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‘Sometimes I feel safer in Israel’: Rabbi Leo Dee speaks to LBC on return to UK to support Jewish Community
21 October 2023, 15:45 | Updated: 21 October 2023, 15:48
British-Israeli Rabbi Leo Dee, whose wife and two daughters were killed by terrorists in the West Bank earlier this year, has said he sometimes feels safer in Israel than in the UK, despite the conflict with Hamas.
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Rabbi Leo Dee is visiting London from Israel this weekend to support the Jewish community, following a ten-fold increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes reported to police in the capital.
Mr Dee's wife Lucy, 48, and daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 15, were shot dead by a Palestinian terrorist in the Jordan Valley in April this year.
He said he was concerned by the rise in anti-Semitism in London, and some of the language used during demonstrations held in London.
“It’s frightening for me to come here, strangely I feel more safe sometimes in Israel, despite the fact there is war going on”, Mr Dee said.
He said he believed “there’s a little bit of holding back” in Britain by allowing the controversial chant “from the river to the sea” at demonstrations in support of Palestine.
Rabbi Dee said: “Those people marching – ‘from the river to the sea’, shouting ‘gas the Jews’, holding up swastikas and so forth, I think would not be tolerated in certain societies.
“The question for this country is to what extent are they prepared to tolerate freedom of speech for people who spread hate, and I think this is a very important question each and every one of us has to think about.”
Of the protests, he said: “We’re actually fighting the same battle as those people, because when they say free Palestine, it’s free Palestine from Hamas.
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“Hamas is operating a regime in Gaza where it’s been scored 11% on the freedom house human rights scale, one of the lowest in the world.
“The Hamas government has abused its people, hasn’t given them freedom of speech, hasn’t given them freedom of religion or freedom to vote. Women have very restricted lives... So by ridding Palestinians of Hamas, Israel will be freeing Palestine.”
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Rabbi Dee also told LBC he believes US President Joe Biden has “excelled” in his response to the conflict, and spoke highly of the British government’s support for Israel.
“Rishi Sunak and James Cleverly have acted like tremendously upright, moral individuals. They have immediately spotted the issue of good vs evil, and they have sided with good”, he said.
“I think Biden has excelled in the way he has taken this forward, in a way I personally would never have predicted, but I am extremely impressed, and so are most of the Jewish community around the world.
“I think at the moment we probably have the upper hand in terms of support of Western nations. But the concern is that as Israel retaliates – not retaliates, but fights in order to remove Hamas – that support might weaken.
"People have to remember this is not a football game where we are scoring goals – this is an existential threat that has to be eliminated completely. There will be casualties sadly on both sides but it is so we can get to a state where we can live in peace with one another, with freedom and tolerance on both sides.”