Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum celebrated Chanukah last night in the Houses of Parliament at a reception organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
More than 100 people – including representatives from across Parliament and the Jewish community – gathered at the event hosted by Baroness Merron, to hear speeches by Minister of State for Immigration Robert Jenrick, Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Daisy Cooper and Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely.
Robert Jenrick paid tribute to the Jewish community. He said: “In every walk of life, in every field of endeavour, our nation could have no more generous citizens and no more faithful friends than the Jewish community. And that’s why I’m particularly glad to have the opportunity to say thank you in a small way for all that you’ve done and all that you do across the country in every major national or international institution in every local community.”
He pledged that the Government would press ahead with legislation on online hate and to prohibit boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. “We as a government and cross party are absolutely determined to root out online hate through the new online safety bill that many in this room have campaigned to ensure.”
He added: “We’ve made the first steps this year as a Government and are committed to bring forward a broader bill next year, to make sure that that BDS is consigned to history in this country.”
Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds praised the Board of Deputies actions in countering antisemitism. She said: “We’ve seen the strong, powerful response of the Board of Deputies to appallingly intolerant and hateful behaviour, and we must all do more, especially at a time when, disturbingly, much of that behaviour seems to be increasing and emboldened, including online. We have to stand up for the marginalised and ensure those in a minority have a voice. The story of Chanukah teaches us why this is so important.
Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely told the reception that this was a good time for relations between the UK and Israel. “Bilateral relations are flourishing in so many aspects and we are working on a new trade deal. We cooperate on so many things on a daily basis.”
Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl told guests she was delighted to see “representatives from the political and diplomatic worlds alongside interfaith partners and colleagues from a wide spectrum of the Jewish community”.
She added: “We all look forward to working to build even stronger relationships and to tackle these difficult times together.”
Also speaking were Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews Dame Margaret Hodge, Baroness Merron, Board of Deputies of British Jews Chief Executive Michael Wegier and Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence. Rabbi Lawrence lit the Chanukah candles on a Chanukiah kindly loaned by House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and led the singing of Maoz Tzur.
Image credit: Gary Perlmutter
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