Boris declares war on racists in Gaza protests

By Ben Jaglom, February 18, 2009
Boris Johnson with Rabbi Thomas Salamon (left) and Howard Leigh

Boris Johnson with Rabbi Thomas Salamon (left) and Howard Leigh

Boris Johnson has condemned those who have used the Gaza conflict as a platform for antisemitism.

Addressing a dinner at Westminster Synagogue which raised £75,000, the London Mayor said: “I deplore efforts to import the bullying, hatred and divisiveness found in the Middle East to the streets of London”.

Synagogue chairman and Tory Party treasurer Howard Leigh described the mayor as a “passionate Zionist” and made joking reference to his Jewish ancestry. “Should he wish to join the synagogue, we have membership packs outside and some of Britain’s finest surgeons in the room.”

Senior rabbi Thomas Salamon praised Mr Johnson for scrapping the Western extension of the congestion charge, which had impacted on the shul.

Business leaders such as Warner Bros Entertainment UK president and managing director Josh Berger among the 220 audience also heard the mayor attack Labour’s handling of the economic crisis, accusing the government of “fire-hosing money” at the problem. Criticising the recent “orgy of banker-bashing”, he added: “We must remember that people make mistakes and that the City of London contributes 13 per cent of the country’s GDP.”

And having arrived by bicycle, he gave impassioned support for the creation of additional cycling resources in the capital. “One of my main plans as mayor is to widen facilities for cyclists and in doing so, I hope to make London a more scenic city”.

Another speaker was Israeli deputy ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher, who recalled Mr Johnson’s stand against an academic boycott during his days on the Tory front bench.

Last updated: 1:20pm, March 10 2009