Now the election is over – the best is yet to come for UK-Israel ties

Israeli and British flags (Jewish News)
Israeli and British flags (Jewish News)

Lord Sacks, in a debate in the House of Lords said for Antisemitism to become a problem in society three things had to happen. Firstly, Antisemitism spreads from the fringes to a mainstream political party. Secondly, that those who oppose it are vilified and shouted down. Finally, that the party’s support is not diminished by the row. At ten o’clock on the evening of 12th December 2019 the British people passed the test by rejecting Labour, in part due to Mr Corbyn’s failure to address the problem. I hope that Labour will react constructively and at last expel the malign influence that has done so much to damage the party.

This movement from the shadows into broad daylight of Antisemitism explains the present Government’s decision not to try and contain the evil but to push back against it. BDS has not been much of a success in discouraging trade between the UK and Israel. Since the foundation of BDS trade between our two countries has grown to the benefit of all. However there has always been a strong element of of wink wink nudge nudge racism about BDS. Not so much about the dispute over contested territories but more about disrupting Israel from the river to the sea. Individuals remain totally free to boycott Israeli goods if they choose to do so. But henceforth the government will ensure that public bodies will be legally excluded from doing so.

The government will continue with it’s commitment to support CST to ensure the safety of Jewish citizens. Similarly, the substantial support to Holocaust remembrance and education will be there. The commitment to build a new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens was specifically mentioned in the Conservative Party’s 2019 Manifesto. Subject to a final decision by the Secretary of State’s nominee I would expect a decision by next Summer and construction to begin fairly soon there in after.

Over the past decade Israel and the UK have grown use to working together. Our association with the start up nation of the Middle East will be of great assistance to us Post Brexit. Close as our two governments are I doubt there has ever been a more pro Israeli Cabinet than the present one. In an uncertain world our cooperation in tech, medicine, pharmaceuticals and defence is a great point of strength.

To quote the PM the best is yet to come.


About the Author
Lord Eric Pickles is the former Communities Secretary, and ex-Parliamentary chair of Conservative Friends of Israel. He is the current Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues and co-chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation's advisory board.