Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak: Forces in Britain are using Gaza for their own divisive agenda

‘I will always protect British values and the Jewish community’


'It is the public’s expectation that the Met will not merely manage these protests, but police them' (Photo: Getty)

April 22, 2024 12:21

As we welcome the beginning of Passover, I want to recognise the extraordinarily challenging times being faced by Jews here and in Israel. The traditional celebration that Passover represents – of the survival of Jews under oppression throughout the generations – feels particularly poignant this year.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that we marked the grim milestone of six months since the terrorist outrage of October 7 – the most appalling attack in Israel’s history, and the worst loss of Jewish life since the Second World War. It was a terrible reminder that there are still those determined to kill Jews just for being Jews.

We support, absolutely, Israel’s right to defend itself against all those who threaten its people – and all those who pose an existential threat to Israel’s future. That is why the UK took part in joint military action to protect Israel against the senseless attack by Iran last weekend. I am proud that we played our part in protecting Israel and the whole region from Tehran’s attempt to wreak havoc.

It’s also why we have introduced tough new sanctions on Iran, including a travel ban and asset freeze on seven individuals and six entities – many of whom are involved in drone and missile programmes.

Our focus is on de-escalation which is essential and in everyone’s interests.

Last week I spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu to express our solidarity with Israel in the face of Iran’s attack. I also spoke to the RAF crew who shot down the Iranian weapons sent to cause death and destruction in Israel. I expressed my gratitude for their skill and bravery.

To Prime Minister Netanyahu, I reiterated our deep concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza – and the need to deliver a humanitarian pause. That is the fastest way to get hostages out, flood aid in, and end the bloodshed. A long-term sustainable ceasefire is the first step to setting the region onto a better path but that will require Hamas to no longer be in charge of Gaza and Israel’s security to be guaranteed.

I know the situation in the Middle East is a concern for everyone across the UK. But today I want to recognise the fear it will cause for British Jews in particular.

This is particularly apparent in the reverberations these events have had on our streets.

I’ve spoken before about the intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence faced by Jewish communities. I’ve been shocked by reports of Jewish children being fearful to wear their school uniform lest it reveal their identity, or of Jewish businesses being vandalised. There are also the terrifying reports by Community Security Trust, which recorded 4,103 antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2023 alone. I share your shock, and anger, that a police officer is telling people that being openly Jewish is provocative. That’s wrong, unconscionable and goes against the multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracy we are.

Britain is a patriotic, liberal, democratic society with a proud past and a bright future. But there are forces here at home trying to tear us apart. Since October 7 there have been those trying to take advantage of the very human angst that we all feel about the terrible suffering that war brings to the innocent, to women and children, to advance a divisive, hateful ideological agenda.

I will always protect British values and the Jewish community. That’s why I recently pledged to provide more than £70 million over the next four years to the Community Security Trust to protect Jewish community sites, as part of the Jewish Community Protective Security Grant.

I have also met with senior police officers and made clear that it is the public’s expectation that they will not merely manage these protests, but police them – and that we will back them when they take action. In the light of recent events, this government will be reinforcing this message to all our police forces, starting with the Met.

I know something of what it is like to be part of a community that integrates with others from all backgrounds in society – and that makes such an extraordinary contribution to our proud multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracy. That’s one reason why supporting Britain’s Jewish community feels so personal to me.

So I pledge once again to the Jewish community: I am with you. And we will take the necessary steps to ensure that you feel safe, cherished and celebrated – because it is right, and because it is what you deserve.

Chag Pesach Sameach.

Rishi Sunak is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party

April 22, 2024 12:21

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