She welcomed the UK’s decision to recognise a “great Scottish Conservative”, Arthur James Balfour, and the Balfour Declaration in its centenary this year, with a “year of celebrations to talk about the Jewish homeland”.
The MSP for Edinburgh Central added that the occasion provides an opportunity to “talk about how Israel is a force for good as a democratic country”, stating that “it’s one that has a vibrant free press, that allows the kind of political debate that we take for granted”, whereas in “all of its near neighbours in the region, their citizens don’t have that same luxury”.
Ms Davidson hailed Scotland-Israel trade, amounting to £120 million in 2016, and emphasised the importance of “cultural exchanges” between the UK and Israel, such as the Shalom International festival held in her constituency. She said that all parties in Scotland “work hard” to champion the Jewish community, and referred to the cross-party group on Building Bridges with Israel set up by her Deputy, Jackson Carlaw MSP.
She praised the work of Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles as CFI Parliamentary Chairman, and of former Prime Minister David Cameron, before emphasising Prime Minister May’s “level of commitment to the community”, proven by her decision to fulfil an existing dinner arrangement with the Chief Rabbi on the night before the General Election this year, even though she “would have been forgiven” for withdrawing. The Home Secretary was also commended by Ms Davidson, for “doing so much to provide security right across the United Kingdom” for Jewish communal organisations and schools.
Ms Davidson’s remarks were made at the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ President’s Dinner on Monday, where she appeared in conversation with James Harding, the director of BBC News and Current Affairs.