LONDON (JTA)—With a pair of massive rallies for Israel held simultaneously in London’s Trafalgar Square and Manchester’s Heaton Park on Sunday, British Jewry may be signaling that its transformation is at hand.
Some 30,000 participants attended the public shows of support for Israel, which were inspired by New York’s annual Salute-to-Israel parade.
Several thousand people waving Israeli and British flags marched from the Ritz Hotel to Trafalgar Square followed by dozens of carnival floats, cyclists, dancers and bands. At Trafalgar Square, an Israeli Cabinet minister, Britain’s secretary of state for Education and Britain’s chief rabbi all addressed the crowd. Israeli musicians performed between the speeches.
“I’m sure that my father, who served here as an officer in the British army, couldn’t have imagined that some day tens of thousands of Jews would be waving Israeli flags here in Trafalgar Square,” said Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, who helped organize the events.
Observers and critics alike said the unprecedented show of pride and self-confidence at the rallies is a sign that British Jewry is shaking off its reputation for being timid and low key.