NIFI in the news
Since our launch in March 2009, NIFI has featured prominently in the local media and the Israeli and Jewish press.
Out of a brutal tragedy came an expression of solidarity and love. The Belfast Newsletter published a photograph and report of the gathering at City Hall by approximately 70 Northern Ireland Friends of Israel supporters who came to light candles, recite Psalms and extend their deep condolences to the families of the murdered boys. The Belfast Telegraph and Newsletter also published a statement by NIFI thanking people in Northern Ireland who had prayed for the boys’ release and otherwise offered support.
NIFI’s London-based co chair, Steven Jaffe, appeared on Revelation TV’s Middle East Report to bring to the viewers’ attention the on-going plight of the three abducted Israeli teenagers and their families.
A taste of Israel: the Belfast Newsletter noted NIFI’s co chair, Steven Jaffe, represented the Jewish community of the UK at the event at the Ulster Hall organised by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, attended by over 500 people.
NIFI’s co chair Andrew Shaw explained in the Irish News why he was pro Israeli, pro Palestinian and pro Peace.
NIFI in February’s Belfast Newsletter: “It is strange that those advocating boycotts of Israel are silent about other countries in the Middle East with deplorable human rights records and no academic freedom. Could the urge to isolate Israel by leftist academics be anything to do with the fact that it is a flourishing democracy allied to the west?” NIFI also co-signed the following letter along with Jewish and pro Israel groups:
In November the visit of Israeli students to Belfast featured prominently in the Belfast Telegraph, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Tribune. Both Jewish papers are published in London.
NIFI’s progress is regularly featured in the Belfast Jewish Record, the community magazine of the Belfast Jewish community. However, we were chuffed to feature in the Rosh Hashana edition of Gesher Magazine, an excellent publication of the Hale Jewish community in South Manchester, who were keen to know about what we do. And our work also features in the Chanuka edition of Wessex Jewish News serving the Jewish community in Bournemouth, Dorset and surrounding counties.
NIFI initiatives, including the campaign against the Co-op boycott and the visit to Northern Ireland of two Israeli students, received positive coverage in the London Jewish Chronicle.
Newry and Mourne councillor to meet Northern Ireland Friends of Israel – reported on in the London Jewish Chroniclefollowing the withdrawal of an Israel boycott resolution.
Revelation TVs “Behind the Headlines” this week featured NIFI co chair, Steven Jaffe, live at the Revelation TV studios in South London. The topics discussed included the breaking news of carnage on the streets of Cairo, the rise of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe and why the Greenbelt Christian festival at Cheltenham focuses obsessively and negatively on Israel. Steven was joined on the show by Pastor Werner Oder of Bournemouth who, as the son of an SS officer, fights neo Nazism and anti-Semitism.
“Out to Lunch” – NIFI’s co chair, Steven Jaffe, found himself reviewing East Belfast’s Happy Angel restaurant in the company of Joris Minne of the Belfast Telegraph. In addition to enjoying his green salad our co chair held forth on the subjects of boycotts of Israeli students and the right to self-determination. Joris seemed to enjoy Steven’s “combative charm” and chose the Nasi Goring (a rice stir fry dish from Indonesia in case you’re wondering!)
NIFI was quoted in the London Jewish Chronicle and Manchester Jewish Telegraph on the issue of NIPSA’s conference resolution condemning Israel for a law that doesn’t exist. NIFI welcomed the withdrawal of the resolution and hoped for positive engagement with trade unions in Northern Ireland “which have a lot to offer the cause of peace in the Middle east”.
The launch of a Holocaust educational programme in Coleraine received input from the Belfast Jewish community, with NIFI co chair Steven Jaffe joining Rabbi David Singer of the Belfast Jewish community and Dr Leon Litvack of Queen’s university – press statement from the organisers here:
The launch event featured in the Manchester Jewish Telegraph in a story entitled: “Spotlight on wartime anti-Semitism”.
“Belfast seder warms up Israelis for World Cup win!” was headlines in the Jewish Community Chronicle. NIFI co chair Steven Jaffe was disappointed the match was played on the second day of Passover as it meant he was unable to come over from london for the game. Asked if there had been any protests, Steven replied the biggest thing the Israelis had to contend with was “the extremely cold weather.” NIFI was also mentioned in a feature in the sports section of the Manchester Jewish Telegraph.
In November 2012, Belfast-born NIFI supporter, Malcolm Jaffa, takes Belfast Telegraph columnist to task: dialogue, not demonisation, the only way forward:
Shana tova – Happy New Year! NIFI co chair Steven Jaffe partnered fellow Northern Irishman Robin Benson on a TV special on the Jewish New Year, hosted by Revelation TV. Steven returned to the Revelation channel in December for an “end of the year” review programme regarding Israel, hosted by Simon Barratt.
The Manchester Jewish Telegraph featured NIFI in its account of the campaign for restoring balance and fairness to the Co op. Over a thousand people in Northern Ireland signed the petition calling on the Co op to drop its boycott and increase engagement between Israeli and Palestinian co operatives..
In June, Revelation TV focused on the Co op boycott. Contributors included NIFI Co chair, Steven Jaffe.
In May, NIFI co chair, Steven Jaffe, told Belfast Telegraph readers Boycotting Israel was “as kosher as a bacon sandwich”, in an opinion piece responding to veteran boycotter, Eamonn McCann.
Independence Day celebrations in Belfast, attended by over 100 people, was the subject of a very positive write up in the London Jewish Chronicle, which noted the party was part sponsored by NIFI and the Belfast Jewish community.
The Newtownabbey Times featured a NIFI event at The Mill, when over 170 attended a film and presentation on the Forgotten Refugees: Jews from Arab lands
The Forgotten Refugees event was also covered in the Jewish Chronicle.
The Jewish Chronicle hailed the demo for Israel at the Ulster Hall on 12 March as “probably the largest gathering for Israel ever held in Northern Ireland“. NIFI praised the vision of the International Christian Embassy, Irish branch, for promoting the event and the warmth of the support.
“Tony, its not all the fault of Israel” was the headline on the Irish News letterpage in March, as NIFI weighed in on correspondence regarding the Jewish state.
Ireland’s Sunday Times featured NIFI on the itinerary of Faces of Israel, a group of Israelis from diverse backgrounds who were visiting Ireland. The group visited community groups in Dublin and Cork and came to Belfast as the guests of NIFI, visiting political representatives at Stormont and community leaders at an event kindly hosted by East Belfast Mission.
November saw NIFI co chair Steven Jaffe say in no uncertain terms to the London Jewish News that he was as sick as a Tuki (a Parrot) at news Northern Ireland’s World Cup fixture against Israel in Belfast was scheduled for the second night of the Festival of Passover. This means Israel supporters living in the UK will be experiencing a night of miracle and wonders at home, reciting the story of the exodus from Egypt, rather than watching them at Windsor Park.
In October NIFI’s statement on the release of Gilad Shalit was taken up by the Newsletter (“World is astounded by Israel again”)
and the Belfast Telegraph (“Everyone should welcome Gilad’s release”). http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/everyone-should-welcome-gilad-shalits-release-16066322.html
NIFI saluted those who had kept Gilad in their prayers during his 5 year captivity and all of Northern Ireland’s sitting MPs who called for his release. We also set out the concerns many Israelis have at the high price which Israel paid.
NIFI featured in the Jewish Chronicle in October 2011 when CEO of the Equality Commission, Evelyn Collins, explained the twinning with the organiusation’s Israeli counterpart, at a NIFI organised meeting with UK Jewish community leaders.
The County Down Spectator ran a report and photograph of Bangor man Colin Nevin’s appearance as speaker at a NIFI summer reception. Colin spoke of his experiences of living and working in Israel. The event also featured in the Jewish Chronicle. You can read a report of the event on the Impala blog here: http://www.impalapublications.com/blog/index.php?/archives/6307-Colin-Nevin-talk,-by-James-OFee.html
The satellite tv station, Revelation TV, featured NIFI’s London-based co chair, Steven Jaffe, in its Middle East Report briefing. Steven was interviewed alongside Robin Benson of Christian Friends of Israel on the subject of Jews and Christians standing together in solidarity against efforts to demonise Israel. Steven and Robin were invited back onto the channel to take part in a live discussion about the imminent vote on Palestinian statehood.
NIFI was front page news in the Ballymena Guardian in June, which featured the visit of Michael Brodsky of the Israeli embassy to the town. Local MP, Ian Paisley Junior, and North Antrim MLAs attended the event. The event, attended by over 100 people, was also previewed in the Ballymena Timesin May.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, the UK Jewish community’s largest newspaper, NIFI is amongst the most successful and fastest growing Israel advocacy groups in the UK. Read all about it here!
“Reflecting on Ulster’s proud Jewish heritage” was the Newsletter headline for an interview with NIFI President, Gerald Steinberg (April 2011). Gerald regards NIFI as an expression of both sides of his heritage, Northern Irish and Jewish.
Division over Moyle council twinning with the Hamas-dominated Gaza municipal council drew attention towards the despotic nature of the regime in Gaza, with a flurry of letters in the Irish News, and coverage in all the local papers. NIFI was quoted in the Northern Ireland and Jewish press over this matter, which continued causing division and controversy at various points in 2011 and 2012. In August 2011, the Irish News pointed out, in the context of the twinning, that the Hamas leader in Gaza hailed Osama Bin-Laden as a “holy Islamic warrior.”
Ambassador Ron Prosor’s visit to Belfast in April was covered by the Belfast Telegraph and Jewish Chronicle (see homepage). The Newsletter covered the NIFI event for the Ambassador at the Stormont hotel. The London Metro, distributed free to hundreds of thousands of commuters in the capital, picked up on the Ambassador’s invitation to the Queen to visit Israel which the ambassador issued at NIFI’s Belfast meeting, courtesy of a letter by Colin Nevin. NIFI’s Terry McCorran told the Jewish Chronicle:“The evening with the ambassador was a huge success. The fact that the ambassador came back to Northern Ireland before he leaves for the UN shows what high regard he has for Northern Ireland and for NIFI.”
In March 2011, Queen’s University was again in the headlines, with the Jewish Chronicle reporting on “Israeli lecturer attacked by Belfast pro-Palestine activists”. NIFI was quoted as saying: “The situation on campus is extremely menacing for any speaker or student who is brave enough to be supportive of Israel”. Belfast Telegraph columnist, Lindy McDowell, questioned the comparative silence of the academic community over the incident. Also in March, the Newsletter quoted NIFI president, Gerald Steinberg, who said it was “remarkable and disrespectful” of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s not to respond to complaints regarding “imbalance” at a public event regarding Israel.
“Friends of Israel make the case for a Jewish state” was the headlines in the Coleraine Times in March 2011. The paper reported on the NIFI Case for Israel event in the town which was attended by, amongst others, the local MP Gregory Campbell and deputy mayor Samuel Cole.
Kibbutz centenary celebration was the subject of an op ed in the Belfast Telegraph by London-based co chair, Steven Jaffe
In February 2011, NIFI received a mention in the Jerusalem Post,which published “A word of advice from Northern Ireland”, written by North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds. The group has also featured in the Jerusalem Post Christian edition.
In October, headlines and columns were devoted to the Belfast Festival’s disgraceful late disinvitation of Professor Geoffrey Alderman from its unbalanced Conflict in the Middle East event. The Belfast Telegraph story was the most clicked on item on the website that day! The story featured in the Jewish press and on websites and blogs internationally. NIFI’s role in challenging the Festival authorities received a huge amount of attention and Prof Alderman gave radio interviews in Northern Ireland and England. Here the Belfast Telegraph reports on the apology eventually given to Professor Alderman by the University:
The visit to Londonderry in August by NIFI’s London-based co chair, Steven Jaffe, was the subject of a lead opinion column in the Jewish Chronicle:
NIFI’s reception to welcome the Anne Frank exhibition to Mossley Mill in July, attended by over 270 people, was previewed in the Belfast Newsletter and was the subject of two pages of photographs and review in the Newtownabbey Times. The Jewish Chronicle in London also covered the event.
A report in the popular blog Alan in Belfast can be read here:
Gilad Shalit, Israel’s soldier held as a hostage in Gaza, is not forgotten. In August 2010, the County Down Spectatorgave coverage to songwriter Jim Clint’s moving song for Gilad and pointed out that Jim has performed to over 500 people at two recent NIFI events.
The very regrettable loss of life in the Gaza flotilla incident gave rise to a wave of inaccurate anti-Israel reporting in the local press (see our statement on the home page for three specific examples of “media facts” which are very far from the truth). However, alternative perspectives did break through. NIFI supporter Alex Benjamin gave his personal view in an article in the Belfast Telegraph:
while Jeffrey Donaldson MP, who has given strong support for NIFI, spoke out on BBC Northern Ireland against attempts to depict Hamas as a democratic organisation. Lead columnist Lindy McDowell also asked the question “Why do Peace Activists ignore the violence of Hamas?”
Thank you to all who put pen to paper writing letters to the newspapers on this issue – “Damned if she does, dead if she doesn’t” was a memorable headline in the Belfast Telegraph letter pages.
Our protest meeting against the Boycott featured in the Jewish Chronicle on 5 March, with both NIFI co chairmen being quoted about this historic stand against the Boycott – the paper noted that over 200 attended our event and described the strength of feeling on the issue. The same paper also published a report and photograph of NIFI’s lecture on Anti-Semitism by Anthony Julius which was attended by over 280 people.
In January 2010 there was a flurry of letters concerning NIFI in the Belfast Telegraph. We challenged Amnesty International over its support for flawed legal procedures in the UK which, in our opinion, are being abused to arrest visiting Israelis.
Amnesty, in response, made very serious and unfounded allegations about NIFI, that we were “defending war crimes”, which they retracted immediately when challenged. The story, which is important in the context of Amnesty’s all too often “condemn first, find out the facts later” approach to Israel, was taken up by the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish News in London:
In fact, it was the subject of that week’s editorial in the Jewish News:
The story was also taken up by Jewish press agencies in Europe.
We were delighted that NIFI’s work was featured in a two page article in the magazine of ESRA. ESRA is the English Speaking Residents Association of Israel and the magazine goes to over 20,000 Israeli homes. The author, Belfast born Israeli Barbara Abraham (nee Black) refers to NIFI as “friends indeed”
The Irish Times on 21 November referred to NIFI’s work in an article on the future of Belfast’s Jewish community:
NIFI’s very successful football auction for cross community sport in Northern Ireland and Israel was picked up in the Newsletter, Manchester Jewish Telegraph and London Jewish News – “NIFI raise over £1,000” was the headline in the Jewish News.
Unfortunately, it was a sad reason that saw NIFI referred to widely in the national and international press in November. News reports and obituaries to our late founding president, Lord Steinberg, in the Independent, Daily Telegraph, Belfast Telegraph, Newsletter, Jewish Chronicle, London Jewish News and Jerusalem Post all mentioned his support for NIFI and his presiding at our launch meeting in March. Sadly, not all news is good news.
Diane Dodds MEP pledged to strengthen relations between Northern Ireland and Israel in a column published by the London Jewish News. Diane has been appointed the only UK member on the EU Parliament’s influential Israel delegation. Click the link to see why Diane is “Standing up for Israel as a Northern Irish MEP”.
The Jewish News in London provided a magnificent two pages of coverage of the events organised by NIFI around the Israel football match in Belfast (12 Aug 2009). NIFI presentations to the Israeli flag footballers visiting Belfast was featured in both the Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News in September.
On 28 July, co chair Terry McCorran explained why he’s committed to NIFI in an opinion piece published in the Newsletter and the London Jewish News – a version of the article is on our website and can be read on the home page: “Friend of Israel, friend of Palestine, friend of Peace”.
In the Belfast Telegraph we set out our aims and commented on Gerry Adams’s meeting with Hamas:
We were delighted when the Jerusalem Post gave full coverage to our launch:
The London-based Jewish Chronicle also featured us in its report of ambassador Prosor’s visit to Belfast.
London Jewish News publicise Glentoran supporters gift for cross community sport in NI and Israel: