by Jenni Frazer

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis paid fulsome tribute to MP Sir Eric Pickles on Sunday night for his “courageous stance” in asking for fair and balanced responses to the current violence in Israel.

Sir Eric, together with his wife Irene and local MPs Matthew Offord and Mike Freer, were part of a nearly 300-strong congregation at Hendon United Synagogue which had come together in solidarity with the victims of terror in Israel.

After a welcome by Hendon’s rabbi Mordechai Ginsbury, the evening service and special prayers for those dead and wounded in the current wave of violence, the chief rabbi gave a passionate address in which he reminded the congregation of the brutal killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby on a London street in May 2013.

If such a killing were replicated across the country, over and over again, the chief rabbi questioned how it might be dealt with here. “And yet this is exactly what is happening on the streets of Israel for the past month, the so-called ‘intifada of the knives”. British Jews and Israel were fortunate to have very good friends in the British government, the chief rabbi said, adding that the friendship of politicians such as Sir Eric, who had “stood up to be counted”, was “enormously valued.”

The deputy ambassador at the Israeli embassy in London, Eitan Naeh, gave a very personal address in which he spoke of the members of his family who had been the victims of terror in israel, including his father’s eight-year-old cousin. Mr Naeh, insisting that there was no other answer but the two-state solution, denounced “incitement” and “hatred” being taught to Palestinians as young as six years old. That had to stop, he said, if there were to be peace.