Leeds Jewish community

From l-R: Event organisers Jeff Riches and Pastor Kemi Ilori; Or Nehushtan (shaliach to Leeds Jewish community); David Soakell (Christian Friends of Israel); Steven Jaffe (Board of Deputies consultant on grassroots engagement on Israel) and Simon Jackson (President, Leeds Jewish Representative Council)

Christians across the UK have been signing a declaration expressing appreciation of Israel, in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and extremism in the Middle East.

The declaration states: “We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens and where the Christian community is growing.

“We grieve and stand with families in Israel and the wider Middle East, who have lost loved ones and with all who are persecuted by the rise of violent extremism and intolerance in the region.”

It has been endorsed by organisations, Christian Friends of Israel and the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, as well as by individual churches and prayer groups.

It  calls upon the spiritual leaders and elected representative to work to combat anti-Semitism and extremism across the world and to strengthen co-operation between the UK and Israel

A meeting was held in the Carriageworks theatre in Leeds on 1 March, attended by over 200 people, including Pastor Kemi Ilori, who leads the Team group of 21 churches in Leeds. He said he was ‘proud’ to sign the Declaration and show public support for both the Jewish community at a time of surging anti-Semitism in the UK and extremism in the Middle East. Leeds 2015 full crowd

Conference organiser, Brenda Taylor, said: “We are meeting to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. I am delighted to encourage all our delegates to sign the Declaration as an expression of our love and concern for Israel”.

Steven Jaffe, grassroots consultant at the Board of Deputies said: “Sadly we often hear of negativity from elements within the Churches in the UK. The Shalom Declaration is a powerful reminder we have strong friends in the Christian community. They wish to promote the cause of peace in a way which recognises Israel  as the only democracy in the Middle East “.

The Declaration will also be signed at an annual gathering of over 800 Christians at Westminster later in March, at the new Edinburgh Friends of Israel at the end of March and at a gathering of over 800 Christians in Northern Ireland on March 16.