You are like Churchill – but heed his warnings on the Palestinians, Boris tells Israelis


London Mayor Boris Johnson delivered the inaugural annual Winston Churchill Lecture last night, at the end of his second 15-hour work day in Israel.

Ebullient, garrulous, even loving towards his Israeli hosts, Mr Johnson wove into his speech ideas that may come to be elements of a new, Johnsonian foreign policy.

Massaging his audience like putty, drawing laughs and bursts of applause, Mr Johnson stressed the qualities Mr Churchill shared with Israel— “daring, audacity, derring-do, and indomitability” but added that Mr Churchill “was sometimes wrong, as in the gold standard, abdication crisis and over India.”

He made quick work of BDS advocates, asking if anyone could imagine anything more ridiculous than a collective organised by “snaggle-toothed, corduroy-wearing lefty academics”, and moved quickly on to celebrating Israeli technological prowess, including “a crucial advance for humanity — the epilator Lady Shave”.

But back to serious business.

Churchill, Mr Johnson said, told the Jewish people that they “'had the chance to create a land flowing with milk and honey', but he warned that ‘every step that you take must therefore be for the moral and material benefit of all Palestinians’ and I think today we have to admit that the present situation does not entirely accord with that Churchillian vision – not yet.”

The speech came after a day that started with a sombre visit to Yad Vashem and included a raucus visit to Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market; fish-wrangling and polenta-whisking with chef Assaf Granit, of Soho’s Palomar; and a rainy attempt at a football match with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and two disciplined teams of Arab and Jewish ten-year-old boys who belong to a coexistence scheme sponsored by the British embassy.

Somehow, he managed to fit in a brief bike ride and a quick photo-op with Jerusalem’s triathalete mayor, Nir Barkat.

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