Michael Gove has warned that modern antisemitism has "morphed" into hatred of the state of Israel.
In a speech at the UJIA fundraising dinner on Monday night, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster drew loud applause when he said: "One thing I have always been since I was a boy is a Zionist."
He added that these Zionist ideals "led me to understand why a home for the Jewish people in a country that has always been theirs is so precious".
The MP for Surrey Heath, who has stood to be Conservative leader twice, also spoke of his admiration of the Jewish people's resistance to historical persecution and prejudice.
But while attacks on Jews at the time of Spanish Inquisition had been based around religious hatred, and under the Nazis had been on racial grounds, Mr Gove said now antisemitism had found "unique expression" in anti-Israel movements.
He said: "Now antisemitism finds its unique expression in saying the Jewish people, of all peoples, cannot have a state of their own, cannot have a secure nation, cannot exercise self-determinisation.
"Antisemitism now finds its expression through the BDS movement, through the attempt to delegitimise the state of Israel, through the attempts on our campuses, in our media, and in our parliament to somehow say the Israeli state is illegitimate."
He added this had the effect of leaving "every Jewish citizen who takes pride and respect in the state of Israel.. an accomplice somehow in a criminal act."
Praising former Labour MPs Ian Austin and Luciana Berger, along with new government antisemitism adviser John Mann for their challenges to anti-Jewish racism, Mr Gove said: "All those of us who believe in democracy, in liberal values, in the essential dignity of the human individual - all of us have an obligation to call out this hate wherever we find it."
He added: "There's no surer test throughout history of whether or not society, or peoples are moving forwards into freedom and enlightenment or backwards into prejudice and hate than the attitude of people towards its Jews."
Echoing the theme of Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador to the UK who spoke earlier in the evening, Mr Gove highlighted the democratic values that "underpin" the state of Israel.
He also said that while elections took place in Israel on Tuesday, democracy rarely showed its face elsewhere in the region.
Praising the work of the UJIA under chair Louise Jacobs, Mr Gove spoke of the need to "celebrate everything that Israel and the Jewish people have brought to the life of this world and hold it dear to our hearts."
He ended his address by saying: "For as long as I have breath in my body and a platform on which to argue I shall be on your side, by your side and delighted and honoured to argue, powerfully I hope, on behalf of people who have contributed so powerfully to the life of this nation."
More than 500 guests, including Community Security Trust chair Gerald Ronson, Jewish Leadership Council chair Jonathan Goldstein and Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl, attended the event at the Grosvenor House Hotel.