As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert jets to London, Paris and Berlin for talks with European leaders I have travelled in the opposite direction – to Tel Aviv. I’m in Israel until Thursday evening as part of a delegation organised by the Conservative Friends of Israel. CFI regularly organises trips for MPs to Israel and previous CFI guests include Michael Ancram, Liam Fox and William Hague. The members of this visiting party are David Amess, Stephen Crabb, David Davies, Nadine Dorries and Mark Harper. Robert Halfon and Victoria Kluk are our CFI hosts.
Our four day visit will include visits to the controversial security fence, the Holocaust museum and the Israel-Lebanon border. We’ll be meeting representatives of the Palestinian Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and members of the Knesset. I plan to file reports at the end of each day. My hotel room has internet access and I may do some UK-related posting but Sam Coates – with some help from William Norton – will be largely running ConservativeHome whilst I’m away. Please email Sam if you have urgent business for the site.
Visits begin tomorrow so before then, for this first ‘ConservativeHome in Tel Aviv’, I thought I’d highlight extracts from a wide-ranging speech that David Cameron made to the British Board of Deputies last week (as reported by London’s Jewish Chronicle):
- Mr Cameron “pledged his support for the continuance of state-aided faith schools”;
- He noted “an increase in hostility towards youngsters whose only crime is to be visibly Jewish” and continued: “I would like to offer some advice to those people who, by their words and actions, create a climate in which discrimination can be legitimised. Whether they are lecturers urging boycotts against Israeli academics or mayors offering platforms to preachers of hate, I say ‘you should be careful because you are wrecking our society.’” Speaking exclusively to the JC, Mr Cameron said: “I think sometimes people can take their comments against Israel so far that it pushes over into anti-semitism and gives anti-Semitism room to breathe”;
- The Tory leader also gave an unequivocal commitment to shechitah – religious slaughter of animals.