered to view the exhibition by  Ulster artist, Colin Davidson, at the Fitzroy Gallery in London. Davidson has drawn 12 large portraits of Jerusalemites from diverse backgrounds. Curator Oliver Sears explained the exhibition. The gathering was organised by Steven Jaffe, NIFI’s London-based co chair who is a consultant to the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Davidson Jerusalem viewing Mar 17

Davidson Jerusalem viewing March 2017

Sharing Educational experience between Northern Ireland and Israel


Experts in Shared Education from Queen’s University Belfast have visited Israel to explore potential collaboration. The Belfast team met educationalists from various institutions and observed a science lesson conducted in Arabic at a Jewish school at Ganei Tikvah. Contacts between Queen’s and Israel on the subject of Shared Education are over four years old and were pioneered by Professor Tony Gallagher.

United nations stand with Israel at Ulster Hall

Representatives of the nations of the world took to the stage at the Ulster Hall in Belfast this week as the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem held a Taste of Tabernacles event in front of a packed house of approximately 800 people. The evening was one of colour, music and worship as the audience got a glimpse of the celebration of the Biblical feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.

ICEJ Israel flag 2017 Ulster Hall

Deep in thought

singer icej worship band

We pay tribute to the wonderful Worship band who lead and perform with energy, passion  and commitment at the Taste of Tabernacles events in Belfast and in Co Wicklow organised by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.


icej band key board player

 Shoah victims honoured at Bangor West


Over 300 packed Bangor West Presbyterian church for a Shoah memorial service. Guest speaker was Pastor Werner Oder, an Austrian by birth and son of a leading SS officer. Werner’s father not only murdered Jews but trained others to do so. Werner has dedicated much of his career to raising Shoah awareness. NIFI’s president Gerald Steinberg attended the event alongside Co chairs of Belfast CCJ, Bishop Trainor and Rev Ken Newell and representatives of the Belfast Jewish community. NIFI was proud to help sponsor the event organised by friend Ivor McClinton.


Millisle Remembered

For Holocaust Memorial Day 2017, NIFI’s co chair, London-based Steven Jaffe, was asked to discuss the Refugee settlement farm in Millisle, Co Down on NVTV, Belfast’s local TV station. Steven’s interest in the farm was sparked by photographs he was given as a student. You can watch the programme here:

Millisle - boys

Photo: Dreamers of Zion – members of the Zionist youth group Bachad who trained as farmers at Millisle.

Faces of Jerusalem

colin davidson jerusalem

Congratulations to Ulster-based artist, Colin Davidson, whose epic work Jerusalem is being exhibited for the first time in London. The 12 large-scale portraits of individuals living and working in Jerusalem will be displayed at 33 Fitzroy Square from March 9 to 28. The portraits illustrate the diversity and shared human face of the city’s inhabitants.

Mazal Tov- congratulations to Thompson International Tours
on its 25th anniversary. The Portadown-based company, which boasts decades of experience of arranging Holy Land tours, has recently returned from a celebratory Leaders tour of the Biblical sites in Galilee and Jerusalem. For more information, click on the link here

ICEJ gather for 8th annual conference


The Irish branch of International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem enjoyed a wonderful Conference recently with speakers Christine Darg, Robert Baxter and Edwin Michael. Delegates from Northern Ireland and the Republic looked at the different aspects of Christians being “Watchmen on the Walls” of Jerusalem.

Honoured by Israel, remembered in Derry – a heroine of the Holocaust.

Londonderry women remember their Aunt who died in Auschwitz alongside Jewish children in her care. Jane Haining was posthumously named as Righteous Among the Nations at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem in 1997.


Visiting Israel with a disability

A group from Northern Ireland visited Israel over Christmas with a particular challenge. Can you tour Israel in a wheelchair and with one of the party needing regular dialysis? With preparation you can see everything from the Golan Heights to Jerusalem and Jaffa – says a determined tour leader Colin Nevin.
Colin visited renal clinics located in hospitals and even a rural kibbutz to enable him to enjoy an inspiring visit to the Promised land. Colin says: ” for kidney patients Israeli hospitals and private clinics offer a high standard of dialysis that can be booked through your local hospital in Northern Ireland. The thing I have learned is that having an illness or disability need not debar one from visiting Israel”.