WINDSOR – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to discuss the issue of soaring antisemitism in the UK with his British counterpart, Theresa May, during a meeting in London on Monday, according to coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud).
Speaking at the Limmud FSU conference held in Windsor, west of London, this weekend, Bitan said he believed the issue would be raised during Netanyahu’s meeting with May, to discuss what the British government is doing to reduce antisemitism in the country.
The meeting comes days after the release of an annual report by the Community Security Trust, which found that more antisemitic incidents were recorded in the United Kingdom in 2016 than ever before
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post
on the sidelines of the conference, Bitan said the increased level of antisemitism was a by-product of anti-immigrant sentiment pervading Europe and other countries around the world.
“This hate also impacts the Jews,” he said. “The problem with the Jews is that it doesn’t matter how long they have been in a country – when there is resistance to foreigners it reaches the Jews too.”
Bitan had addressed this subject in his opening remarks to conference participants, saying: “We need, in true hasbara [public diplomacy], to differentiate between the Jews who have lived in the same place for many years, and those who have just arrived as foreigners and refugees.”
Saying that xenophobia rises in correlation with the strengthening of the Right, he opined that when the anti-migrants sentiment passes, so too will antisemitism.
Bitan looked forward to a positive meeting between the prime ministers, lauding May as a true friend of Israel. He dismissed any concern over Britain’s opposition to West Bank settlements, something slated to be voiced by May during the meeting.
“The purpose of these meetings are to explain Israel’s position,” Bitan told the Post
. “It’s okay that the UK government is against it... the question is what they do about it,” he continued, stating that contrary to the Obama administration and the EU, he does not believe the British government will take any concrete steps against the settlements. “We only ask that they don’t disturb us – that they let us manage Israeli policy as we see fit.”