Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander MP fielded questions on a range of international and domestic issues when he took the hot seat for the latest Jewish News Q&A event, organised in partnership with the London Jewish Cultural Centre and with the support of the JLC.
The sell-out forum at Ivy House was attended by more than 150 community members and senior JLC figures who heard the former International Development Secretary echo communal calls for the European Union to proscribe the military wing of Hizballah as a terrorist organisation, just days after Bulgaria implicated the group in last summer’s fatal bus bombing in Burgas. Describing himself as a "candid friend" of Israel - claiming that the term "critical friend" pointed to being more critical than friendly - Alexander also urged a strengthening of economic ties with Israel and stressed the importance of a dual-track approach of sanctions and diplomacy in the international community’s efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear programme. While there is a bipartisan approach by his party and the Conservatives on that challenge, he sought to explain Labour’s support for the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid when questioned on the issue by event chair Jonathan Freedland. On the domestic front, Alexander condemned the "repugnant" views of fellow MP David Ward, hours after the Lib Dems vowed to take fresh action against the politician over comments made in an email to the Jewish News. News editor Justin Cohen said:
As a community newspaper, we are delighted to provide opportunities to engage face-to-face with key politicians. The involvement of the JLC enabled a host of senior communal leaders to join this crucial public dialogue and we thank them, the LJCC and Jonathan Freedland for helping to make this such a successful meeting. Huge thanks also go to Douglas Alexander himself whose detailed knowledge of the issues and candour won many new admirers, even among those that didn’t agree with every opinion expressed.