Did you hear the one about the Rabbi, the Ambassador, the former Prime Minister and the Goy?
The Board of Deputies’ 250th Anniversary Gala Dinner was a wonderful evening. It was lovely to see so many people, including OyVaGoy readers, who I have never met before.
The speeches were mostly great, too.
You can read Chancellor George Osborne’s speech here. It was an interesting speech, though I found this passage a little baffling:
“There are very few Jews, anywhere in the world, whose lives, through their families, haven’t been touched by the politics of totalitarians and the crimes of dictators. This country’s proudest boast is that here, in Britain, in our land, refugees found a home. Here they lived in peace. Here they rebuilt their lives.”
I was waiting for him to acknowledge the other side of the coin – that Britain was in fact the final country in western Europe to accept Jewish immigrants, and the first to expel Jewish people. You can read Melanie Phillips’ thoughtful response to his speech here.
More positively, he said that there will be “legislation published very shortly” to end the obscenity of universal jurisdiction. “We have waited long enough, politicians have talked long enough, it is time to act. And act we will.” I will believe it when I see it. So far David ‘Prison Camp’ Cameron and William ‘Disproportionate’ Hague have been a massive disappointment when it comes to Israeli matters.
A man who has been nothing short of magnificent on such matters is the former Prime Minister Tony Blair. I was overjoyed to hear him speak at the Dinner, as he is a major hero of mine. His speech was witty, wonderful and powerful. The stand-out moment for me came when he said “People often refer to me as a friend of Israel. It’s not always meant as a compliment, but I take it as a compliment”.
I know just what he means!
Other oratorical highlights of the evening included my friend’s Simon Sacerdoti’s speech of thanks to George Osborne. As Simon returned to our table having given the speech I did my best to bask in the reflected glory. Then it was time to mingle…
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has long been an inspiration to me. He’s such a magnificent writer, speaker and thinker. I find his reflections powerful, thought-provoking and guiding. So I was delighted to meet him. I loved how excited he got about the fact that I am, like he, an Arsenal fan.
Then it was time to meet his excellency, Mr Ron Prossor, the Israeli ambassador to Britain. I use the full description out of respect but I was delighted to find that, just like Lord Sacks, he could not be more friendly and down to earth. In fact, he is a really cool dude is Ron!
And here I am, listening to my hero Tony Blair – look how close we were. What a wonderful man. Britain, the Middle East and the whole world needs another leader like him. I hope we one day see his like again.