Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to “defeat the scourge of antisemitism” and spoke of her hopes for “an ambitious free trade deal between our countries [Israel and the UK]” in a powerful speech to more than 800 people at Monday’s United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) dinner in London.
The Prime Minister used her wide-ranging speech to pledge: “Under my leadership the UK will always be a real and trusted partner for Israel”.
Condemning the rise of antisemitism in the UK, Mrs May asserted: “If we are to stand up for the values that we share – then one of the things we need to do is give young Jewish people the confidence to be proud of their identity – as British, Jewish and Zionist too. There is no contradiction between these identities- we must never let that happen”.
To loud applause the Prime Minister stated: “Together, we will stand up for the values we share. Together, we will defeat the scourge of antisemitism and hatred in all its forms. And together, we will proudly support Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people”.
Mrs May thanked CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman in the House of Lords, Rt. Hon. Lord Pickles, for the “formidable” work that he has done for the establishment of a National Holocaust Memorial.
The Prime Minister concluded her speech: “As we approach the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur – a time of reflection…. my answer to the voices of antisemitism is that we will defeat you… my answer to those who say they are fearful, is to say I will always stand with you”.
Israeli Ambassador H.E. Mark Regev, spoke of the “strength” of the two countries’ ties.
The Conservative Party Chief Executive Sir Mick Davis, introduced Mrs May, saying: “We are blessed at a time like this to have Theresa May as Prime Minister”.
Prime Minister on antisemitism
“Let me be clear: you cannot claim to be tackling racism, if you are not tackling antisemitism. And that mission begins by being clear about what antisemitism is. That is why the government I lead was the first in the world to adopt the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Because of this definition, no-one can plead ignorance or hide behind any kind of excuse”.
“Let me say it very clearly. Criticising the actions of Israel is never – and can never be – an excuse for questioning Israel’s right to exist; any more than criticising Britain’s actions could be an excuse for questioning our right to exist. And criticising the government of Israel is never – and can never be – an excuse for hatred against the Jewish people – any more than criticising the British government would be an excuse for hatred against the British people”.
“There are no excuses for any kind of hatred towards the Jewish people. Just as there are no excuses for hatred towards any community of any race or religion. No excuses, means no excuses”.
Prime Minister on trade with Israel
“The UK is already Israel’s second largest trading partner and its number one destination for investment in Europe with more than 340 Israeli companies already operating here”.
“While our bilateral trade is already worth over $9 billion – up by more than a quarter on last year alone”.
“I have said to Prime Minister Netanyahu I want to build on this – deepening our links in particular in sectors like agriculture, health, science, technology and innovation”.
Prime Minister on Israel
“You can also count on me to defend Israel’s values – because Israel is a country like ours that believes in liberty, democracy and the rule of law”.
“I understand Israel’s vulnerability because I have been there and seen it for myself. I am clear that we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself”.
“And in a world where Britain and Israel increasingly face the same shared challenges and threats, I am just as clear that our security services will continue to deepen their already excellent co-operation to keep all our people safe”.
Prime Minister on BDS
“As we work together towards what was Balfour’s vision of a peaceful co-existence – we must be equally clear that there can never be any excuses for boycotts, divestment or sanctions: they are unacceptable and this government will have no truck with those who subscribe to them”.
“Under my leadership the UK will always be a real and trusted partner for Israel, supporting Israel’s security and prosperity, not just through our words but also through our actions”.
Prime Minister on the Duke of Cambridge visit to Israel
“Earlier this year, we saw the wonderful visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, the first official Royal visit in Israel’s 70-year history”.
“The Duke’s visit was a celebration of our contemporary partnership with Israel. And it was absolutely right that that the Duke also met other young people from Israeli civil society, including LGBT leaders, those working on mental health issues and those helping the less fortunate in society”.
Prime Minister on Balfour Declaration
“The last year has also seen us mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. I will never forget standing with Prime Minister Netanyahu to view the original version of that historic letter. It was very special moment and it encapsulates for me how I feel about Israel. For I am not just proud to support Israel; I am proud of our role in the creation of Israel. And I want to build the strongest and deepest possible relationship between our two countries”.