Progressively Speaking: Will the Priti Patel affair have lasting consequences for British-Israel relations?

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Progressively Speaking: Will the Priti Patel affair have lasting consequences for British-Israel relations?

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith gives a progressive Jewish view on a topical issue

Priti Patel
Priti Patel

Politics works differently in Israel.   There is none of the usual British formality we see here in the UK.

Earlier this year, on the last day of one of our annual Alyth Synagogue Israel trips, where we looked first-hand at the political, religious and social challenges faced by Jews and Arabs in Israel and the West Bank, we wanted to make the trip especially meaningful by meeting Members of the Knesset across the political spectrum.

This was remarkably straightforward to organise. MKs from Likud, Labour and Yesh Atid delightedly met with our group of British Reform Jews, in a Knesset committee room.

They were happy to have a conversation. It seems tht Priti Patel allowed herself to be part of that same Israeli willingness to just sit down and talk.   It proved to be unwise for her career as a British politician, but difficult for those who know Israeli politics to see it as a sinister plot.

Britain and Israel have good relations. The recent Institute for Jewish Policy Research survey on British attitudes to Israel showed that only six percent of Britons feel Israel has no right to exist and only 10 percent back the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, despite decades of propaganda against Israel.

Britain is a major trading partner and beneficiary of the strength of the Israeli economy and innovation.  We are culturally linked; it is easier for Britain to learn from Israel and vice-versa and to trade with Israel than any other country in the Middle East.

Going to Israel for tourism or business is simpler and cheaper than it is has ever been, with multiple flights linking us every day.

Perhaps Israeli politicians need a crash course in British political formality and the danger they can put a friend of Israel into, such as Ms Patel, by just sitting down to talk. However, the building of links and relationships with Israel should not be put on hold because of one person’s mistake.

Britain can be among Israel’s partners in the changes our Jewish state will need to make, so it can live in peace with its Palestinian neighbours and citizens. We need a strong relationship to make it so.

Mark Goldsmith is rabbi of Alyth Reform Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: