British Jews and Israel will miss Theresa May

JEWISH LIGHT EDITORIALS

In a tearful announcement in front of 10 Downing Street, Theresa May, whose brief term in office has been stymied over Brexit, announced last week she would resign as prime minister of the United Kingdom.  

May said she will formally step down as Conservative Party leader June 7 after failing in her valiant attempts to achieve a compromise approach to a gradual, measured exit from the European Union. It is a shame that the honorable and decent May was caught in the jaws of the endless and ultimately futile efforts to exit from the EU. The move was doomed by partisans in her own Conservative Party and the U.K.’s increasingly radical Labour Party. 

Time will tell whether May’s successor, who is expected by many observers of British politics to be her fellow Conservative Boris Johnson, will fare any better. Johnson is a hard-line Brexit supporter and an admirer of Winston Churchill, about whom he published a biography.

Ideally, whoever replaces May will continue to respect the longstanding “special relationship” between Britain and the United States, which has survived since the days of World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam, as well as continuing strife in the Middle East. In her announcement, May mentioned Margaret Thatcher as the first woman to head Britain’s government, and she expressed the belief that she and Thatcher “won’t be the last to do so.”

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One thing about May is highly relevant to the 290,000 Jews of the United Kingdom: She has been a great friend of British Jewry, a fierce opponent of anti-Semitism and a strong supporter of the State of Israel. A Jewish Telegraphic Agency story by Cnaan Liphshiz, published in the immediate aftermath of May’s resignation announcement, reports that British Jews thank her for being a “true friend.”      

Liphshiz quotes Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as saying: “We sincerely thank Theresa May for being a true friend of the Jewish community during her time in office.”

In the same article, van der Zyl is quoted as adding, that May’s “government has adopted the (International Human Rights Agency) definition of anti-Semitism; marked the Balfour Declaration with pride; banned the terror organization Hezbollah; increased security funding (and opposed) anti-Israel bias at the U.N. Human Rights Council,” among other policies.”

British Jews, van der Zyl said, “will always appreciate her friendship and support.”   

May’s solid support for British Jewry and opposition to anti-Semitism stand head and shoulders above the record of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been accused of anti-Semitism by Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

We join with British Jews in warmly thanking Theresa May for her exemplary service and hope that her successor will continue those policies.