UK Jews ‘dismayed by Cameron calling Gaza ‘a prison camp'

Chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Jonathan Sacks gives comments during Shabbat sermon.

August 9, 2010 02:04
2 minute read.
UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

jonathan sacks 311. (photo credit: AP)


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The Jewish community in Britain was “dismayed” by recent comments made by Prime Minister David Cameron regarding the Gaza Strip, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, said on Sunday.

Cameron met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on July 27, and during a press conference the two held described Gaza as a “prison camp.”

'Gaza cannot remain a prison camp'
Opinion: David Cameron looking both ways

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During a Shabbat sermon at St John’s Wood synagogue this weekend, Sacks urged Cameron to maintain “balance” when discussing the Middle East.

“In a wide ranging sermon, the chief rabbi made a passing reference to the dismay many in the Jewish community and far beyond feel about the prime minister’s comments on Gaza,” The Telegraph quoted the spokeswoman for Sacks as saying.

"The chief rabbi emphasized the importance that previous prime ministers have always placed on displaying balance, even when being forthright,” the spokeswoman said.

During his meeting with Erdogan, Cameron also criticized the Israel Navy’s May 31 raid on the Gaza protest flotilla as “completely unacceptable.”

“The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions,” he said. “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”

Sacks was accused by Conservatives in the past as being loyal to Labor, after he was granted peerage by then-prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009.

Cameron’s remarks were also criticized by a leading pro-Israel group from his own political camp last week.

According to The Guardian, Stuart Polak, director of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said that “in calling Gaza a prison camp, [Cameron] has failed to address Hamas’s role in creating the Gaza we see today.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor issued a statement immediately following Cameron’s visit to Turkey, saying, “The people of Gaza are the prisoners of the terrorist organization Hamas. The situation in Gaza is the direct result of Hamas’s rule and priorities.

“We know that the prime minister would also share our grave concerns about our own prisoner in the Gaza Strip, Gilad Schalit, who has been held hostage there for over four years, without receiving a single Red Cross visit.”

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