‘Israel has a right to exist, Israel has a duty to defend itself, and I stand with Israel’

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‘Israel has a right to exist, Israel has a duty to defend itself, and I stand with Israel’

Deputy PM Oliver Dowden re-affirms government solidarity with Jewish community at Norwood fundraiser for 700 guests

Deputy PM Oliver Dowden at Norwood fundraising event.
Deputy PM Oliver Dowden at Norwood fundraising event.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said the UK Government was working hard to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas terrorists on October 7. 

Addressing 700 people at a heavily-guarded Jewish charity fundraiser on Wednesday evening, Mr Dowden also reaffirmed the government’s support for Israel and the UK Jewish community after the “heinous attack” left more than 1,400 people dead.

He said: “Let me start by remembering all those people murdered so brutally and so senselessly in that heinous attack. Men, women, children, babies – may their memories be a blessing.”

Reflecting on the ongoing call for hostages taken from Israel to be released – two of whom are British nationals – Mr Dowden said he was standing in “solidarity to all those desperately waiting for those of loved ones taken hostage. We are doing everything we can to secure their release. May they return home soon.”

Mr Dowden said the government would stand by Israel “in its darkest hour.

“Israel has a right to exist, Israel has a duty to defend itself, and I stand with Israel.”

Mr Dowden made the comments at the annual dinner for Norwood, which supports adults and children with special needs.

As the MP for Hertsmere, which has one of the largest Jewish communities in the UK, he described himself as a “resolute friend of Israel,” adding: “Peace can only be through the removal of the threat of Hamas. The UK Government remains committed to that peace.”

The Norwood dinner was held in central London, to help continue raising funds people and children with special needs that depend on its services. Model Ellie Goldstein, who has Down’s Syndrome, said she had “happy memories” from Norwood, speaking about all she had managed to achieve, from high-profile modelling campaigns with Vogue to Gucci and Adidas.

Incoming Norwood chairman Miles Webber affirmed his commitment to the organisation – and revealed his own personal connection to Norwood. Born in Northamptonshire, Mr Webber was adopted when he was just six months old. It was a social worker, associated with Norwood, that helped place him with his adoptive Jewish parents in St John’s Wood.

Naomi Dickson, chief executive of Norwood, which relies on £12 million in voluntary donations annually, thanked guests for attending – described the charity as a “lifeline”, saying it was now also supporting people with loved ones in Israel.

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