UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage believes the West has “got it wrong” on Iran and that instead of sanctions Iran should have been “love-bombed”.
He said the measures taken by the United States and European Union to force Iran to forsake its nuclear ambitions were misguided and had harmed Israel.
Speaking at a JC reader event at Hasmonean Boys School in Hendon, north-west London, on Wednesday evening, Mr Farage said: “I think the West has got Iran wrong. This is pertinent to us and even more to Israel.
“The approach we have taken with sanctions has been a mistake. By putting sanctions on Iran we have helped foster the view that all the West is against it and Israel’s mates have forced Iranians into poverty.
“A more intelligent approach would have been to love-bomb Iran and give everyone free access to the internet. We can be cleverer about how we deal with issues like Iran.”
He condemned successive British governments’ foreign policies and said: “I just wonder about our whole strategy with regards to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria.
“We’ve been told through Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron that by intervening we will make the world a better, safer place. We’ve made it more unstable.
“Our intervention has added to the rhetoric that Britain and America are on the side of Israel.”
Mr Farage told the audience of around 350 people that he would not back a pre-emptive Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“I do not support acts of aggression, even from countries that feel their existence is threatened. I’d go for a non-intervention policy.”
But he added: “I’m very sympathetic to Israel because it’s surrounded by states that want to obliterate it. The Jewish people need and deserve a homeland.”
Asked what Britain would deem to be the capital of Israel under a Ukip government, Mr Farage said “no, no, no” and refused to answer.
Mr Farage was asked for his view on aliyah and British Jews who enjoy free education and health services in this country before moving to Israel.
He said olim should not be asked to repay the equivalent value but added: “If people have grown up here, benefited here and moved to Israel, they can do us a big favour — make sure Britain and Israel have better terms of trade than we have currently got. We can only do that from outside the EU because it is anti-Israel.”
A JC poll in March revealed that 71 per cent of people who say they would vote UKIP back a ban on religious slaughter, and 51 per cent support a ban on male circumcision — the only political allegiance where more than half back bans in either case.
But the MEP said he respected both practices and had worked hard in the EU to defend shechita.
“Even if that poll is correct and if 71 per cent of UKIP supporters are not comfortable with religious slaughter — perhaps because they come from a different background and it’s not their thing — that’s different to saying to your community ‘you can’t do it’,” he told the audience.
“Why would we have worked so hard with Shechita UK over many months?
“Why would we have taken the trouble to visit a Jewish slaughter house and see that, compared with mass abattoirs, the standard was very high?”
Mr Farage was unequivocal on his party’s attempts to root out extremists and former BNP members.
Responding to a question about UKIP candidates in May’s local council elections who accused Jews of engineering the Second World War and advised supporters to “read the Protocols of Zion”, he said: “We have done more than any other party in British politics to make sure there are no extremists in our ranks.
“We are the only party to actually forbid former members of the BNP or other extremist groups from joining as members.
“I’ve got that written into the constitution of the party.”
He said that of more than 1,700 new party candidates, only six had “caused us embarrassment”.
“Those half dozen who have brought the party into disrepute by breaking our charter have been got rid of. It’s as simple as that.
“Our opponents will do all they can to throw the racism and extremism card at us.
Go and look at UKIP member meetings and you will find a huge cross-section of people from right across this country.”
The growth of the party’s Friends of Israel group, and the increasing number of Jewish candidates and members stood as proof that UKIP was not a racist party, he said.
Mr Farage added: “I’m not coming here like everybody else to be fawning to the Jewish community, saying you are the most important group of people in the country — although you may be!”
Referring to David Cameron’s past description of UKIP as a party of “fruitcakes and closet racists”, he said: “I’m used to all this rubbish, to all this abuse, none of it means a damn thing.”
The public’s “loss of faith, belief and deference” in the political classes meant the country was heading for a “period of massive political change” in which UKIP would be a catalyst, he said.