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Thousands Witness Flag-raising Ceremony over Israeli Consulate in London

Thousands of persons gathered in Manchester Square here today to witness the first raising of the Israeli flag over Number 18, a dignified Georgian mansion which once was the home of British nobility and aristocracy, and is now the Israeli consulate in London.

The ceremony began with the crowd singing Hatikvah. The sound of the Israeli anthem echoed across the rooftops of the square which is less than 15 minutes from the spot where Israeli President Chaim Weizmann received the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

The crowd cheered the name of Premier David Bon Gurion and afterwards the state of Israel, and then a hush fell over the scene as a procession, with the Scrolls of the law, arrived for the ceremony and the blue-and-white flag was put in readiness for hoisting. On the first floor balcony, leaders of English Zionism assembled. As they moved out, the crowd roared. Richard H.S. Crossman, Member of Parliament, was recognized as the only non-Jew present. There were cheers for Sidney Silverman and Barnett Janner, also Members of Parliament.

In a ringing voice, old Rabbi J.K. Goldbloom began his blessing of the flag. “From Zion comes the law,” he said, and then slowly the blue star on a white field rose into the air, where it flapped in the wind, close to the Pakistani crescent and star flying just around the corner. The youngest member of the staff of the Israeli Mission, Ruth Libstedter, 17, who was born at Nuremberg and taken as a one-year-old infant by her parents to Jerusalem, raised the flag and was loudly cheered by the crowd. The Hatikvah was again sung.

All the Zionist parties and the Agudas Israel were officially represented. Just before the flag-raising ceremony began, I.J. Linton, Israeli representative here, said in a brief address: “This is going to be a simple ceremony. We are hoisting the flag for the first time in London. Before the traditional benediction is recited, I ask you to stand for a moment’s silence in homage to the men and women who have given their lives so that the state of Israel may live.”

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