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December 22, 2019 9:14 pm

UK Prime Minister Johnson Issues Hanukkah Message to Jews: ‘Britain Would Not Be Britain Without Its Jewish Community’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Downing Street in London, Sept. 5, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay.

Newly-elected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a Hanukkah message from 10 Downing Street on Sunday afternoon, noting the recent rise in antisemitism and telling British Jews, “Britain would not be Britain without its Jewish community.”

This month’s general election was a tense one for British Jews, with many fearing that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — who the overwhelming majority of British Jews consider an antisemite — might be elected.

Instead, Johnson’s Conservatives swept to an overwhelming victory to a sigh of relief from the British Jewish community.

“There is every reason to be happy this time of year,” Johnson said in the holiday message posted to Twitter. “After all, quite aside from the joys of latkes and doughnuts … who can argue with a festival where the kids get presents every day for more than a week?”

“And it is a time to celebrate not just the miracle of the oil but also your unique identity,” Johnson continued. “To pop the Hanukkiah or Menorah in the window and say to the world, just as Judah and his small band of poorly-equipped Maccabees said to Antiochus III and his mighty Greek army all those years ago, ‘I am Jewish and I am proud of it.’”

Turning to the political anxieties of British Jews, Johnson said, “That’s really important right now, because I know that recent years have not been easy ones for British Jews. In the media, on the streets, and particularly online, antisemites have, in alarming numbers, been emboldened to crawl out from under their rocks and begin, once again, to spread their brand of noxious hatred far and wide.”

“But as you kindle the Hanukkah light tonight and in the nights to come, I want you to remember this: When the Maccabees drove the forces of darkness out of Jerusalem, they had to do so on their own,” Johnson said. “Today, as Britain’s Jews seek to drive back the darkness of resurgent antisemitism, you have every decent person in this country fighting by your side. Because Britain would not be Britain without its Jewish community. And we will stand with you and celebrate with you at Hanukkah and all year round.”

“Hag Hanukkah Sameach,” the prime minister concluded.

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