Davidson praises Is­rael trade growth

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

RUTH DAVIDSON paid trib­ute to Arthur Bal­four as “an­other great Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive” at the Board of Deputies an­nual din­ner on Mon­day.

The Scot­tish Tory leader made her com­ments dur­ing a wide-rang­ing con­ver­sa­tion with James Hard­ing, the di­rec­tor of BBC news and cur­rent af­fairs.“I’ve wel­comed to my own con­stituency,” she said, “the Shalom In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val which, as well as cel­e­brat­ing Ju­daism, also in­vites per­form­ers over from Is­rael to make sure that the cul­tural ex­change is there.

“We’ve seen a 60 per cent rise in trade be­tween Scot­land and Is­rael in the last 10 years — it’s now about £120 mil­lion a year — and these are the sorts of things we want to build on.”

Ms Davidson said it was im­por­tant to be a “crit­i­cal friend” in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, and backed Theresa May’s com­ments on “the un­ac­cept­abil­ity of build­ing il­le­gal set­tle­ments”

The celebrations to mark the cen­te­nary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion would be “a re­ally pos­i­tive way for­ward,” she added.

The an­niver­sary would “give us space in the pub­lic dis­course to talk about how Is­rael is a force for good as a demo­cratic coun­try”.

Echo­ing com­ments made in an in­ter­view with the JC last week, Ms Davidson also paid trib­ute to how Scot­tish po­lit­i­cal par­ties had shown a no­tol­er­ance ap­proach to an­ti­semitism.

“One of the things I’m proud of in Scot­land is that there is ac­tu­ally po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship against this. You of­ten see politi­cians kick lumps out of each other but, ac­tu­ally, when it comes to stuff that mat­ters, such as pro­vid­ing that sort of lead­er­ship, I think in Scot­land we’ve done quite well.

“Be­cause we’ve got a very small Jewish com­mu­nity — less than 6,000 — and it’s very con­cen­trated, but it’s had some great cham­pi­ons from all the par­ties down the years.”

Jonathan Arkush, Board pres­i­dent, thanked the many dig­ni­taries from the re­li­gious and po­lit­i­cal spheres who at­tended the din­ner.

“Most of all, though, I want to thank you,” he told the au­di­ence.

“With­out you there would be no Board of Deputies. We would not be able to serve our com­mu­nity, our com­mu­nity’s fu­ture, which is also your fu­ture.

“It is an hon­our to speak forthrightly for our com­mu­nity on ev­ery rel­e­vant is­sue.”

Ruth Davidson with James Hard­ing

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