LONDON — Sirens were heard in London’s Trafalgar Square Sunday when a group of Israelis staged an event simulating the reactions of people in Israel running for cover from Hamas missile attacks.
The “flash mob” event was organized by the Israel Forum Task Force (IFTF), a newly-formed initiative by a group of Israelis in London. Sunday’s scenario followed similar events recently staged in Vienna, Amsterdam and Buenos Aires.
Nir Cohen, representative of the World Zionist Organization in the UK and organizer of the flash mob, said that yesterday’s event was held “both out of solidarity with other Jewish organizations worldwide which held similar events, and out of solidarity with the Israeli people.”
On hearing the sirens, the 60-strong group lay down on the concrete, to the wonder of tourists and passersby.
According to Cohen, Sunday’s siren in Trafalgar Square uncannily coincided with a siren heard in Tel Aviv, warning residents of Hamas rockets heading towards the city.
“There have been so many anti-Israel demonstrations here that we wanted to do something for Israel and show the other side of the coin. We wanted to tip the scales to add balance to what we believe is an unbalanced environment in the UK,” said Cohen.
‘We wanted to tip the scales to add balance to what we believe is an unbalanced environment in the UK’
The IFTF was established recently to enable the Israeli community to “do something more original and interesting than simply organize rallies,” said IFTF director Anat Koren, who is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Alondon, a magazine for Israelis in the UK.
“As Israelis living abroad, we want to contribute to the Israeli effort. We fear that Israel is not only fighting a war in the country, but also in the British media and for public opinion,” said Koren.
In view of current events, the IFTF created a Situation Room (“Hadar Matzav”) where volunteers from the Israeli community meet daily to discuss the day’s news, brainstorm and publish a daily newsletter, aimed at Israelis in the UK. More events are planned, said Koren.
“We wanted to set up a cohesive group to whom people could turn to for an Israeli ‘voice’ — information and views from Israelis,” she added. “We are not only doing it for ourselves, but will also collaborate with the British Jewish community.”
There are an estimated 80,000 Israelis living in the UK.
“This was the first event of its kind organized by a discrete Israeli group,” added Cohen. “What was particularly moving was that we were joined by British Jews too – the two communities do not usually join forces or take part in activities together.”
He was pleasantly surprised by the reactions of visitors yesterday to probably the most famous square in London.
“We were initially concerned about negative reactions and comments, but they asked questions and even clapped at the end of our event,” he said. “Yesterday proved that the general public either doesn’t really understand the situation or is not interested, as it’s a conflict happening far away. However, it also proved that they want to know more.”