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 Image of Conservative Friends Of Israel Mon Jun 22, 2009 
David Cameron's speech to the CFI annual lunch 2009
David Cameron's Speech to the Conservative Friends Of Israel at their Annual Lunch - Thurs 18th June 2009


Thank you Leonard[Lord Steinberg] and thank you everyone for coming today. It’s great to be here amongst so many friends. I look around and I see Conservative candidates and I see Conservative supporters, I see some of our biggest donors and a special thank you to you. I see newer friends like Leonard. I cannot reveal all the contents of that lunch but I can tell you this, he was not asking me to settle his bookmakers bill!

I see alongside lots of old friends, I see some new arrivals too. It is great to see, for instance, Victor Blank here. Victor I can tell you, much better to hang out at cocktail parties with Tories ... [laughter] ... I did not even get to the punchline, we will not try and sell you a bank!

Can I thank Lord Steinberg, Michael Heller and the Eden Group for hosting this event and let me welcome His Excellency Ron Prosor who does a brilliant job and how necessary it is in a country that does not always have the most unbiased media.

I would also like to thank James Arbuthnot, the Chairman of the CFI, the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Conservative Friends of Israel – Richard Harrington who has a very important day job and that is to win Watford for the Conservatives in the next election.

Leonard, you asked me lots of questions about my attitude towards Israel and towards the Jewish Community. I hope I will answer all of them in my speech and I hope I have shown over the last four years in which I have been leading the party – it feels like 40 I have to say – during which I have spoken at the CST dinner, I have spoken at the Norwood dinner, the British Board of Deputies dinner, the Jewish Care breakfast and now the Jewish Care ... soon I will be handing my recipe for chicken soup!

And to those who will be coming to the Jewish Care dinner on Monday, I promise I will try and write a different speech so that you do not have to sit through it all over again.

But we are just one year away from an election, and I know you do have serious questions - about me, about what I believe and about what I want to achieve.

I want to give you time to ask those questions today but first, I’m going to speak for about fifteen minutes, and I’m going to tell you six things that you need to know about me.


First, I passionately believe in the right of Israel to exist, to defend itself and to live in peace and security. Not just because of the tragedies of history. Not only because of the realities of today. Not simply because of my Party’s unstinting support for Israel through the decades. But also because it’s something I feel very deep inside of me.

The belief I have in Israel is indestructible – and you need to know that if I become Prime Minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on Israel.

But as well as being an unswerving friend, I believe Israel needs true friends.


That brings me to the second thing I believe. I do believe in a two-state solution. A State of Israel, with her existence recognised by all her Arab neighbours. And a state for Palestine, with her existence recognised by the world. Two-states, two democracies, living side by side, in peace – I do not believe there is a sustainable alternative.

I’m not starry-eyed about this - I know peace will not come overnight. It’s going to take perseverance, dedication and compromise from all sides. Israeli leaders of all political traditions have in the past shown that they are willing to take risks for peace.

Menachem Begin made peace with Egypt. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres forged a historic agreement with the PLO. Sharon and Olmert have both recognised the demographic reality that unless a Palestinian state were created Israel’s nature as both Jewish and democratic would be at risk.


Israel needs to be as brave again today. And that’s why Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech talking of a two-state solution at the weekend was such an important and welcome statement.

And I agree that Israel must be assured that any withdrawal from territory will not lead to rockets showering down on innocent men, women and children as has happened all too often in the past and in the present.

So for the Palestinians themselves, their obligations are clear: Prove you are a reliable negotiating partner. Bring order to your own society. And renounce violence completely.

But I need to add something else as a true friend. The expansion of settlements fuels extremism and undercuts Palestinian leaders who genuinely yearn for peace. It is in all our interests to help improve life for ordinary Palestinians.

We need to help them build their capacity to run a Palestinian state, create viable institutions of governance and clamp down on corruption. This is the only long-term way to entrench the appeal of peace and turn off the life support systems of extremists like Hamas.

There are some in the West who see some sort of equivalence between Israel and Hamas. I do not. Israel is a democracy – Hamas want to create a theocracy. Israel strives to protect innocent life – Hamas target innocent life. And so there can be no doubt, and let me make clear we won’t judge Hamas just on words. Our test is whether their actions show that they are going to end the terror, recognise Israel and accept all previous peace agreements.


The third thing I believe is this: I do not think, as some do, that ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict will somehow miraculously solve all the problems of the Middle East.
It won’t. It will not – for instance - stop Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon. It’s an incredibly tense time in that country. And I am in aware and we should all be aware of the courage shown by those Iranians standing up for free speech and democracy.

They need to know, no ifs, no buts, not the mealy mouthed statements we have had from our Foreign Secretary but a clear statement “we are on your side”.

But come what may, the underlying factors in the international community’s dispute with Iran remain unchanged. Yes, I believe President Obama is right to give Iran until the end of the year to respond to his offer of dialogue and engagement. This is the right approach.

But be in no doubt, we in Europe must use this time to develop a stick to go with the American carrots. Today, America maintains it sanctions and stands ready to talk. But contrast that with approach in Europe where in the past, we have preferred endless carrots, lots of talks but no sticks no hard decisions about sanctions.

Frankly, it's shaming that even now Iran's trade minister can boast openly that more than two-thirds of that country's trade is with the European Union. A successful policy towards Iran cannot be achieved by either Europe or America acting in isolation. So if Iran refuses to negotiate, European countries must agree tough sanctions.


Talking of the Iranian leadership, brings me to the fourth thing you need to know about me: I will stand firm against anti-Semitism in all its forms and wherever it occurs. I thought it was moving to hear President Obama speak in Cairo. There he was in the historic centre of the Arab world where too often vile stereotypes of Israel and Jews go unchecked and unchallenged. And yet he made the fullest expression of the historic suffering of the Jewish people and the abhorrence and ignorance of anti-Semitism.

And we need that sort of leadership right here back at home. These are incredibly worrying times for the Jewish community in Britain. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased by ten percent. The BNP are winning seats in both European and in local elections. The most disgusting literature can be bought in our bookshops and found in our university campuses.

And is our Government doing enough? My answer is no.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir is still not banned. And then there are the decisions that in my view completely fly in the face of common sense. They blacklist an American shock jock.
But they let in anti-Semites like Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Ibrahim Moussawi with open arms. These people should not be allowed to spread hate in our country.


All the things I’ve spoken about: supporting Israel, a two-state solution, getting all to meet their obligations, fighting anti-Semitism, confronting Iran, all these things require leadership and engagement from America.

So the fifth thing you need to know about me is this: I am a committed Atlanticist. No nation is perfect but America remains the world’s indispensable power. The truth is we cannot achieve half of what we want to achieve unless we work with the world’s superpower. So when it comes to the special relationship with America: I feel it, I understand it, I believe in it. And it’s why President Obama will have my full support in achieving peace in the Middle East and we hope, opening a new chapter in the West’s relations with the Muslim world.


I’ve spoken about international affairs today. So let the sixth and final thing you need to know about me and what I think about Britain and my vision for this country.

Rabbi Hillel was asked by a gentile in the first century BC to explain the essence of Judaism in a way that was so concise you could repeat it “whilst standing on one foot”.

And this is what he said: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Law; the rest is the explanation; go and learn"

This is the ‘golden rule’, expressing the notion of responsibility for others that in many ways is also the bedrock of my vision for this country. Because if you look at the great problems that face our country, they all come back to individual behaviour and personal responsibility. Our economy’s on the brink of bankruptcy because of irresponsible lending and borrowing from the Government down.

Our society’s broken because whether it’s the father who has left a family to fend for themselves, the person on the sofa picking up the dole or the shopkeeper who is making a fast buck off selling alcohol to kids, people are not living up to their responsibilities to themselves or to others.

And our politics is broken because we operated a system of expenses that when revealed in all its detail simply didn’t stand up to public scrutiny.

We desperately need to bring some responsibility back to our economy, to society and to our political system. In our economy, that means government living within its means. You won’t hear from me that we don’t need to cut public spending. We do. And we will.
In our society, it means asking people to take responsibility for themselves. So if you can work, but don’t work, you can’t claim.

If you commit a crime, you’ll pay the proper price. And if you do the right thing, sticking with the mother of your child, saving for a rainy day, working hard to do better for your family, we will not punish you, we will reward you.

And in our politics, it means creating a system that is there to serve people, and not the other way round.


Now some people say winning the next election will be the start of some nightmare. Who would want to inherit an economy on the brink of bankruptcy, a society that is broken, and a political system that seems in such meltdown?

I do not agree with that. I believe it could be the start of our dreams. Yes, we’re a country in crisis. But with every crisis comes opportunity. And today, we in the Conservative Party , we have the opportunity to completely change the way we run our country, the way we run our public services and we have the chance to build the good society that we all want to see.

That society will be founded on one word: responsibility. And in this endeavour, I know in the Jewish community, the Conservative Party will have an enduring ally. Personal responsibility, civic responsibility, social responsibility. These are the values that go to the heart of the Jewish faith. These are the values we all share. And it is these values should be the stars that guide us today.”

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