Glasgow joins the party

PICTURES: Dean Edwards Photography

THE Israeli embassy brought its Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations to Glasgow last week.

An event, attended by around 120 invited guests, was held at the Glasgow Hilton Hotel.

Present were religious leaders, politicians, communal representatives and active supporters of Israel.

Present from the embassy were deputy ambassador Eitan Na'eh, public diplomacy director Rony Yedidia-Clein, head of administration Eyal Azulay and commercial trade officer Natan Livne.

The Calderwood Lodge Primary School Choir, conducted by deputy headteacher Andrew Robson, performed several Hebrew songs.

Centre for Scotland and Israel Relations director Ruth Kennedy said: "It's time to stop and reflect on the last 68 years of a world with Israel.

"It's also a time to contemplate a world ahead, of possibilities for Israel and for Scotland.

"This year, we celebrate Israel in Scotland - a year that has seen many new and existing relationships developed.

"I've witnessed this network of friends growing right across society and I'm grateful to those who have travelled here from Inverness to the Borders."

Mr Na'eh thanked the gathering "for being friends of Israel and pro-Zionist - people who believe in the Jewish homeland".

He added: "There is more than one thing in common between Israel and Scotland. There's entrepreneurship, the love of football and much more.

"Yom Ha'atzmaut is not just another day in the calendar. Since independence, we have added the Day of Remembrance for our fallen and the Day of Independence.

"It was long a Zionist dream for those who have dreamed of a Jewish homeland. It took a Scot, Lord Balfour, to give us a certificate to help us achieve that dream.

"Zionism is a movement to help Jews make part of history rather than be victims of it. We have gone through thick and thin to make Israel what it is today.

"Here in Scotland, we celebrate the establishment of the Israel Office, with Ruth, helped by an active Jewish community, Honorary Consul of Israel in Scotland Stanley Lovatt and many of you here this evening."

Mr Lovatt, who congratulated guest Ken Macintosh on his appointment as Scottish Parliament presiding officer, said: "In the 68 years of Israel's independence, Israel's population has multiplied by 10 and its economy by 100.

"It has absorbed millions of immigrants from more than 70 countries. Israel is laying foundations, putting down tracks, breaking new frontiers in science, technology, culture and art.

"In every field, it is the definitive testament to the creative spirit and the life that beats in the hearts of its population.

"Despite being the only country in the world whose existence is constantly challenged and facing ongoing terrorism and wars, it has succeeded in retaining one of the most democratic systems anywhere."

He added: "Israel is blessed to have one of the most robust economies and rejoices in the fact that it has more new high-tech initiatives and start-ups per capita than any other nation.

"Not to mention that over the past decade its own desalination processes have overcome a severe drought condition and, despite prevarications, will in future become a gas exporting nation.

"No society in the world is flawless and obviously even with its enormous achievements from absolutely nothing, Israel is no exception.

"Hopefully before very long its ingenious entrepreneurs can also solve the political problems in the region.

"Israel has much to celebrate. Is there another country that has accomplished so much in less than 70 years of independence?"

New Glasgow Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins told the Jewish Telegraph: "I am looking forward to working with my colleague Jackson Carlaw and anyone else in promoting Jewish affairs in Scotland and Israel in the Scottish Parliament.

"My four children all attend Calderwood Lodge and I'm a frequent visitor to Israel. I'm a law professor at Glasgow University and have many academic ties with Israel. I'm appalled by the BDS movement."

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