British Jewry Hails Appointment of ‘Staunch Israel-Supporter’ Boris Johnson as New Foreign Secretary
Leading Jewish groups in Britain are hailing the recent appointment of Boris Johnson as the country’s foreign secretary, expressing to The Algemeiner their hope that his support for Israel will continue in his new role.
Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation UK, said, “The Jewish and pro-Israel community is proud to have Boris Johnson — well-known for being an outspoken and often larger-than-life character — fighting in our corner. From holding an annual public Chanukah lighting in the heart of London, to robustly dismissing calls to boycott the Jewish state, Johnson has always show his support for us, and we hope to see that continue in his high-profile new role.”
Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, called Johnson “a staunch supporter of our community.”
“He continues to be a passionate and vocal supporter of Israel, views which he reiterated during his recent visit to the country,” Johnson told The Algemeiner. “We look forward to working with him to further ties between the UK and Israel in his new role.”
A spokesman from the Board of Deputies of British Jews said, “We congratulate Boris Johnson on becoming foreign secretary in Theresa May’s Cabinet. We enjoyed a productive relationship during his time as mayor of London and we look forward to working with him in his new post.”
Johnson’s appointment came amid a government shakeup as a result of the outcome of the Brexit referendum, in which the country voted to break ties with the European Union. May — who is also regarded to be friendly towards the Jewish state — has replaced Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned after the vote, saying, “I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”
In November, Johnson visited Israel as part of an effort to boost ties between London and Jerusalem. In his customary flowery style, Johnson referred to anti-Israel BDS advocates as “corduroy-jacketed lefty academics.”
“I cannot think of anything more foolish [than to boycott] a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region, the only place that has in my view a pluralist open society,” Johnson said.
His comments greatly angered several Palestinian groups, who refused to meet with him during his subsequent visit to Ramallah.
Johnson’s appointment has also been warmly welcomed by Israel. Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev told Jewish News on Thursday, “During his time as mayor of London, relations flourished between Israel and the British capital. We look forward to working with the new foreign secretary to further strengthen ties between the UK and Israel. This partnership makes our two democracies both more prosperous and secure.”