British Prime Minister:
'I will always stand with you'

British Prime Minister reiterates support for both Israel and the Jewish community of Britain.

Elad Benari ,

Theresa May at UJIA dinner in London
Theresa May at UJIA dinner in London

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday evening spoke at the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) Israel 70 Anniversary Dinner and reiterated that she stood with Israel and the Jewish community of Britain.

“I know some in our Jewish community say they are fearful of the future. I saw that poll on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle and it sickens me that anyone should feel like that in our country. I do not underestimate the threat posed by those who promote anti-Semitism, or hatred in any form. Nor the pernicious nature of what those people say and what they stand for,” said May.

“But I do not believe those voices speak for the vast, overwhelming majority of people in our country. I do not believe they speak for the liberal, tolerant democracy where we - together – have made our home. And most importantly, I do not believe that those voices will ever win. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, they cannot win. And – together – we will not let them win,” she stressed.

Regarding Israel, May said, “We deeply value our connections with Israeli civil society as part of the fabric that binds two democracies together.”

“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,” she continued.

“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,” stressed May.

“Indeed, as the United Kingdom forges a bold new future outside the European Union, we will be seeking free trade deals with our partners around the world. And as a great start-up nation, an engine of enterprise, a world leader in technology, and a great friend of Britain, I want to see an ambitious free trade deal between our countries.”

“But my support for Israel goes beyond economics,” said May, who said, “You can also count on my commitment to Israel’s security.”

“I understand Israel’s vulnerability because I have been there and seen it for myself. Indeed, it was during my last visit in 2014 that the bodies of the murdered teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah were discovered. So I am clear that we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself,” she stressed.

May admitted that the British government has some disagreements with the government of Israel, adding, “And like everyone here tonight, I want to see progress towards a lasting peace – a peace that must be based on a two-state solution with a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian State.”

“There will need to be courage and vision from each side if we are to have a realistic chance of achieving this goal – including an end to the building of new settlements and an end to Palestinian incitement too,” she added.

“The UK has – and will - also stand by Israel whenever it is treated unfairly at the United Nations – as we have shown at the Human Rights Council.”

“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,” May reiterated.

She also vowed to “stand with our Jewish community by rooting out the scourge of anti-Semitism here in our own country - just as I will stand with every community in Britain to fight racial and religious hatred in any form.”

"Let me be clear: you cannot claim to be tackling racism, if you are not tackling anti-Semitism. And that mission begins by being clear about what anti-Semitism 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.”

May stressed that “criticizing the actions of Israel is never – and can never be – an excuse for questioning Israel’s right to exist; any more than criticizing Britain’s actions could be an excuse for questioning our right to exist.”

“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,” she added.

“And we will not stop at calling out those who spread this hatred, whether against the Jewish community or any other racial or religious community in our country.”

May vowed to “continue to ensure we do whatever is necessary to keep our Jewish Community in Britain safe.”

“But ultimately if we are to defeat the scourge of antisemitism and all forms of hatred in our country, we need to go further than calling out and acting against the voices of hatred. We need to learn the lessons of the past and create an environment that builds empathy for others and prevents hatred from happening in the first place,” she added.

“That is one reason why it is absolutely right that there will be a National Holocaust Memorial next to our Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens. And why it is right that this Memorial will have an accompanying education center – which working in partnership with organizations across the whole country – will lead a national effort to fight hatred and prejudice in all its forms.”

In conclusion, she said, “As we approach the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, your Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur - a time of reflection - my answer to the voices of anti-Semitism is that we will defeat you. My answer to those who say they are fearful, is to say I will always stand with you.”