Cameron's Cabinet: Who are they?
The new Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed his new cabinet today, in a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.
The Prime Minister David Cameron has chosen his new cabinet
Our run-down on how the new cabinet feel on key Jewish issues, including Israel, universal jurisdiction, faith schools and Islamic extremism.
Prime Minister, Conservatives
David Cameron talked warmly of finding his Jewish roots and said he had spoken about them to one of Britain’s leading rabbinical authorities.
Last July, Yaakov Wise of Manchester University’s Centre for Jewish Studies traced Mr Cameron’s family tree to 16th-century Jewish scholar Elijah Levit.
The Tory leader consulted Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, former head of the London Beth Din, about his roots, a meeting he called “one of the highlights of my year”.
Mr Cameron’s great-great-grandfather, Emile Levita, was a German émigré banker who became a British citizen in 1871.
In an interview with the JC, Mr Cameron promised to ban extremist Islamist groups, refuse visas to hate preachers and insisted that universities identify and root out radicals promoting violence, antisemitism and other racial intolerance on campus.
He also voiced his opposition to the Goldstone Report, claiming it had been biased against Israel and not enough blame had been placed on Hamas.
However, in an interview with the FT, Mr Cameron said he agreed with US President Barack Obama’s tough line with Israel on the issue of settlements.
He said: “Unlike a lot of politicians from Britain who visit Israel, when I went, I did stand in occupied East Jerusalem and actually referred to it as ‘occupied East Jerusalem’. The Foreign Office bod who was with me said most ministers don’t dare say that.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrats
Many members of the Jewish community have voiced fears about Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s attitude towards Israel and towards faith schools.
He drew praise for his swift action in sacking controversial peer Jenny Tonge as the party’s health spokesperson in the Lords over her demands for an investigation into allegations that the Israel Defence Forces in Haiti were harvesting body parts.
But many felt the action was not stern enough, as Mr Clegg refused to remove the whip from Baroness Tonge because he did not believe her remarks were antisemitic.
He told the JC that his party's criticism of Operation Cast Lead stemmed from a concern that Israel was damaging its international reputation: “When I speak out over Gaza, for example, it is because I genuinely feel that Israel's policy runs counter to its best interests. That is not a view unheard of amongst the Jewish community."
His party’s manifesto to make faith schools more inclusive raised alarm in the community. He said: “In practice, we want local councils to work with these schools to find ways to ensure that faith schools are inclusive, so that pupils are not cut off from the wider community and so children from the local area who are not necessarily of that faith can still access the school."
Foreign Secretary, Conservatives
The new Foreign Secretary will make the Middle East a priority, and has not ruled out action against Iran, which could be a sticking point with his coalition partners.
He told the JC during the election campaign: “Yes, we are friends of Israel. We are concerned that if a two-state solution is not arrived at soon, then it will never be. That would not be in the long-term interests of Israel and that is why we want to see all parties involved being prepared to negotiate."
He was criticised by members of the community in 2006 when he criticised Israel's "disproportionate" response to Hizbollah attacks.
He pledged to take an active role in the peace process, saying that he did not think there has been a strong enough British engagement with it in recent times.
He also called the Labour government's handling of the Tzipi Livni arrest warrant issue "ridiculous", "embarrassing" and "disappointing", and pledged that a Tory administration would "put it right" and "act speedily".
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservatives
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne is a vocal supporter of Israel. He recently told an audience at Jewish Care “Over the next couple of years, the state of Israel is going to face all sorts of challenges and I want you to know I am a good friend of Israel.”
He spoke warmly of his visit to the country with the Conservative Friends of Israel, speaking of “the miracle created in the desert there”.
He is also known to be an advocate for faith schools, sending his three-year-old daughter Liberty to St Peter's Eaton Square, a Church of England school.
Defence Secretary, Conservatives
Liam Fox is a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel and has said: “Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall, divided."
He has taken a tough stand on Iran, saying the world must not permit the country to acquire nuclear weapons.
Education Secretary, Conservatives
Michael Gove received the ZF’s Jerusalem Prize in 2008, having been praised for his warm support for Israel.
He was widely praised as Shadow Education Minister for his commitment to faith schools and for the Conservative manifesto pledge to make it much easier for parents to start their own schools.
In the manifesto, permission for new schools will be granted directly by the Secretary of State for Education, bypassing the local authorities.
This would enable parents, who currently suffering from a lack of places in Jewish schools for their children, to create Jewish schools in areas where a shortage of places has meant children have to travel long distances to get a place.
He also pledged to step up security for Jewish schools, saying: “The idea that hardworking parents have to pay money to keep their children safe... No! I promise to make sure they are safe. They will not have to pay for security."
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liberal Democrats
David Laws, who was the Lib Dem Shadow Education spokesman and had previously been tipped for Education Secretary, has been a wary supporter of faith schools and led the debate at the 2009 Liberal Democrat conference on the subject.
“Liberal Democrats will defend the role of faith schools in state education. But state funded prejudice is not a freedom that liberals or Liberal Democrats should feel the need to justify or tolerate.”
Department of Work and Pensions, Conservatives
Iain Duncan-Smith, the former Conservative leader, is a member of CFI and has recently praised the work of the CST.
He previously told a CFI meeting: “Fair weather friends have run for cover. Not the Conservatives.”
OTHER APPPOINTMENTS SO FAR
● Vince Cable, Business Secretary, Liberal Democrats
● Theresa May, Home Secretary, Conservatives
● Danny Alexander, Secretary of State for Scotland, Liberal Democrats
● Ken Clarke, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Conservatives
● Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary, Conservatives
● Dominic Grieve, Attorney General, Conservatives
● Chris Grayling, Minister of State at DWP, Conservatives
● Patrick McLoughlin, Chief Whip, Conservatives
● Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Conservatives