Festival is a triumph for peace

THE inaugural Scottish International Shalom Festival, Building Cultural Bridges, was a triumph of peace over hate.

The festival, organised by the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland in association with StandWithUs and the European Coalition for Israel, was held at Central Hall on Wednesday as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Following an exhibition, there was a gala concert, attended by more than 500 people.

Among those attending were MSPs John Mason, Jackson Carlaw and Professor Adam Tomkins, former Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson, Israeli UK Minister for Public Diplomacy Roni Yedidia-Clein, former Israeli diplomat to the UK Ishmael Khaldi, Board of Deputies consultant Steven Jaffe and Revelation TV presenter Simon Barrett.

The exhibition included a talk by Israelite Samaritan elder Benyamin Tsedaka, a cookery demonstration by Carmel Forest Spa Resort, Haifa operation chef Israeli Druze Rani Hadid, talks, films and krava maga and first aid sessions.

There were stalls including Jericho Dead Sea products, Rockets to Roses, StandWithUs, Friends of Magen David Adom and many others.

Performers at the concert were Israeli bands Yamma and Anna RF, London-based Israeli singer Tally Koren, while compere was Hadar Galron.

The night ended with the Hatikva, followed by a piper playing Scotland the Brave and two young musicians blowing shofars.

Belgian Patricia Teitelbaum, who has been involved in organising Shalom Festivals in Brussels and Antwerp for five years, told the audience: "It fills me with joy and happiness to be in Scotland.

"The partnership between the Jewish and Christian groups who run the festivals in Belgium is based on shared views and love for Israel.

"We have proved that peace can be achieved against all obstacles.

"Those who have only boycotts and demonstrations in mind are far from the path of peace."

Mr Khaldi told the audience: "Shalom is a word that connects all of us.

"I'm thrilled to see this event happening here five-and-a-half years after I was shouted down at Edinburgh University.

"I will never forget what happened there - it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. A year later, I came back to Britain.

"I came up to Scotland and started knocking on doors throughout the country. I found wonderful, friendly people supporting Israel.

"Now we are celebrating Israel. You will see friends of Israel across Scotland. We are here for you and Israel loves you.

"There is one man who has made all this possible. Nigel Goodrich has sacrificed his time with his family and his job to support Israel. The State of Israel owes him everything."

Festival chief executive Mr Goodrich told the Jewish Telegraph: "The creativity and exuberance of ancient and modern Israel were the stars of the show. We are all looking forward to strengthening links between Scotland and Israel even more next year."

Groups of anti-Israel demonstrators were located at various spots near and opposite the venue, but had no effect on what turned out to be a joyful day of peace and harmony inside the venue.

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