Cleverly pours scorn on ‘apartheid state’ slur in Conservative Friends of Israel speech

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Cleverly pours scorn on ‘apartheid state’ slur in Conservative Friends of Israel speech

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was one of six cabinet ministers to speak out in support of the state of Israel at CFI's conference reception at the Tory Party conference in Manchester

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

James Cleverly speaks at CFI reception in Manchester
James Cleverly speaks at CFI reception in Manchester

James Cleverly has poured scorn on the claim that Israel operates as an “apartheid state”  in a speech delivered at a packed Conservative Friends of Israel reception.

Speaking at Monday night’s Tory Party conference event in Manchester, the foreign secretary recalled how;”The first experience I had in the ‘apartheid state’ of Israel.. was the Islamic call to prayer from the mosque next to our hotel.”

He added:”I’m looking at Arab Israelis.. and just next to them were bikini clad Israelis… in perfect peace and harmony.

“That was a really, really impressive moment for me. It encapsulated why we remain a staunch defender of Israel.

“It is a Jewish state, but it’s a Jewish state where there are Christians, Muslims, Jewish and secular people.”

Cleverly was one six cabinet ministers to speak at the CFI event, which attracted over 500 attendees, once again proving itself to be one of the most popular fringe events at Tory party conference.

There was controversy also in an inflammatory speech given by Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall. Tory London mayor candidate sparks fury with ‘Jewish community frightened of Khan’ claim

Speaking ahead of Hall, Leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt had pointedly warned about the danger of “conspiracy theories and misinformation directed towards Israel and the Jewish community.”

She added:”We need to get much more sophisticated in how we combat these lies.”

Mordaunt said steps had been taken in the House of Commons to “combat this misinformation.”

In her speech home secretary Suella Braverman told the audience:”When we read the story of Israel and what Israel represents it is something unique to our world. Israel is defying the odds…. democracy, freedom, strength and courage.

She added:”These values and that spirit of of Israel here in the UK is something unparalleled and incredibly powerful.”

CFI’s parliamentary Chairman Stephen Crabb claimed that whilst “left-wingers [are] trying to delegitimise Israel, speaking down Israel, trying to trash the UK-Israel friendship, we have some great supporters who will stand up in the House of Commons and challenge them and make the case on why the state of Israel will last forever and why our friendship with it will last”.

In his speech health secretary Steve Barclay also noted how in his science sector that UK’s partnership with Israel was flourishing.

“One in seven medicines that we use in our NHS are from Israel,” he noted.

Barclay also said the “shared values” held by Israel and the UK were the same ones that drew him to the Tories and to CFI itself.

Defence secretary Grant Shapps also spoke at the reception stressing how Israel “always will have the right to defend itself from terrorism and extremism.”

He also told attendees that as the most senior Jewish cabinet member he had “not once experienced antisemitism” in the party.

Also delivering a hard-hitting speech was Liam Fox MP, who accused the government of having “missed a track” by not proscribing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Fox said:”We need to recognise the IRGC are a danger to the United Kingdom. The IRGC are not just a threat to Israel, not just to the region. They’re a threat to us.”

The Israeli deputy ambassador to UK Oren Marmorstein also focused on the Iranian threat in his speech saying Tehran “can never, and will never have a nuclear weapon and we will make sure this is the case no matter what it takes.”

Marmorstein also spoke of the “great hope” around a normalisation deal and “peaceful relationship” with Saudi Arabia.

Also in attendance the event was the Bahraini Ambassador Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, and Holocaust survivor Hannah Lewis MBE with her husband Michael, as well as representatives from the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council.

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