Israel and UK flags.
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
LONDON – The UK Jewish Leadership Council lauded Monday’s meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his British counterpart, Theresa May, saying that meetings of this kind strengthen bonds between the two countries.
“We are proud that the UK Prime Minister is meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Simon Johnson, chief executive of the council, told The Jerusalem Post Monday, adding that such encounters are “always welcome.”
“It is our hope that Britain will remain at the front line in protecting Israel and standing against Iran’s dangerous destabilizing policies in the Middle East,” Johnson said. “The complex nature of the challenges in the region and those faced by Israel in particular should be high up on their agenda.”
Addressing reports that Britain had a key role in the drafting of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 against settlements, Johnson said the council has already expressed its concerns on the matter to the government. “It now remains to be seen whether the resolution will have any impact,” he said.
Regarding the annual Community Security Trust report released Thursday, which found record levels of antisemitism in Britain, Johnson said that while there was evidently more work to be done, he placed his confidence in the government.
Describing the causes behind the rise in anti-Jewish sentiment as “varied and complex,” Johnson said the recent figures reflect a general post-Brexit atmosphere in the UK, which led to a rise in discrimination across the board, affecting other communities as well.
He opined that the many headlines surrounding the Labour Party and its struggle with antisemitism last year played a role in emboldening “those who seek to engage in antisemitic activity.”
But he highlighted his view that the positive outweighed the negative, and that Jewish life is thriving in the country. “Our community is able to host public events, work with the government and build new institutions,” he said.
“The UK Government has been hugely supportive of the Jewish community,” he asserted, mentioning investments it has made in protecting Jewish schools and buildings. “We are grateful for their continued efforts. We receive the full support we need from the government, parliament and the police, and we have the ability to raise any concerns as and when they arise,” he added, saying that the authorities and communal organizations would work together to combat the rise of the phenomenon.