LONDON – At least 5,500 Zionists joined Israel’s UK Ambassador Daniel Taub and
his family at a celebratory concert to mark Israel’s 65th Birthday at the
Wembley Arena on Tuesday night.
Ignoring two very small demonstrations
outside the world-famous soccer stadium, many of the younger guests danced and
sang along with the popular French-based musical group Alabina, led by
About a dozen followers of Neturei Karta stood alongside about 20
protesters from a pro-Palestinian group called “In mind,” who attempted to shout
hostile slogans at those arriving at the venue, but they were kept away by at
least as many police officers, some of whom were faintly bemused by the odd mix
Songwriter Ivri Lider performed at the concert,
accompanied by Israel’s Youth Aliyah Ensemble. While the ensemble’s string
section has yet to match the abilities of the other sections of the nine-piece
group, its trumpet player excelled in the large hanger-style arena, enabling
Lider to start the concert in style.
Taub praised the British Zionist
Federation as being one of Israel’s “strategic assets” and made a special
reference to the federation’s promotion of Israel’s scientific achievements at a
recent series of highly successful events in the UK.
expressed at the lastminute withdrawal of The X Factor’s 2008 winner Alexandra
Burke from the concert lineup. The British star, who regularly performed at
Jewish weddings and bar mitzvas before finding international fame with her cover
of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” had not given the event organizers any reason
for not appearing, though one source suggested rather than her succumbing to a
boycott call, her current TV filming schedule was probably the
Replacing Burke, highly popular homegrown Jewish X Factor
contestant Stacey Solomon performed and included a polished rendition of “It’s a
wonderful world,” which drew appreciation from all age ranges at
Another UK television talent-contest winner, the almost
unbelievably well-choreographed gymnasts known as “Spellbound,” had many in the
audience gasping at their athletic dancing skills and showed why they richly
deserved the title as best performers on Britain’s Got Talent two years
However, the loudest reception was inevitably reserved for Ishtar
and her stunning vocal range, matched only by her lively performance across
differing musical styles.
Alabina helped raise the cacophony of music,
but when Chico and his Gipsy Kings band joined them on the stage, many in the
audience stood, danced or swayed to their music, while those of an older
generation struggled to protect their more delicate hearing.
Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark later told The Jerusalem Post
that the concert had been a “spectacular and enjoyable” way to start marking
Israel’s 65th year, though he reminded all that the Jewish community and its
friends will be required to demonstrate its support for Israel on June 2, when
there will be a large march for Israel through London’s West End.