Tory peer expresses regret Queen never had chance to visit Israel

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Tory peer expresses regret Queen never had chance to visit Israel

Lord Polak, CFI's honorary president, recalled conversation with Princess Royal who agreed it 'was sad' Queen 'never walked down the Via Dolorosa into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Lord Polak gives his tribute to the late Her Majesty in the Lords
Lord Polak gives his tribute to the late Her Majesty in the Lords

Conservative Friends of Israel honorary president Lord Polak delivered a heartfelt tribute to the Queen during a speech in the House of Lords in which he expressed regret that she was never able to visit Israel.

The Tory peer recited parts of both the Prayer for The Royal Family, and Psalm 116 in Hebrew as he spoke on Friday as tributes were made to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in both Houses.

Lord Polak revealed he had one discussed with Princess Anne how the Royal Family were “prohibited from visiting Israel by the Foreign Office.”

He recalled that on the 26 June 2016 he was at a fundraising event at the Princess Royal’s home.

During a conversation with the royal host, Lord Polak said: “We agreed that as someone who was deeply religious and God-fearing it was sad, it is sad, that she never walked down the Via Dolorosa into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre’.

“She never visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem or the tranquil peace of the Sea of Galilee.”


Earlier Lord Polak had said “on an occasion like today I think we miss the Lord Sacks who would have known exactly what to say.”

He then told the Lords that “one prayer” will be said in English at synagogues tomorrow.

Lord Polak read out last Shabbat’s version with the late Her Majesty’s name in it, and revealed it would now change to His Majesty.

He also told how his late grandmother had adored the Queen. Ending his speech Lord Polak said “at a Jewish funeral Psalm 116 is often recited”, before finishing saying “may Her Majesty’s memory be a blessing.”

Meanwhile in the Commons, Jewish Labour Movement parliamentary chair Dame Margaret Hodge said:”What has been so remarkable about the words that have been spoken about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth since her death is just how many people’s lives she touched.

“It was not simply the length of her reign or her complete commitment to duty, but her character and the way in which she did her work that meant that she was loved by so many and will be missed by us all.”

The Labour MP added:”At a time of a constant change, Queen Elizabeth II gave us stability. At a time of uncertainty, tension and conflict, she always provided a path to reconciliation.

“As a nation and community, she provided leadership that brought recognition, respect and status, and love to all of Great Britain and all of our people. We will miss her.”

Back in the Lords, Lord Wolfson mirrored Lord Polak’s reference to religious customs.

He said:”I begin, in accordance with the custom of my religious tradition, with an acknowledgement that, as mortal humans, we submit to God’s decree and from his judgment, whether that be for life or for death, there is no appeal: “Baruch dayan ha’emet”—“Blessed be the Judge of truth.”

“As I say that blessing, I am taken to the last time I met Her Majesty.

“I recited a different and special blessing, the blessing our rabbis prescribed to be said when meeting royalty: “Baruch shenatan michvodo lebasar vadam”—“Blessed is He who has shared His glory with mortals of flesh and blood”.

“The idea in that blessing is not the divine right of kings; it is not the absolutist notion that, because monarchs derive their power from God, they cannot be held accountable for their actions.

“The blessing embodies a totally different idea, but it is a powerful one. It is the idea, as the Talmud puts it, that “royalty on earth is to reflect royalty in heaven”; that to be royal requires the highest standards and impeccable behaviour.

“It is an idea, I suggest, that Her late Majesty exemplified throughout her long reign.”

In the Commons Conservative MP Robert Jenrick added:”Just the other day, I went with my family, including my children, who are the great-grandchildren of holocaust survivors, to see Anne Frank’s house.

“My children, who had gone ahead of us on the tour, came back to me and said that in the secret annexe ahead, among the images on the walls were photos of Her late Majesty the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Princess Margaret.

“I later researched with my daughters why that was.

“Otto Frank, Anne’s father, is recorded as saying later in life that Anne Frank loved the royals—but that was not the only reason. He wanted to put some photos on the wall that would give the children strength, and Anne Frank also said that the beautiful smile kept her going.”








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