On Sunday 2nd June 2013, the UK Jewish and pro-Israel community celebrated the 65th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, at the Closer to Israel parade and celebration in Central London, successfully initiated by the JLC. Chair of JLC Trustees Mick Davis noted that the event highlighted the special nature of the “bilateral relationship that exists between the UK and Israel”.
Thousands of people, representing the diversity of British society, were joined by onlookers and supporters at the event, which featured performances by the Israeli Eurovision finalist Harel Skaat and entertainment throughout the parade, as well as guest speakers including the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub. Taub commented that Closer to Israel provided “a chance to pay tribute to all those here in Britain who have helped us along the way”, by showing thanks for their belief and investment and all round support towards Israel. A number of activities including arts and crafts, in addition to falafel and the other traditional Israeli and Jewish foods on offer kept the crowds entertained.
The enthusiasm and significant turnout was representative of the ongoing thriving efforts of the JLC in bringing together Jewish communal organisations in portraying the importance of the UK’s continual support for Israel. Closer to Israel reinforced the importance of Jewish communities around the world standing with Israel in times of suffering and against its enemies and their views. Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove stated that “it’s so important that all those of us who are friends of democracy, freedom and Israel, take the opportunity wherever it is given to stand up and say ‘Israel has achieved amazing things.’ Its people are showing courage at a difficult time. We stand with you in your struggle for democracy.” This public celebration of Israel helped show the crucial role that Israel plays as part of the identity of all Jewish communities. The JLC was proud to have been a key sponsor and organiser together with UJIA and the Board of Deputies. We could not have delivered this event without the logistical support and security provided by CST. To see photos from Closer to Israel, click here.