Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Tzipi Hotovely, spoke to Israel National News - Arutz Sheva, about the Jewish community in the UK and its close connection to Israel, antisemitism and the fight to make the world acknowledge the rights of the women who were sexually assaulted on October 7.

Ambassador Hotovely described the special Mizrahi Shabbat, a weekend of inspiration, that was held last week with over 40 people from all around Israel, saying that, “this Shabbat is an annual event, but this year it's especially needed, especially significant, in the shadow of October 7 events and also with the big cloud of antisemitism that is really rising all around the Jewish world."

She recounted how "the young students are feeling it on the campuses here and some people feel it where they work or live. We don't want to identify our Judaism through antisemitism, as the Chief Rabbi said, ‘We want to identify our Judaism, because of the great things that the state of Israel is doing, the great things that we as the Jewish people brought to the world.’ I think that this is the main message of this Shabbat, to be inspired by the Jewish light, not just to speak about the danger that it brings with it.”

Amb. Hotovely explained the feelings these days in the UK Jewish community, saying that it is a, “Very proud community and very much connected to Israel. Over 200 families here have lone soldiers, young people who left everything to fight in this very crucial war for the future of Israel. Many people that I meet are saying, ‘My son is in Gaza,’ ‘My nephew is in Gaza.’ So we really feel the strong bond between the Jewish community here and the Israelis. At the same time, Jewish communities feel like they're under attack by antisemitism. They feel like the streets have been taken over with a very radical statement like, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’.”

Amb. Hotovely believes that “the moment where we felt it more than ever was when it (‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’) was projected under Big Ben, maybe the biggest symbol of London. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a very clear message about it right after the incident in front of Number 10 Downing Street. During the press conference, he said, ‘We won't be hijacked by those radicals,’ and at the same time he defined it as a threat to Britain, not as a threat just to the Jewish community. I think this is the right way to look at it.”

On the confrontation between Israel and the UK regarding sanctions against Jews and Israelis in Judea and Samaria, Amb. Hotovely states, “We don't agree that any individuals in Israel should be under international sanctions because we are a country of rule and law and we have delivered this message also to our friends in Britain. We are saying that it’s our duty to make sure that every crime is investigated. We have a very strong legal system. No one doubts that, so it's our job to make sure that this will be an Israeli matter, being investigated in the Israeli legal system. We don't agree that any Israeli individual should be under international sanctions.”

One of Amb. Hotovely’s main fights, as a voice for Israel, is for the rights of the women who were sexually assaulted on October 7, especially against the silence of the world. She states, “That's probably one of the most important events we had in Parliament. The British Parliament was hosting the witnesses of the horrible crimes that were committed against Israeli women on October 7, so we had two big events that we did around it. One was to bring it to Parliament. There were over one hundred people in the room in Parliament. The room was very crowded and everyone wanted to listen. We had representatives of the opposition and the government. Everyone wanted to listen to those witnesses. I don't think one eye left dry after the witnesses spoke, including myself. We were crying and they realized how horrific this sexual violence was, as part of the systematic work of terrorizing the Israeli people and the Israeli women.”

Amb. Hotovely continued to say that they “brought it to the press. The British press is very much interested in listening to those testimonies and the Sunday Times did a big piece about the sexual violence. We keep on bringing up the violence against the young women, so the Daily Mail published an article, and it became an iconic picture of the girls, the young soldiers, that are now in captivity. We saw their faces and they look like they've been through horrible violence. We keep on having this conversation with the British people through the media and the event in Parliament was definitely one of the most important things we did to raise awareness for that.”