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Blair salutes 'true friend' Israel
14/06/06
The Prime Minister has told the great and the good of Britain's Jewish community that Israel would "always be a true friend" of the UK.

Tony Blair also praised the "courage and resolution" of the Jewish people at a ceremony to mark the 350th anniversary of the resettlement of Jews in England.

Mr Blair, who wore a traditional Jewish skullcap throughout the thanksgiving service at the historic Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, said that Britain's relationship with Israel had never been "better or deeper".

He said that since the misery of the Holocaust, Jewish communities that had rebuilt across Europe and the world had asserted and defended Israel's right to exist.

He said: "It has never been easy, as you know, for the Jewish people - but what courage and resolution. So much suffering yet so much capacity to renew in the face of it. So much persecution yet so much determination to conquer it."

He added: "As I said at the meeting with Israel's Prime Minister (on Monday), relations between Britain and Israel have never been better or deeper. I know this country will always be the true friend of Israel."

Guests listening to the Prime Minister's speech included fellow MPs, peers and the leaders of the Jewish community and other faith groups at the ceremony in the City of London.

Mr Blair said it was "impossible" to imagine a modern Britain without the Jewish community. He said that since the resettlement of Jews in the 17th century, all areas of British life have been "illuminated" by the names of "distinguished" Jews.

"Throughout these years since then, the community has shown how it is possible to retain a clear faith and a clear identity and, at the same time, be thoroughly British," he said. "As the oldest minority faith community in this country, you show how identity through faith can be combined with a deep loyalty to our nation."

He added that although Jewish people had "too often" been victims of hatred, they had also inspired "respect, admiration and awe".

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