British Prime Minister Theresa May stressed the important contribution the Jewish community has made to life in the UK in a Hanukkah message released days before the Jewish festival of lights.
In wishing Jewish communities around the world “a very happy and peaceful Hanukkah”, Mrs May took the opportunity to pledge her commitment to defend the community from hatred and intolerance. She said:
“As we confront the horrors of growing antisemitism and the appalling hate-fuelled terrorist attacks that we have seen across Europe, so the themes of freedom and liberty at the heart of the Chanukah story remain as relevant as ever.
“For just as the Maccabees resisted oppression and kept their faith, to be rewarded by the miracle of a light that burnt for eight nights, so too must we today have the courage to stand up for our values and hold sacred our way of life.”
Mrs May also pledged to act personally to ensure the security and peace of the Jewish diaspora in Britain. She said:
“For as long as I am prime minister I want you to know that I will stand alongside you and passionately defend your right to practice your faith, free from question or fear.
“I will do everything I can to keep you and your families safe and to fight the divisive prejudice and extremist ideology that lies at the heart of antisemitism and all forms of hatred.
“And I will celebrate proudly the extraordinary contribution that our Jewish communities make to our country, for as I have said before, Britain would simply not be Britain without its Jews.”
Mrs May concluded her message by adding that all Britons should “take confidence and pride in our values and in doing so let us draw hope from the Hanukkah message that light will always overcome darkness and that joy and peace will always overcome hatred.