Britain’s New Prime Minister Has a Good Record When It Comes to Israel and the Jews

Oct. 27 2022

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.

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Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Benjamin Disraeli, Europe and Israel, United Kingdom

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy