Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson praises Israel trade growth


Ruth Davidson paid tribute to Arthur Balfour as “another great Scottish Conservative” at the Board of Deputies annual dinner on Monday.

The Scottish Tory leader made her comments during a wide-ranging conversation with James Harding, the director of BBC news and current affairs.“I’ve welcomed to my own constituency,” she said, “the Shalom International Festival which, as well as celebrating Judaism, also invites performers over from Israel to make sure that the cultural exchange is there.

“We’ve seen a 60 per cent rise in trade between Scotland and Israel in the last 10 years — it’s now about £120 million a year — and these are the sorts of things we want to build on.”

Ms Davidson said it was important to be a “critical friend” in the international community, and backed Theresa May’s comments on “the unacceptability of building illegal settlements”

The celebrations to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration would be “a really positive way forward,” she added.

The anniversary would “give us space in the public discourse to talk about how Israel is a force for good as a democratic country”.

Echoing comments made in an interview with the JC last week, Ms Davidson also paid tribute to how Scottish political parties had shown a no-tolerance approach to antisemitism.

“One of the things I’m proud of in Scotland is that there is actually political leadership against this. You often see politicians kick lumps out of each other but, actually, when it comes to stuff that matters, such as providing that sort of leadership, I think in Scotland we’ve done quite well.

“Because we’ve got a very small Jewish community — less than 6,000 — and it’s very concentrated, but it’s had some great champions from all the parties down the years.”

Jonathan Arkush, Board president, thanked the many dignitaries from the religious and political spheres who attended the dinner.

“Most of all, though, I want to thank you,” he told the audience.

“Without you there would be no Board of Deputies. We would not be able to serve our community, our community’s future, which is also your future.

“It is an honour to speak forthrightly for our community on every relevant issue.”

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