Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs argued that anti-Zionism is antisemitism and condemned antisemitism in the Labour Party at a UK Israel Business event last week. Referring to the Labour Party, Michael Gove said that antisemitism “now finds a home in British Politics”.
Gove, who narrowly missed out in the Conservative leadership selection process, asserted that antisemitism was being “nurtured and encouraged by British politicians” emphasising that this was one of the largest difficulties in the current political climate.
He continued to argue that anti-Zionism and antisemitism were two sides of the same coin stating: “The form antisemitism takes now is an attack on the Jewish home, an attempt to undermine and delegitimise Israel… The idea that the Jewish people should not have their own home, their own nation, a right to self-determination, that is antisemitism pure and simple.”
Throughout his speech he continually referred to the response to antisemitism being a test of civilisation. He said: “If you look back to medieval times, Spain’s antisemitism [during the Inquisition] was a sign that that country was going backwards. In the 19th century, Vienna’s antisemitism was a sign that that country was going backwards. Even now in Russia, antisemitism there is a sign of Putin’s erosion of freedom of liberty in that country, which is taking it into darker times.”
He continued: “Throughout history, the country that is friendliest towards, and most supportive of its Jewish neighbours and friends, is a beacon. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the Netherlands. In the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, it was the UK. Now the UK and America stand with Israel, showing that we are truly countries that believe in liberty. So the test for any civilised society… is whether it stands with the Jewish people, and whether it stands with Israel. It is a pleasure to stand with the Jewish people. It is a duty to stand with Israel”.