Michael Gove delivered a thinly-veiled rebuke to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at last night’s UJIA annual dinner, warning: “Antisemitism is finding expression in our Parliament.”
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who was introduced on stage by Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, delivered a passionate and wide-ranging speech, without notes, reflecting on how antisemitism has “morphed” over the centuries to what it is today – “claiming Jewish people, of all peoples, cannot have their own state, cannot have a secure nation, cannot exercise self-determinisation.”
Gove, who also warmly praised the work of UJIA chair Louise Jacobs, added: “Today, antisemitism finds expression through the boycott divestment and sanctions movement, in our media and in our Parliament. There is a point of view in these areas that says the Israeli state is illegitimate and every Jewish citizen of Britain who takes pride and has respect for all that Israel has achieved is somehow an accomplice in a criminal act.”
He warned: “There’s no surer test throughout history of whether or not society, or peoples are moving forwards into freedom and enlightenment or backwards into prejudice and hate than the attitude of people towards its Jews.”
Gove, who strongly identified as a proud Zionist throughout his speech, drew warm applause by concluding: “For as long as I have breath in my body and a platform on which to argue I shall be on your side, by your side and delighted and honoured to argue, powerfully I hope, on behalf of people who have contributed so powerfully to the life of this nation.”
Jewish Leadership Council chair Jonathan Goldstein, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Community Security Trust chair Gerald Ronson were among 1,000 guests at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.