Communities and Local Government Secretary, Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, underlined his staunch support of Israel at a speech to mark Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut), Israel’s 69th birthday, on Sunday.
The Communities Secretary spoke about his visits to Israel with his family, on business, and with Conservative Friends of Israel in 2010, remarking that he “quickly learned to admire Israel’s extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit”. He said: “I guess necessity is the mother of invention. Because over the past 69 years, Israel really made business bloom in the barren desert. It is the ultimate start-up nation”.
Speaking about his visit to Israel with CFI, he said he was “particularly struck by the town of Sderot on Israel’s border with Gaza, which has the extraordinary nickname of the ‘bomb shelter capital of the world’. I met young Israelis who have lived their whole lives with the threat of rocket attacks. I saw bomb shelters on every street and even bombproof schools. I saw a community that was proud, defiant and determined to thrive. But it really drove home just how vulnerable the country is”.
Underlining his opposition to boycotts while Communities Secretary in 2016, Mr Javid said: “The lessons I learnt in Israel – as a traveller, businessman and politician – have profoundly shaped the way I have approached my job in Government. I admire Israel for its tenacious determination when the odds are stacked against it. But as a British Government Minister I believe we should not allow the odds to be stacked against Israel. That’s why as Secretary of State for Culture, I made it a priority to battle against cultural boycotts of Israel”.
He explained: “Some councils have decided the best way to spend taxpayers money is to devise their own municipal foreign policy and ban Israeli goods. Not only is this a complete waste of public money, it is divisive and wrong”.
Regarding the upcoming centenary of the Balfour Declaration, Mr Javid said: “A recent petition suggested Britain should be ashamed of its role in the creation of Israel after 1917. Theresa May’s response has been clear: far from apologising, Britain should feel pride”.
Condemning the rise in antisemitism, the Communities Secretary said that calls for boycotts of Israeli goods “are nothing more than a smokescreen for the oldest hatred”. He said that last year the Government “published guidance banning councils from boycotting Israeli goods”, and that earlier this year he “announced further steps we are taking to enshrine this in law”.
He emphasised: “Theresa May will always do everything possible to fight anti-semitism and keep the Jewish community safe. £13.4 million has been re-committed for Jewish community security measures, to safeguard all Jewish schools, colleges, nurseries and synagogues”.
Mr Javid also congratulated Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Mark Regev, on completing his first year in the role.