Faith leaders and MPs came together to speak out against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at an event to mourn the loss of life in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The event called Building Bridges, Together for Humanity was held last Sunday. People stood in the cold and rain outside Downing Street to help protect community relations in the UK.
caption: Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran giving speech at Together 4 Humanity
Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran told the crowd that hope must come from the bloodshed.
Moran, who is of Palestinian descent and has a family member who died in Gaza, also vowed she will do everything in her power to ensure a solution to the conflict.
“It is wonderful that so many children have been brought here today.”
“We will do everything in our power so that this is the last time.”
The people of Palestine and Israel are paying the price of the failure of politicians to find the words to deal with the conflict, added Labour MP, Stella Creasy.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood told the crowd they were standing “in the shadows of Big Ben and at a time when our politics seems ever tribal”.
Jemima Goldsmith, heiress who has Muslim and Jewish family members, plus barrister and Rob Rinder, a TV personality who is of Jewish descent, were among those who joined the crowds.
Caption: Magen Inon and Hamza Awawde hug after giving speeches
The highlight of the event was the emotional speeches by Magen Inon and Hamza Awawde, who represented both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Inon, who grew up in the south of Israel, described how his parents died on October 7 when a shoulder rocket hit their house.
“The house burned down with my parents completely in it. We pray that they do not suffer in the last moments. The only consolation I have is that they died together, inseparable in life and death,” he said.
When he told people of his bereavement he would often be asked about revenge, he said: “revenge would be to start building everything the terrorists set up to destroy that day”.
Awawde, a Palestinian spoke about his grandfather, who had chosen to fight in the 1948 war and sacrifice his life so Palestinians will have a better future.
“And here we are, 50 years later; every year got worse and worse … The violence we faced so far did not work. It’s not smart.”
“They call us naive … I think we are not naive because peace needs brave people, needs courage, and hard work. That’s why not many people are doing it.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, stepped on the stage and said he was awed and humbled after hearing stories from survivors of the conflict with relatives who were killed on October 7, who said they wanted peace and not hatred.
Welby added: “There is no good ever in the death of an innocent Israeli, there is no good ever in the death of an innocent Palestinian.”
Fighting brings “agony to the families, fear for the future and it drives peace far away”, he said.
A moment of silence was held and lanterns were lit to end the vigil.