A peace rally in support of Israel by Christian Action Against Antisemitism postponed by police over security concerns will now take place in central London this Sunday 19th November.
Co-founder and Reverend Hayley Ace, a proud Maori from New Zealand tells Jewish News the group “stands proudly with Israel and the Jewish people.”
The 43-year old lives in Waltham Abbey with her husband Timothy Gutmann and their six children.
“We have been activists for around 15 years,” she says. “My husband set up a charity called Mordechai’s Voice. But we re-branded it as CAAA so as not to appropriate Jewish culture.”
Timothy’s father is Jewish, his mother is not. His great-grandmother and great-grandfather were killed by the Nazis.
“Our family are Christian and we both are ordained reverends. We want to be a voice that is not coming from the Jewish community, otherwise people would say ‘of course you’d say that because you’re Jewish’.”
The couple are reverends at Lea Valley Church. A community of 150 congregants, they are “openly pro Israel and always have been. We pray for Israel every week.”
Through their membership, they are affiliated to tens of thousands of people.
Hayley says: “We join people to the cause and rally people to the cause. Although they’re not members of us, they support what we do.”
Their initial rally in support of the Israeli victims of Hamas terror was due to take place on the afternoon of Saturday 21st October.
Ace says they only expected around one thousand people, but the “responses were overwhelming, unprecedented. We had estimates of 20,000 people going to attend the solidarity event, originally billed to take place at the Israel embassy.”
She said their group were “pushed from the Israeli embassy first. We were there first. We were told to move by the police; told to go somewhere safer.”
It was then suggested that instead they go to a Jewish area, so they organised to walk between Golders Green and Hendon Central, incorporate a 2 minute silence at the Holocaust Memorial and pray for the victims and hostages.
The police then told them “the event has gone viral in the Christian world, (which was brilliant), but you must keep it off all social media.”
But, she adds, “somewhere the pro-Palestine anti Israel movement got a hold of it, screenshot all the info, and wanted to come and destroy it. Theirs was a call for ‘brothers’ to bring something bad to the whole situation.
“The police were very worried for the safety of anyone considered a ‘Zionist’. Which we are, proudly. We’re not shrinking away from it as if it’s something evil.”
Ultimately, the police “implored” them to cancel.
The last thing they wanted, says Goodman, was “to bring a pogrom to Golders Green. We don’t want to scare the Jewish community. We’re responsible for everyone at the event.”
The couple were determined to regroup and work out a way forward “because we have a voice and will not shrink away.”
Hayley and Timothy passionately believe “our life’s work, our life’s absolute mission is to stand with the Jewish community, reach out to local shuls, to say we are here, we love you.”
Of antisemitism, she says “all the tropes began with Christianity. We’re aware of that and we’re here to educate. The history of the church is appalling in this regard – pogroms, tropes and canards. It’s not a dirty thing to support Israel.”
“So we pray, yes. To remind ourselves that Christians are the cause of 2000 years of persecution against the Jews. But we must do something.
“We want people to know we have a policy of no proselytising – we have no hidden agenda. Human to human we stand with the Jewish people and use our leadership to drive our mission and to educate Christians inspiring them to love, in action, towards their Jewish communities that says NOT AGAIN and we stand with you.”
To find out more about Sunday’s event, click here.
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