The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions addressed over 1000 people at the service at Finchley Synagogue, organised by youth organisation Bnei Akiva, as Israel’s Remembrance Day (Yom Hazikaron) led into Israeli Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut).
Mr Crabb began: “The remarkable sense of fellowship and unity felt in Israel, and in Jewish communities all around the world, as we remember those who have given their lives in the defence of Israel, is something truly beautiful and inspirational”.
He went on to describe Israel on Remembrance Day as “a country united as one to remember their fallen”.
The former Wales Secretary said that “the need for a Jewish state remains as crucial now as it was in 1948”, and that the British Government “does not take the safety of the Jewish people for granted”.
He said that on Israel’s 68th birthday, “we recall that this relatively young country – young but with deep ancient roots – has endured so much. It has also achieved so much”.
Mr Crabb continued: “My hope is, and I’m sure you will all agree with me, that the State of Israel will continue to thrive… [and] one day its people will be able to live in peace in a land that is their home”.
The Minister, who visited Israel for the first time in 2007 with CFI, said that, as a Christian, he has “always felt a very close affinity with the Holy Land”.
“At a time when the Christian population of the Middle East is in steep decline due to systematic and sustained persecution, Israel continues to be a place where Christians are welcomed and feel safe”, he said.
He underlined: “The freedom and right to worship guaranteed by Israel ensures that people of all faiths – and none – can enjoy the history and share in all of the experiences of this wonderful Holy Land… Israel’s Christian community, as with all its diverse citizens, are free to live their lives as they wish and this should be celebrated”.
Mr Crabb referred to the “repugnant rise in anti-Semitism both in Europe and here in the UK”, describing it as representing “a stain on our nation”.
He said: “I want to reassure you that this government has an unequivocal zero-tolerance approach to this racist ideology. We need to make it clear that anti-Semitism, whether it is expressed through the pernicious illiberal boycotts and sanctions bandwagon; through pouring out hate on twitter; or through any other means, is totally unacceptable”.
He emphasised that “we should in particular hold those in public life to the highest standards on this”.
The UK’s Jewish community, Mr Crabb said, “is, unquestionably, part of the fabric of our society and the contribution of Jewish people in business, in media, in politics, in culture, in all parts of our national life, has been truly immense”.
He praised the UK’s partnerships with Israel, “through trade and through collaborations in medical research, cyber-security and tech”, stating that bilateral trade between the UK and Israel has exceeded £3 billion in each of the past four years.
Mr Crabb also addressed the issue of Palestinian incitement: “The Prime Minister has been clear in condemning Palestinian incitement to violence; from schools named after terrorists to official Palestinian Authority television programmes glorifying attacks against the Israeli people. For this to be acceptable throughout Palestinian society is wrong; driving children, some as young as 11, to take a knife and try and kill an Israeli”.
He concluded: “The success of a lasting two-state solution rests upon the Palestinian Authority starting to teach its young people about peaceful coexistence, rather than radicalising them. In the Jewish community in the UK, there are some amazing examples among the great number of youth groups and organisations that play such an important role in people’s lives, of this spirit”.
The Ambassador to Israel and the Chief Rabbi were also in attendance and addressed those gathered.