Gove wins plaudits for defence of Israel

By Martin Bright, November 4, 2010

Education Secretary Michael Gove told British supporters of Israel this week that human rights activists and politicians were wrong to use the word "disproportionate" when talking about Israel's military response to threats to its security.

His comments will raise eyebrows among his colleagues, not least Foreign Secretary William Hague, who described Israel's assault on Lebanon in 2006 in precisely those terms.

Advocacy organisations in Britain, including Conservative Friends of Israel, have subsequently worked hard to persuade Tory politicians not to use such incendiary language.

Mr Gove expressed his concern at the annual dinner of Bicom, the British Israel Communications and Research Centre, noting that Israel was singled out for criticism by campaigners where other nations were not.

He cited China's occupation of Tibet as an example. He said he believed that the campaign to delegitimise Israel was based on "Jew hatred".

The dinner was attended by senior figures in the Jewish community and prominent figures such as Defence Secretary Liam Fox, former Labour Communities Secretary Hazel Blears andTony Blair's political director, Matthew Doyle.

Last updated: 4:49pm, November 4 2010