MONTREAL — Winston Spencer-Churchill – grandson of the famed British prime minister – held Jewish National Fund (JNF) Negev Dinner guests in rapt attention as he described his grandfather’s great empathy for the Jewish people and Zionism while delivering a chilling warning about the threat to Israel and the world posed by Iran and the spread of Islamism.
At the presentation of Negev Dinner, certificates were presented to David and Michael Cape. [Howard Kay photo]
At the presentation of Negev Dinner certificates to David and Michael Cape, fourth and fifth from left, are, from left, executive vice-president Joe Rabinovitch; national president Frank Wilson; Montreal president Wendy Spatzner, and Montreal executive director Mark Mendelson [Howard Kay photo]
MONTREAL — Winston Spencer-Churchill – grandson of the famed
British prime minister – held Jewish National Fund (JNF) Negev Dinner
guests in rapt attention as he described his grandfather’s great
empathy for the Jewish people and Zionism while delivering a chilling
warning about the threat to Israel and the world posed by Iran and the
spread of Islamism.
“Of all the dangers facing Israel today… none is more pressing than Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” Spencer-Churchill said at JNF Montreal’s 55th dinner, which honoured father-and-son cosmetics businessmen Michael and David Cape. It was held June 8 at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.
Spencer-Churchill, 68, the son of Pamela Digby and Sir Winston Churchill’s only son, Randolph, spoke about the “vicious creed” of “exceptionally intolerant” Islamic fundamentalist extremism that seeks to control every corner of the globe.
It’s an extremism rooted in the Wahabi tribe’s Islamic fundamentalism, which was born in Saudi Arabia and foretold by his prescient grandfather back in 1921, he said.
At the time, Britain’s future prime minister described the Arabian Peninsula as violent and uncivilized, a place run by people who were “austere, intolerant, well armed, and bloodthirsty.”
This has not changed, Spencer-Churchill told the more than 400 assembled guests.
It’s a situation, he added, that might take generations – not just years – to resolve, especially as North Korea tests its nuclear weapons and Iran seeks to develop a similar arsenal.
But Spencer-Churchill praised U.S. President Barack Obama for reaching out to the Muslim world in his recent speech at Cairo University.
Churchill said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be taken at his word when he talks about eradicating Israel. Those who think he “does not really mean what he said,” are the same kind of people who believed Adolf Hitler “didn’t mean what he said when he wrote Mein Kampf,” Spencer-Churchill said.
In the first part of his speech, Spencer-Churchill cited numerous examples of his grandfather’s lifelong support for Jews and their desire to establish a national home in Palestine.
Churchill’s wartime radio speeches served as a beacon of hope for Jews and other held captive by the Nazis in Europe, and even as a 30-year-old in 1904, young Winston held sympathy for the “aspirations of the local Jewish community” and its yearning for a Jewish national home, and lobbied as a parliamentarian for Russian-Jewish immigration to England, his grandson said.
Churchill also strongly supported the Balfour Declaration and was instrumental, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in Palestine in setting up the “boundaries of biblical Palestine,” Spencer-Churchill added.
When the State of Israel was born in 1948, Churchill declared: “This is a great event in world history.”
Israel “never had a more constant friend than Winston Churchill,” his grandson said.
During his first visit to Israel in 1967, on the eve of the Six Day War, Spencer-Churchill saw for himself what Israel was all about when former Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion gave him a “succinct lesson” in Jewish history.
“It was a magical moment,” Spencer-Churchill recalled.
The dinner at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim honoured the Capes for their devotion to community, JNF and Israel, as well as for their business acumen, JNF Montreal president Wendy Spatzner and dinner chair Marvin Corber said.
Michael Cape’s father, Victor, established Cape’s Drugstore, which became a landmark institution in Snowdon. Victor became exclusive distributor for Marcelle Cosmetics in Canada. Michael Cape is now chair of Groupe Marcelle and David is president. Michael is also a former president and David is the current president of Shaar Hashomayim.
Corber described the Capes as the “epitome of what our honorees should be,” noting that other select fathers and sons have served as Montreal Negev honorees (Lavy and Hillel Becker and Jack and Steven Cummings were the others).
National JNF president Frank Wilson said funds raised from the dinner will establish a picnic and recreation area in the Capes’ names at JNF’s Lahav Forest, first established in 1952 in the northeast region of Negev Desert near Bnei Shimon, an area of Israel “twinned” in recent years with the Montreal Jewish community.
Father and son agreed to accept the Negev citation this year, Michael said, because of their love for Israel and the concept of “dor l’dor” (generation to generation).
The evening also featured a video tribute as well as a “musical interlude” performed by Shaar music director Stephen Glass and cantor Gideon Zelermyer.