A London-based Israeli whose parents were killed in Israel led inspirational calls for peace at a vigil last night. Peace activist Magen Inon, whose parents Bilha and Yakov were victims of the October 7th attack in Israel, gave an impassioned speech during the Together for Humanity event at Middlesex University. More than 200 people listened to speeches from local faith and community leaders urging people to stand united against rising anti-Semitism and islamophobia.
Magen, a father of three who lives in Camden, North West London, described how he was taken aback by the diversity of friends and colleagues of his parents in Israel. He said: "We arrived in Israel the day after, October 8, and had a Shiva, which is a Jewish week of mourning and it was very special. One of the things that was very clear that the people who gave their condolences came from very diverse communities. The people my parents worked with and had friendships with were religious Jews, non-religious Jews, orthodox Christians and Muslims and they were all sitting here sharing incredible stories about my parents and it was very clear as a family that we wanted to put that voice out. And that we as a family are not looking for revenge and we are trying to look toward the more long-term future where there is really only one solution which is peace."
He drew applause when mentioning how his boy had become friends with the son of Palestinian activist Hamza Awad. "Hamza's son is about the same age and they just play football," he added. "It is not that complicated. It is the adults who make it complicated."
Organised by Together for Humanity, the Barnet Multi Faith Forum and the Middlesex University Inter Faith Network, the vigil was part of a series of events including a march from Trafalgar Square last weekend. Lanterns were lit by religious leaders in a sign of unity and mobile phone torches were also turned on in darkness during a prayer. Schoolchildren from the Sacre Inter-Faith Choir stole the show and there was a special thanks to police in Barnet borough and the adoption of the Barnet Pledge by religious leaders introduced by Edwin Shuker, Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Musician Tally Koren led an inspiring Arabic and Jewish rendition of Peace will be upon us and on everyone, Sallam, Shalom.
Professor Julia Clarke, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University, said: 'I want to make it clear that the University supports the movement that is standing against rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred amidst the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine. It is so important that as a community we stand together to give a voice to the majority of people who are against hatred and share a vision of hope in these desperately challenging times.'
Julie Siddiqi MBE, co-founder of Nisa-Nashim Jewish-Muslim Women’s Network said: 'There has been a large spike in hate crime and we should never be complacent in the role that we all need to play in making sure that it doesn't get worse.'
Esmond Rosen, president of the Barnet Multi Faith Forum, said: 'This event is about having a space at Middlesex University for us to come together, to grieve, to mourn and to build bridges.'
Find out more about the work of Together for Humanity. Pictures of lanterns and the Sacre Choir taken by the Reverend Shaun Sanders.
"We commit ourselves, as people of many faiths living in Barnet. To work together for the common good, uniting to build a better society in our Borough, in London and the wider world.
"Grounded in values and ideals we share: Community, personal integrity, a sense of right and wrong. Learning, wisdom and love of truth, care and compassion, Justice and peace, respect for one another for the earth and its creatures.
"We commit ourselves, in a spirit of friendship and co-operation. To work together alongside all who share our values and ideals in Barnet and beyond. To help bring about a better Borough, a better capital and a better world. Now and for generations to come." The Barnet Pledge