Gove tells UJIA: 'I am a proud Zionist'

By Jessica Elgot, September 22, 2011
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Lord Janner, Michael Gove

Lord Janner, Michael Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove told 700 UJIA supporters at the charity's annual dinner on Monday: "I'm proud to be a friend of Israel."

Mr Gove was the guest of honour at the London Hilton event, which raised £2.76 million for the charity's work in Israel and the UK.

He told an admiring audience that he had been a socialist in his teens and a journalist in his twenties, but one thing had remained constant in his life. "I was born, will live and die proud to be a Zionist.

"One of the more important lessons is that the best memorials we can give for the Holocaust is a Jewish state for the Jewish people." In a wide-ranging address, he also talked about faith schools, problems in the Middle East and rising antisemitism. He reiterated the pledge that "no Jewish parent should pay extra for school security".

It was "disgusting", he added, that a Jewish student at St Andrews University had been racially abused by a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. "We should condemn this vile prejudice wherever we en-counter it."

He was pleased to see Jewish free schools open in Haringey and Mill Hill. "We have so many outstanding Jewish state schools. I ask myself not what can we do to bring Jewish schools more in line with other schools, but what can we do to other state schools to make sure they learn from the amazing achievement of our Jewish state schools.

"The UJIA holds youth precious and regards education as the greatest gift one generation can bestow upon another."

Another speaker was the new Israeli amb-assador to the UK, Daniel Taub. British-born Mr Taub recalled UJIA as being "so much a part of my life growing up in one way or another. And the connection continued when I moved to Israel."

He praised the UK government for having "no truck with the travesty which is Durban III [the UN anti-racism conference, which has been a platform for anti-Zionist sentiment] and coming through on your commitment to stop the abuse of universal jurisdiction".

The inaugural UJIA Eric Finestone Young Leader Award was presented to Bnei Akiva's Ben Barron, who is heavily involved in charity fundraising.

Making the appeal, UJIA chairman Mick Davis said: "Our horizons are now constrained because our fundraising campaign has suffered these past two years.

"Many of our donors have remained steadfast, but some have given less and others have not given at all. At the same time, the pound pays for less.

"In this time of precariousness, when our children face the onslaught of antisemites and delegitimisers, when Israel is separated from its friends and when we cannot take our Jewish future for granted, UJIA and the work we do is even more important. It is crucial."

The dinner proceeds are more than half-a-million pounds up on last year and UJIA says pledges are still coming in.

Last updated: 3:17pm, September 22 2011