In 1874, Benjamin Disraeli—whose Jewish father baptized him at age twelve after a falling out with the synagogue elders—became the first British prime minister not born a Christian. On Monday, Rishi Sunak, a Hindu, became the first actual non-Christian to hold the premiership. Kate Maltby compares the two Conservative politicians, while Georgia Gilholy examines what Sunak’s appointment means for British Jewry:
During his first leadership campaign this summer, Sunak told the Conservative Friends of Israel hustings that he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s “historic capital.” He agreed with [his predecessor] Liz Truss there was a “very strong case” for relocating the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Richmond MP also told the audience that he was committed to the construction of the controversial Westminster Holocaust memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens, and vowed to get restrictions on BDS on the legislative agenda.
In an August interview, . . . he described Israel as a “shining beacon of hope.” He also promised to increase spending on Jewish security organizations such as the Community Security Trust, [a Jewish nonprofit that plays a crucial role in protecting synagogues and other Jewish institutions], expressing how he felt “horrified” by the need for security outside Jewish religious schools.
Mr. Sunak has also spoken up about the threat of Iran, warning in August that the attack on Salman Rushdie must function as a “wake-up call for the West,” and urged “maximum-pressure” sanctions on the Islamic Republic before considering any plans to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement.