What does Prime Minister Liz Truss mean for the UK's Jews?

The incoming Tory leader has a promising track record on issues close to British Jewry


Over the past few weeks pretty much every pundit under the sun has opined on what a Liz Truss government will look like – in tone, in people, in policy and in pure politics. And we do have a pretty good idea about her view on most of the traditional big issues.

But for obvious reasons, there has been little focus on the issues of specific concern to JC readers – Israel, Iran, antisemitism, kashrut, and the like. So I’ve been looking at what she has previously said and done to try to see what Prime Minister Truss will be like on those issues, and others.

Liz Truss and the Jews

Speaking last month to the JC, she revealed her long-standing friendships in Leeds, where she grew up. “I had lots of Jewish friends at school. One of my close friends eventually moved to Tel Aviv, actually. I saw him quite recently when I was on an official visit – I met up with him and he’s now a patent agent in Tel Aviv.”

She also recalled how her boss at Shell was an Orthodox Jew, calling him “the best boss I ever had and a very big influence on me. I remember that at work it was great during the winter because he would leave early for Shabbat every Friday. In the summer he was there until much later. That was one of my first experiences seeing how Jewish life could be incorporated into corporate life and it really impressed me how proud he was of his religion.”

Jewish values

Lis Truss has spoken of how she sees a natural affinity between “Jewish values” and those of Britain and, in particular, her own party: “So many Jewish values are Conservative values and British values too, for example seeing the importance of family and always taking steps to protect the family unit; and the value of hard work and self-starting and setting up your own business. The British Jewish community is incredibly proud of this country and so are Conservatives.”


Liz Truss certainly seems to be well briefed on the issues, saying she was “absolutely appalled” by last month’s JC survey revealing that antisemitic incidents in schools have tripled in the past five years.

She was “particularly disturbed” to read that Jewish children have been hissed after attending classes on the Holocaust - with many staff not knowing what this means: “There have to be mandatory policies in place and we need to make sure staff are educated to understand that. On the other hand, the rise of antisemitism isn’t only a problem for schools. We have to eradicate it in our wider society as well.

“I want to see the scourge of antisemitism eradicated. That means driving it out from our culture, starting with the schools.”

She has also spoken out about campus antisemitism.

UN anti-Israel bias

This is one of the few areas where we can look at her record. And it is good. Her claim to have taken a “strong stand in tackling antisemitism at the international level” stands up. At the UN Human Rights Council, she ensured Britain voted with Israel. “Bodies like the Human Rights Council have been used to peddle a particular agenda which frankly have strong elements of antisemitism”.

“Too many countries try to do Israel down at international fora. I’ve stood up against those countries and occasionally even gone against advice of my own Department. And other countries have followed our lead”.

To do this she says she had to “overrule” Foreign Office officials who voiced doubts, claiming it would lead to Britain becoming “isolated”.

“I’ve been very clear with our officials about the positions we take on Israel, and that will continue if I become Prime Minister.”


For all her strong words on Iran, however, she is less convincing. She has repeatedly said that the UK “cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapon. I am absolutely clear about that” and, “We have to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons. That is very, very clear.”

But that is the same language used by those who support a deal with Iran, claiming that it is the best way to stop the regime developing weapons, when in reality it plays into the Iranians’ hands. Liz Truss has not – yet? - broken with the consensus of all her recent predecessors who backed a deal.

UK-Israel relations

“I think there is no greater friend to the UK than Israel”, she has said, describing Israel as “a key part of the network of liberty that we have been seeking to establish across the world.”

She has also said that “Under my leadership, Israel will have no stauncher friend in the world. That’s what I’ve done as Foreign Secretary and Trade Secretary. I don’t just talk the talk – I walk the walk”.

It’s true that she has cemented relations as Foreign Secretary, signing a new Strategic Agreement on trade (and backing Israel at the UN). She hopes the trade deal with Israel and “through the closer connections we’re building in science and technology” will allow the Israeli start-up nation spirit “imbue itself into the British system”.

She has said she is “proud” to have visited Israel and to have worked with Iraeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid “to deepen our relationship in areas like security, areas like the economy but also working together in areas like science and technology… to solve the problems of the future”.

During the leadership campaign she also said she would "review" moving the British Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Phone charges

She has singled out the high roaming charges imposed by UK mobile phone operators reduced as “a barrier to doing business” and has said that the “whole point of trade deals is that they lower barriers of this kind, and that’s something I’m always enthusiastic about”.

She added: “I can’t go into the details of the deal, but from agriculture to technology, this is all about forging much closer links with Israel – and of course the ability to use your mobile at an affordable rate is a closer link.”

National Holocaust Memorial

She has been unambiguous and clear in her support for the proposed Holocaust memorial, saying she has “supported the National Holocaust Memorial project from the beginning and will look at proposed legislation and make sure we get it done”

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