PM Pledge On Iran At UJIA

by Zeddy Lawrence - Friday 10th October 2008

Gordon Brown this week pledged "ever harder" sanctions against Iran and reiterated his government's commitment to stand "four square" against anti-semitism and Israel boycotts, when he took to the podium at the UJIA annual dinner.

In a broad ranging speech, which won him a standing ovation from the 800 guests at the Park Lane Hilton, the Prime Minister also discussed the current economic crisis, the esteem in which he held the charity and his admiration for the achievements of the Jewish state over the past 60 years.

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Monday night's event, attended by amongst others President of the Board of Deputies Henry Grunwald, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks and Rabbis Abraham Levy and Tony Bayfield, raised more than £3.77 million for UJIA projects - the generosity of donors reflecting the words of the charity's chairman Mick Davis who told the audience that despite the credit crunch, "The best way to feel richer is to give more away not less".

Emphasising the organisation's commitment to younger members of the community, hamotzi was performed by BBYO's Philip Peters, who went on to join representatives of other youth movements in leading the National Anthem and the Hatikvah.

The dinner also saw the presentation of a 1949 map of Israel to Geoffrey Ognall, in recognition of his 35 years of service to the charity.

Paying tribute to all those who supported UJIA, the Prime Minister said: "I want to thank you all individually for your personal leadership as members of this great community working tirelessly not just for your own community but to give so much to Britain and the world as a whole."

He added: "You don't just give money. You invest in people, you invest in the future, you invest in hope. You nurture the next generation of leaders, you empower them to reinvigorate their communities, you invest in economic regeneration to bring new opportunity to the people of Galilee.

"And you invest in young people, from your world leading youth movements to your new national Jewish Studies curriculum, instilling in tomorrow's leaders what we all want to see - that sense of social responsibility and belief in the power of hope to change the world."

Among those global changes, Brown said he wished to see Iran suspending its nuclear programme. He said: "We know it is a threat to Israel and to the entire world so I say to the Iranian regime join the world and get the benefits of being part of a global society or face isolation from all of us.
"And if Iran does not cooperate, we will demand the imposition of ever tougher sanctions in the next few weeks."

Vowing to defend Israel on the domestic scene, the PM also insisted: "Let me say as a government we will stand four square against any discrimination against the Jewish people in our own country. We will stand four square against any boycotts of Israel or Israeli academics and institutions."

Reflecting on the success of the night, Dinner Chairman and UJIA Trustee James Burchell said: "I am delighted that the Prime Minister was able to join us during such turbulent economic times. Once again he emphasised his commitment to British Jewry.

"The evening mirrored his warmth and support enabling UJIA to showcase its new campaign message 'We're behind you' as well as reinforcing its long-term commitment to investing in young people and education in the community. To have raised close to £4million is a terrific start to the campaign year."

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