Jewish Iranian vigil
by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-12-20
Iranian Vigil - Photo: Corey Ross
British Jews have held a candlelight vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London to urge its leadership to secure the safe release of kidnapped Israeli soldiers as well as protesting about last week's Holocaust denial conference staged in the country's capital of Tehran.
More than 200 people braved cold temperatures outside the central London embassy in order to make their views known and light a Chanukah menorah.
Vigil participants raised concern over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has said the Nazi murdering of six million Jews is a "myth" while at the same time also calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map".
Lights were lit for the three Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit who were captured by Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists and with whom Iran is known to offer support.
The protest organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews saw a cross section of Anglo-Jewry as well as non-Jewish people take part.
Among those showing support were Tory MP James Arbuthnot and Labour MP Louise Ellman.
"This is an opportune time for the Jewish community and indeed all the British public to stand in solidarity and to urge the Iranian government to act humanely and responsibly, to be a force for peace rather than the sponsors of conflict," said Board chief executive Jon Benjamin.
A counter demonstration from the Islamic Human Rights Commission supporting by anti-Israel orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta saw Hezbollah flags flying and calls to end the State of Israel.
"While we were galvanised by the response of the Jewish community to come out on a cold night to stage a peaceful vigil, we were appalled that were others who chose to identify with a regime that clearly is promoting state-sponsored anti-Semitism," Benjamin added. "They purport to be part of the Jewish community, but they have put so much distance between themselves and their fellow Jews, that many are now questioning their standing. They will be judged by the company they keep."