London Mayor Boris Johnson at Western Wall.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson released an official greeting to Jews in the UK and across the world on Wednesday hours ahead of the Jewish new year, which was celebrated in households all over Israel Wednesday evening.
"I wish Jewish friends in the UK and around the world a Shana Tova u-Metuka- a Happy and Sweet Jewish New Year!" the foreign secretary, who boasts of Jewish ties on his mother's side, wrote.
"Every New Year is a time for reflection," Johnson continued. "New Year is also a time to make resolutions, and I am going to share three of mine with you," he confided. "Bear down on the scourge of antisemitism, both at home and abroad," he vowed, "build the strongest ever relationship between the UK and Israel and celebrate the UK's Jewish community, a community that has made an enormous contribution to British society."
Johnson continued to laud the Jewish community in Britain, writing that "As we enter the Jewish Year 5778, I reflect on the Jewish community we have here in the UK: A community which contributes so much to our society, in every field."
The British foreign secretary then went on to divulge his affection for the Jewish state and share his own personal connection to the land of the Jewish people. "I.... reflect on what a good friend the UK has in Israel. My own relationship with Israel goes back to when I worked on a Kibbutz as a young adult, and it was a privilege to work with many partners in Tel Aviv as Mayor of London as it is now as Foreign Secretary with the State of Israel."
Johnson concluded his greeting by saying that he looked ahead to further boost the warm ties Israel and the UK share. "In the coming year, there are two significant anniversaries in UK-Israel relations," he wrote. "November will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration and in May the 70th Anniversary of Israel’s Independence."
"Marking these anniversaries is an opportunity to show not only is our friend Israel here to stay," he noted, "but that the UK and Israel are going to continue to work together, to grow together and to thrive together."
Johnson has been an avid supporter of Israel, and in March during a diplomatic visit to the country he relayed similar messages of support. The foreign secretary met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time, and told The Jerusalem Post
that he has "long-standing support and admiration for Israel." He also told the Post
that he conveyed to Netanyahu that the government of Theresa May pledges "rock-solid support."
While he visited Israel in the capacity of his role as then-Mayor of London in 2015, Johnson made a stop at the Western Wall, where he told Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz: “Yes, I have Jews in my family from Moscow, some of them rabbis,” adding that they were from his mother's side.
Britain's Johnson starts visit to Israel and the West Bank (credit: REUTERS)
Britain under Prime Minister Theresa May has strengthened its relationship with Israel, despite May's open criticism of the latter's expanded settlement construction in recent years. Just last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended his support to May and to the people of Britain after a terror attack took place in London's metro, injuring 22 people. "We stand with PM May and the people of Britain in our common fight against the forces of terror," he wrote.
Steve Linde contributed to this report.