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  • Former Prime Minister Tony Blair Guest of Honor at Gala Board of Trustees Event

    Date: 2019-06-05 Hour: 14:23

    Speaking at the opening gala of Bar-Ilan University's 64th annual Board of Trustees meetings, former Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed a number of current issues making British and worldwide headlines. Mr. Blair came to Israel as a guest of Bar-Ilan University's Sir Naim Dangoor Centre for Universal Monotheism at Bar-Ilan University, established by the Dangoor family of the United Kingdom.

    Blair warned that anti-Semitism could imperil the Labour Party. "This anti-Semitism is a shameful thing.  If you'd told me back in May 1997 that the Labour Party – which I led for 13 years – would have a problem with anti-Semitism today, I wouldn't have believed it.  Anti-Semitism must be confronted immediately.  It is a poison that must be rooted out and eradicated."  He said that there is an urgent need to explain what Zionism is to a new generation of young people who see Zionism as something to be criticized rather than supported. 

    Blair said that there's an urgent need to explain what Zionism is to a new generation of young people who see Zionism as something to be criticized rather than supported.  "There is lopsided and disproportionate criticism of Israel and that anti-Semitism must be fought with renewed vigor," he said, adding that he would like to see people outside the government, who don't necessarily agree with the government's policies, go out and talk about Israel and their belief in her right to exist.

    Blair noted that the Labour Party was never as far Left as it is today.  When asked if he thinks that Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic, he responded, "Is Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitic?  Some of the remarks are not explicable in any other way, I'm afraid, and that's very sad.  Does he think he is anti-Semitic? No, he doesn't think at all that he is."

    Regarding Brexit, Blair said the only way to resolve the divide is through another referendum.  "Brexit is a destiny changing decision for the country.  The dilemma is that there's a painful version of Brexit and a pointless version.  We're three years on without a resolution, so I think to resolve it, it should go back to the people."  He praised outgoing Prime Minister May for trying to do her best for the country.

    Turning to the Middle East and peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Blair said, "The State of Israel needs to know that any independent state of Palestine will be properly and securely governed.  If that isn't the case, no matter who the prime minister is, it will be hard to make peace."  He added that the two-state solution "will only happen if first there is a genuine cultural acceptance of the State of Israel and Palestinian politics is unified and accepting of this, and secondly, by building links between the Arab world."

    Earlier this year The Sir Naim Dangoor Program for Universal Monotheism at Bar-Ilan University was promoted to become a Centre. "Over the last ten years, the Dangoor Program created an intellectual discourse in a variety of fields of knowledge and interest shared by all peoples and all cultures, including health, sports, literature, music, interfaith, and cultural ties between east and west.  Our extensive activity bore fruit, and now, as a Centre, we are committed to national and international activity that brings people together and makes the world a better place," said Dr. Danielle Gurevitch, Director of the Dangoor Centre, who emceed the event.         

    Addressing Mr. Blair Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Arie Zaban said, "In 2002 you said that with scientific advancement we need better judgment to analyze our life and science through morality.  I think that your words are becoming more and more important today with the development of life science, computer science, and especially artificial intelligence.  Indeed, science must come with great responsibility."  Zaban added that because it is strongly connected to Jewish heritage, Bar-Ilan University is suitable to combine science and morality. "Bar-Ilan is strongly connected to our Jewish heritage, our heritage that tells us that if we want to do good science, we need to do it through moral values.  Our heritage tells us that we must take part in the creation of the world that God finished creating after six days and on the seventh, he told us that we must participate in this creation, as we must really make a difference in this world.  We call it impact.  Though out impact centers we are trying to influence millions of people and make a better world," said Zaban. The work of the Bar-Ilan impact centers was exemplified through the screening of a recent tv news item about a retinal implant being developed by the University that may one day help the blind see.

    David Dangoor, an Honorary Doctorate recipient of Bar-Ilan University, told the audience that he and his family had to leave Iraq when he was ten years old, leaving everything behind.  "It was our education that helped us to rebuild our lives.  That is why in line with longstanding Jewish tradition, we are passionate about education and why when the time came when we could give something back, it was on education that we focused," he said.  "A decade ago my late father, Sir Naim Dangoor, proposed that the University take a universal message far beyond the borders of Israel – a message about the ultimate unity of humankind.  In part he focused his gaze on the Far East and China. Today the Centre's work has been recognized and praised by the government of China."

    The University acknowledged with gratitude the instrumental role played by Mrs. Vera Muravitz, Chairperson of the International Friends of Bar-Ilan, in introducing the Dangoor family to the University.


    Photo: Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Arie Zaban, former Prime Minister Blair, Judy Dangoor and David Dangoor, founders of the University's Sir Naim Dangoor Centre for Universal Monotheism and Dr. Danielle Gurevitch, Director of the Dangoor Centre, at the gala opening event of the 64th annual Board of Trustees meetings