Priti Patel on pride of banning Hamas: ‘It is a policy that I am responsible for’

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Priti Patel on pride of banning Hamas: ‘It is a policy that I am responsible for’

Home Secretary told the Board of Deputies' Chanukah reception 'there is no differentiation any more' when it comes to banning terror group's political and military wings

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Marie van der Zyl, Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Priti Patel
Marie van der Zyl, Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Priti Patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel has spoken of her pride at the move to proscribe the Hamas organisation, telling guests at a Board of Deputies Chanukah reception in Westminster this was “a policy that I am responsible for.”

In a speech delivered to a room full of guests inside The Attlee Room in the House of Lords, Patel spoke proudly of the full ban on the Hamas organisation in the UK, passed by MPs across all party’s last week.

Reflecting on the government’s work to combat antisemitism, she said: “I don’t stop there. I have not stopped there at all. In the past 10 days you may have heard about this quite significant news about proscriptions – a policy I am responsible for.

“When it comes to proscribing terrorist organisations there is no differentiation anymore.

“The fact of the matter is that this was long overdue – and I have been proud to have been support by the Prime Minister to ensure the proscribing of Hamas has taken place, as it was in parliament last week.”

Watched on as she spoke, by Board President Marie van der Zyl, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and other senior figures, Patel said the past decade had “sadly” been dominated by antisemitism emerging in “our discourse and politics.”

She said she was unaware of the existence of anti-Jewish racism growing up amongst the community in Radlett, Hertfordshire.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also spoke at the Board’s event. He lavished praise on the communal organisation and on its President for their guidance and support in the fight against antisemitism in his party.

He said: “We needed to make a lot of difference, a lot of change and a lot of progress in in our party. I have always said that we will only know that we have made progress when those who had lost faith in the Labour Party regain their faith in the Labour Party.

“The warm welcome you have given me is a step on that journey and means a huge amount to me. I want to thank the Board of Deputies for working with me, for being frank and giving the advice I have needed along the way. We have needed a critical friend to ensure that we are moving in the right direction.”

Also speaking at the event were the Liberal Democrats education spokesperson Munira Wilson and Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel President Lord Palmer of Childs Hill.

Board President Marie van der Zyl thanked all those from across the political spectrum for their support over the past year.

She said: “We are grateful for the cross-party support which has been shown on many issues of interest to the Jewish community in recent times. These include ensuring the Coronavirus Bill was amended to avoid the prospect of cremations for Jews and Muslims, as well as support for the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, which will hopefully in due course sit just a couple of hundred yards from here.”

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis lit the Chanukah candles and led guests in the singing of Maoz Tsur.

Michael Wegier, chief Rabbi Mirvis, Keir Starmer and Marie van der Zyl,

He said: “Chanukah is about community, it’s about Jewish life, it’s a celebration of family life. And when it come to all of these areas, the Board of Deputies leads and guides us and does so much incredible work on behalf of our community. Despite all our challenges it’s great to be Jewish in Britain today.”

Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s Leader in the House of Commons, emphasised his solidarity with the community in the fight against antisemitism, saying: “We must all be united on one thing and that is speaking out against hate and speaking out against antisemitism. All of us have a collective responsibility to stand up and be counted.”

Also speaking was Bury South MP Christian Wakeford, co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews.

Board Chief Executive Michael Wegier gave a vote of thanks to all speakers and guests.

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