Boris Johnson, the newly-elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, isn’t Jewish. But his Jewish ancestry and personal experiences volunteering on an Israeli kibbutz as a young man positively impact his feelings about the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.
It’s all in the name
Johnson’s full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Given the middle name Boris to honor a Russian émigré his parents once knew, he chose to use that name in his political career.
Johnson was born in New York City in 1964 to British parents. Though pale and blond, he has an especially colorful lineage, with an intriguing combination of religions represented. He has great-grandparents who were Christian, Muslim, and Jewish and sometimes refers to himself as a “one-man melting pot.”
Johnson’s maternal great-grandfather was a Russian Jewish immigrant named Elias Avery Lowe. Lowe was not a practicing Jew but was descendent of a strictly Orthodox Jewish rabbi from Lithuania.
Throughout his political career, Johnson has been a strong advocate for Israel. Writing for The Jewish Chronicle, Daniella Peled reported in 2007 that Johnson is, “an enemy of politically correct anti-Zionism and immensely proud of his own Jewish ancestry.” She quoted Johnson saying, “I feel Jewish when I feel the Jewish people are threatened or under attack, that’s when it sort of comes out. When I suddenly get a whiff of antisemitism, it’s then that you feel angry and protective.”
In addition to his Jewish ancestry, Johnson has even stronger ties to Israel through his Jewish stepmother, Jennifer Kidd Johnson, who married his father Stanley in 1981.
In 1984, Johnson, age 20, and his sister Rachel spent six weeks in Israel, volunteering on Kibbutz Kfar Hanasi, approximately 22 miles north of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
The visit was coordinated by Michael Comay, a career Israeli diplomat and close family friend of Johnson’s stepmother. Comay and his wife Joan connected the Johnson siblings with the overseas volunteer program at Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi.
A hard worker
Writing for Haaretz in 2016, Danna Harman interviewed Johnson’s sister Rachel about the summer she and her brother spent in Israel. Harman reported that Boris’ assignment was to work in the communal kitchen of the kibbutz, “scrubbing pots and pans and sweating it out in the heat of the kitchen, meal after meal.”
After their volunteer service ended, the pair traveled around Israel. “They visited Hebron and Bethlehem, hiked up Masada, floated in the Dead Sea and went sightseeing in Jerusalem,” Harman wrote.
While in Jerusalem, Boris, who was a budding journalist, secured an interview with the well-known mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek. Boris’ sister Rachel recalled that “He came back from that interview in a state of great elation.”
Hope for a better Kingdom
The siblings spent a total of six weeks in Israel that summer., no doubt contributing to Johnson’s reputation for being both pro-Jewish and Zionist. A new Prime Minister with Jewish roots and a decades-long attachment to Israel could also help reverse the marked increase of antisemitism in the UK’s Labour party in recent years.
Although it is too soon to see how his relationship with Israel might be altered by the pressures of his new position, his record on Israel is a positive one.
While serving as mayor of London from 2008-2016, Johnson denounced the BDS movement and noted that Israel is the only “pluralist, open society” in the entire Middle East region. He has openly criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council for their obsession with Israel’s so-called human rights violations.
A Trump ally
He called the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017 a “moment of opportunity” for peace and, while serving as the UK’s Foreign Secretary in 2018, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Johnson refers to himself as a “passionate Zionist” who “loves the great country” of Israel. Writing for the Jerusalem Post, Cnaan Liphshiz commented on the uniqueness of Johnson’s self-definition. Given the history of British rule in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Liphshiz noted that, “British politicians rarely call themselves ‘Zionists.’”
Nov 27, 2019 0
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
The verse (Deuteronomy 6:4) Shema Yisrael – “Hear Oh Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One” – is understood to (in Wikipedia’s words) “encapsulate the monotheistic essence of Judaism.” It’s understood to be a declaration not only there is one and only one God, but also that God’s oneness is all-inclusive. God includes every particle of existence is within Him. God is not just ruling over the world. God encompasses the world. Time and space and all of us are within God. Nothing stands outside of God’s Oneness, and God encompasses all existence equally
Watching events unfold in Israel is an experience in split-screen living. On the right side of the screen is the chaos outside our gates, in neighboring lands. And on the left side of the screen is the chaos inside.
On the left side of the screen on Tuesday, 15,000 Israelis gathered Tuesday evening outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to demand legal justice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of what they view as an anti-democratic usurpation of political power by Israel’s legal fraternity.
It hard to believe that two weeks ago, Israel was on the brink of war. With the Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing nearly 500 missiles from Gaza into Israel within a 48-hour period, even Tel Aviv was put on alert and certain train routes were canceled. My mind immediately raced to a Christian group I was going to host for Shabbat in Jerusalem Israel – Pastor Leroy Armstrong of Proclaiming the Word Ministries.
Turkey’s little remarked on but ongoing mistreatment of historic churches is increasingly reflective of that nation’s growing sense of Islamic supremacism.
Before the Turks invaded it, Anatolia (present day Turkey) was an ancient Christian region; a large chunk of St. Paul’s epistles were sent to or dealt with its churches, including the seven of the Apocalypse. With the Turks’ conquest, colonization, and subsequent Turkification of Anatolia—hence why it’s now simply called “Turkey”—tens of thousands of churches were systematically desecrated and turned into victory mosques.
Sorek was the grandson of a Rabbi who survived the Holocaust, and was universally described as a kind, gentle soul. His funeral was interrupted by Palestinians shooting off fireworks celebrating his murder.
Two terrorists, including one affiliated with Hamas were arrested for the murder. And at the time, Hamas said in a statement, “We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as “heroic and bold.”