On Monday, CFI hosted hustings with leadership candidate Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak MP as he competes with Rt. Hon. Liz Truss MP to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party. CFI Parliamentary Chairman in the House of Lords, Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles chaired the event which was followed by as many as 230 people in person and via a live stream.
The former Chancellor addressed CFI supporters, reaffirming his support for Israel and the Jewish community and answering questions on a wide variety of topics, stating that “you will have my total commitment that I will fight very hard for the security of people in Israel”. Click here to re-watch the hustings in full.
Rishi Sunak spoke of his efforts as Local Government Minister to prevent BDS being implemented by local authorities and when asked about legislation to prohibit BDS, he said: “It’s a manifesto commitment, it shouldn’t be controversial, and I’d like to crack on and do it as quickly as possible”.
During the hustings, Mr Sunak spoke about the possibility of moving the British Embassy to Jerusalem, stating: “To me it is undisputedly the historic capital, clearly there’s a very strong case for it to be recognised… so it is something I would like to do”.
Addressing Iran’s malign activities, Mr Sunak stated he believes that the idea the JCPOA will pass in its current form is “low” and that as Prime Minister, he would work with the United States to make sure “we put snapback sanctions on the table”. Calling Iran a “major threat”, he said we have to recognise the role they play in “funding terrorism and supporting terrorism” and that if “we’ve proscribed Hezbollah and Hamas… there’s an argument for proscribing… the parent organisation [the IRGC]”.
Pledging to be “tougher” in “calling out behaviour” by the Palestinian Authority, Mr Sunak said: “It upsets me that there’s an organisation which glorifies terrorist attacks on Israel, spreads hate in its schools and we need to call that out and look at what the UN does to support it and make sure that they’re accountable with the funding and the resources that they get and how they’re using it.
Rishi highlighted the importance of Holocaust education for future generations and committed to legislating, if necessary, to ensure construction begins on the proposed National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Westminster. He also spoke of his previous successful efforts as minister to secure funds to ensure free entrance to the Learning Centre in perpetuity.
Citing recent reports on the rise of antisemitism in schools, Mr Sunak committed to continuing funding for the Community Security Trust, though it was “sad” that the CST was so necessary. He stated he “will do everything to root out antisemitism out and protect people”. He also referenced clauses in a forthcoming free speech bill for university campuses, which would institute an accountability framework for dealing with antisemitism on campuses, as “there’s no point having these things if you can’t actually enforce them and hold people to account”.
In case you missed it, you can read the personal letters the two candidates wrote to CFI’s supporters here.