UK JNF head: Cameron resigned due to anti-Israel pressure

Samuel Hayek, chairman of JNF UK: “Mr. Cameron’s decision is a clear, politically motivated attack on Israel and this is a worrying development.”

By JONNY PAUL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
June 26, 2011 04:42
2 minute read.
British Prime Minister David Cameron.

David Cameron 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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LONDON – The chairman of the Jewish National Fund in the UK has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of capitulating to pressure from anti-Israel activists as the real motivation behind his resignation as patron of the Jewish charity.

Earlier this month, the prime minister stepped down as patron of the organization, explaining he had left a number of charities because of his workload. In a statement, he denied that political pressure led to his decision.

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Samuel Hayek, chairman of JNF UK, said the decision was “disappointing,” particularly given “the obvious pressure he came under to do so from anti-Israel activists.”

He said that following a recent meeting with some of the prime minister’s top advisers at 10 Downing Street, it became clear that wider issues forced Cameron’s decision.

“Although the full contents of the meeting must remain confidential, it was made perfectly clear to me and my colleagues that the issue was not simply JNF,” he said.

“There were wider issues in play which touched on both the domestic and global political agendas, and the Middle East in particular.

“Mr. Cameron’s decision is a clear, politically motivated attack on Israel and this is a worrying development,” Hayek said.

He also questioned the response from the Jewish community leadership and other organizations for not speaking out.

At the time, the Conservative Friends of Israel refuted the claim that Cameron succumbed to pressure, saying his withdrawal had been blown out of proportion and that Cameron is a true friend of Israel.


“What is equally as concerning, however, is the lack of vocal opposition to his decision from the lay leadership of British Jewry and other key communal organizations,” Hayek said.

The JNF head pointed out that previous British prime ministers have come under similar pressure but did not behave like Cameron.

“It is not just past prime ministers such as Tony Blair and Cameron who have been – and remain – honorary patrons of JNF. It is also opposition party leaders.”

Cameron became a patron of JNF five years ago when he was leader of the Conservative Party, which was then in opposition.

“Mr. Cameron has endorsed the work of JNF in the past, writing a letter of support in July 2010 in which he said ‘I would like to commend JNF UK for the excellent work it does to support the communities of Israel,’” Hayek said.

While the JNF’s activities have remained the same, Cameron’s attitude towards Israel has changed, he said.

“It is a shame that Mr. Cameron does not want to be associated to one of the world’s oldest Zionist organizations that works on a daily basis to develop the State of Israel and improve the lives of all her citizens, irrespective of race, religion, gender, creed or ethnicity,” he said.

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