British Prime Minister Theresa May has said there were “no excuses for any kind of hatred towards the Jewish people” in her first official comments, after the row about anti-Semitism which has engulfed the Labour Party all summer, The Times of Israel reported.
In a passionate speech to more than 800 dignitaries at Monday’s United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) dinner in central London, the PM stated: “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.”
May continued: “One of the most sickening aspects of the antisemitism that tries, abhorrently, to suggest Israel is a racist endeavour – is that those voices seek to separate the Jewish diaspora in our country from their connection with Israel.”
Calling Israel a racist endeavor is one of the examples of anti-Semitism listed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition.
In an open attack on opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Prime Minister observed that she was “sickened” by the fact that Jewish people are “fearful of the future” in Britain and warned that “you cannot claim to be tackling racism, if you are not tackling anti-Semitism.”
A recent poll by The Jewish Chronicle found that almost 40 percent of British Jews would seriously consider emigrating, if Corbyn became prime minister. May told the audience that “in the face of any kind of hatred against the Jewish people – in any form and anywhere, whether overseas or right here in our own country – I say … ‘Je suis Juif.’”
The Prime Minister said, however, that despite the hostile climate towards Jews in the Labour Party, Britain was still a safe place for the community. “I do not underestimate the threat posed by those who promote antisemitism, or hatred in any form. Nor the pernicious nature of what those people say and what they stand for,” she charged.
“But I do not believe those voices speak for the vast, overwhelming majority of people in our country…And most importantly, I do not believe that those voices will ever win. We will not let them win.”
In a clear reference to an anti-Semitic comment made by the Labour leader in 2013 – Corbyn charged at a Hamas-advertised conference that British Jews have “no sense of irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time” – the Prime Minister said: “Nothing excuses antisemitism – not comedy, not satire – not even irony.”
May continued: “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.”
The Prime Minister concluded by vowing that her government wanted to boost trade ties with Israel, “deepening our links in particular in sectors like agriculture, health, science, technology and innovation.”
[Photo: Jonathan Sacerdoti / YouTube ]