Prime Minister David Cameron praised the UK’s Jewish community at length in a recent pre-election interview with the Jewish Chronicle. During a wide-ranging interview, David Cameron observed: “I think that the Jewish community is a model of how to come and integrate into a country and make an enormous contribution — but at the same time as doing that it’s right to respect people’s religious and cultural sensitivities and practices”.
Describing what he admires about the Jewish community, the PM elaborated: “I really admire several things. One is the emphasis on family. All cultures celebrate family but there’s something about the way Jewish people talk about their families and act within their families. And there’s something about Jewish weddings as well. They’re very special”.
The PM also commended the Jewish community for its emphasis upon philanthropy: “I never cease to be blown away by the unbelievable generosity and public spiritedness, whether it’s organisations like Jewish Care or Norwood or the CST. It’s the idea of putting back in, which I so strongly believe in. If you’ve had the chance to make it then you put back in. That is so at the heart of what the Jewish community believes”.
Mr Cameron quipped: “I hope a bit of that rubs off on me, because they’re thoroughly good things to have”.
Mr Cameron also outlined his long-standing support for shechita, which began with a visit to Much Meats, one of the largest kosher slaughterhouses in the country, which is in the Prime Minister’s Witney constituency. The Prime Minister explained how this has shown him the importance of shechita: “He’s a good friend of mine, Mr Much. When I became an MP he said: ‘You ought to know, I carry out shechita slaughter for a lot of the UK here and you should come and meet the shochet and come and find out about what this practice involves, what it means to Jewish people.’ So I went, and ever since then I’ve been a staunch defender of freedom for religious slaughter”.
The PM spoke at length about his determination to combat anti-Semitism, and expressed his horror at the recent terror attacks against the Jewish community in Europe, that began with an attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014, which he doesn’t believe “got the coverage it deserved”. Mr Cameron: “It was very worrying because this was the first really dreadful example of people just being targeted simply for their religious beliefs and their identity”.
The protection of the Jewish community was identified as a priority: “That’s why as Prime Minister I’ve tried, in the last few months, to do everything I possibly can to reassure the community about its safety and security, and so the additional money for CST, for independent schools as well as state schools, and working with the police and security services to make sure all the right people are contacted and helped and advised”. Mr Cameron asserted that he “really feels a huge responsibility to try and get this right”.
Highlighting the importance of tackling extremism in British schools and colleges, Mr Cameron said that “one of the best ways you defeat terrorism is to be strong and resolute and not to bend or change your way of doing things, which we must do — that’s very British”. According to the PM, “the Jewish community are very bold and forthright in that and we work together on that”.
The Prime Minister also reiterated his strong belief in Israel’s right to self-defence against “indiscriminate” terror attacks: “As PM, putting yourself in the shoes of the Israeli people, who want peace but have to put up with these indiscriminate attacks — that reinforces to me the importance of standing by Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself”.
He proceeded to criticise those that draw an equivalence between Israel and Hamas: “I feel very strongly that this equivalence that sometimes people try to draw when these attacks take place is so completely wrong and unfair”.
The PM praised Israel’s “creative culture” and high-tech start-up’s, emphasising that “co-operating with Israel in doing this and having joint tech work is really important”.
Click here to read the full interview.