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Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson praises 'remarkable' Israel at London birthday party

Country's achievements and bond with UK celebrated by 1,600 guests at Yom Ha'atzmaut event

    Gavin Williamson with Bnei Akiva members
    Gavin Williamson with Bnei Akiva members

    Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told more than 1,600 guests at Bnei Akiva's Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha’atzmaut event at Kinloss in Finchley that “what Israel has achieved in a mere seven decades is nothing short of remarkable.

    "From those founding fathers who turned the desert into an oasis after the darkest period in Jewish history, Israel has blossomed.”

    He went on to describe Israel as a “light unto the nations”, exporting its achievements around the world. He highlighted the work of Israeli NGO Innovation:Africa, which “gives the gift of electricity and clean water to remote African villages”, adding that Israeli humanitarian relief teams were often the first to support victims of natural disasters.

    Not only did Britain and the UK face shared security threats - “our relationship is underpinned by a shared sense of values: justice, compassion, tolerance”.

    Moreover,  the UK-Israel relationship was the “cornerstone of so much of what we do in the Middle East”.

    Referring to this week's antisemitism debate in Parliament, Mr Williamson stressed the government's “zero-tolerance approach to racist ideology” and its commitment "to fighting antisemitism wherever it raises its ugly head. Antisemitism is a cancer within our society and it needs to be rooted out."

    He concluding by praising Bnei Akiva for its commitment and leadership.

    Israeli ambassador Mark Regev and Chief Rabbi also addressed the event, the former hailing the “strong and enduring relationship between Israel and the UK”, which made both  “healthier, smarter and safer”.

    There was dancing to the music of Eli Tamir.

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