William Shawcross

Why Britain’s Jews love Boris

Why Britain's Jews love Boris
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Boris as PM can be a joy! He is bold, he has such enthusiasm, he has marvellous and often funny turns of phrase and he often has great instincts.  

Take for example his greetings to the Jewish people given just before Christmas on the feast of Hanukkah. It is exuberant, knowledgeable and very moving.  

Britain would not be Britain without its Jewish community. And we will stand with you and celebrate with you - at Chanukah and all year round. pic.twitter.com/S5ClRprCuL

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 22, 2019

This speech is only two minutes but all my Jewish friends are stunned by it – by his humour, his deep knowledge of their history and his total, positive embrace of their cause.  

It was all the more welcome because of what was (and still is) the greatest scandal in the Corbyn led Labour party – its astonishing and odious anti-Semitism – which has terrified the British Jewish community.

Anti-Semitism has been far less of a curse in Britain than in many European countries. It has never been a problem at the top of politics, until now. 

Labour used to be the natural home of Britain’s small but very vibrant Jewish community of some 300,000 people.  

Not since Corbyn became leader and the extreme left under Momentum took over the party. Now the party has been referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission which is investigating whether it has committed “unlawful acts” in regard to anti-Semitism. Before Labour,  the BNP was the only party thus referred. 

The Jewish Labour Movement, affiliated to Labour for almost a hundred years, stated in a terrifying report, that “Anti-Semitic behaviour is pervasive at all levels” of Corbyn’s Labour. 

The report said that the abuse used by some Labour members against Jews –  “cockroaches, subhumans, a cancer on the world” was reminiscent of Nazi Germany. 

Imagine then the horror with which British Jews anticipated a Corbyn election victory. And the relief with which Boris’s Christmas message was greeted. 

Within minutes of its release from Number 10 just before Christmas, it was being emailed far and wide. 

In his convivial manner, he praised the festival of Hanukah, which commemorates the oil of the Temple lasting miraculously long during a siege of Jerusalem by the Greek king Antiochus III. He said that he recently had the joy of baking latkes and doughnuts when he visited Golders Green during the election.   

And he pointed out, “Who can argue with a festival where the kids get presents every day of the week. “ 

More seriously, he proclaimed with the confidence of knowing the history backward, that this was the moment to celebrate not just the miracle of the oil “but also your unique identity, to put the Menorah in the window, and say to the world, just as Judah and his small band of poorly equipped Maccabees said to Antiochus III and his mighty Greek army all those years ago, ‘I am Jewish and I am proud of it’.  

Such pride and courage was really important right now “because I know that in the media, on the streets and specially online, Anti-Semites in alarming numbers have been emboldened to crawl out from under their rocks and begin to spread their brand of noxious hatred far and wide. “

He did not mention the Labour party but he did not have to. Everyone knows that it is out from under Labour rocks that some of the most vicious British anti-Semites have crawled in recent years. 

Imagine, Dame Margaret Hodge the veteran Jewish MP for Barking said that she had faced ”much more” anti-Semitism from the Labour Party than from the BNP!

All in all, Jews were so frightened of Labour before the election that 47 per cent of those polled said they would leave the country if Corbyn won.  

Many of those Jews who remained would have been frightened to proclaim their identity. 

Boris by contrast celebrates it with them. 

“As you kindle the Hanukah light tonight and in the nights to come I want you to remember this…. When the Macabees drove the forces of darkness out of Jerusalem, they had to do so on their own. 

“Today, as Britain’s Jews seek to drive back the darkness of resurgent anti Semitism, you have every decent person in this country fighting by your side.’

And why? 

“Because Britain would not be Britain without its Jewish community.

“And we will stand with you and celebrate with you all year round.” 

If the polls are correct, well over 100,000 British Jews might have fled a Corbyn government. I doubt if any will flee now.