Colonel Richard Kemp and I Could Be Good Friends

I never thought I’d see the man who indirectly may have saved my life. In fact, I had no idea Richard Kemp was involved in any way during the London underground attack in 2005.

14 years later, in Florida, in front of me was the man, who learned from and trained with Israeli intelligence units and used that knowledge during that attack. And now, 14 years later and continents away, I can stand up and say: Thank you for possibly saving my and my brother’s lives.  

As a guest speaker of ISRAEL(IS), Richard Kemp, retired British Army officer, who served in Afghanistan and then worked for the Joint Intelligence Committee, started his somewhat unfiltered and informal speech by saying:  

“Jeremy Corbyn was the least fitting person ever to run a country. His life-long hatred of Jews is something I – with my limited power – tried to show during his campaign.” 

Kemp is not Jewish, and as he said, his love for the Jewish people and Israel came from his father – even though he cannot recall his father knowing any Jews at all. 

Kemp claims that Corbyn’s antisemitism was not only a mistake in the heat of political games. He is, indeed, a Jew-hater with a track record. If one scrolls back on Kemp’s Twitter account, it’s clear that he walked the talk, and indeed, stood up against Corbyn’s antisemitic messages. 

The former officer, who is known to lead the most successful offensive counter-terrorist operations in Kabul, continued by saying that no matter whether you hate or like Boris Johnson, his first act after the elections was to counter BDS. Johnson will attempt to pass a law banning local councils from joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. 

At this point, it seems to me that Kemp – with whom I did chat before the meeting – and I could be good friends. His common sense and clear conservative values (and I always argue that conservative is not going against progressive) was getting clearer when he said: 

“Israel celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut, the US celebrated its independence day on July 4th, and we [the Brits] are about to celebrate our independence day in January 2020 as we manage to get rid of the last yolks of the EU.” 

He evidently was referring to the Brexit that finally seems to be materializing after the 2016 controversial referendum. 

Kemp also said the British and Israeli relations are so much stronger than people know. The media does not really cover it, and the British politicians try not to speak about it in fear of angering the ever-growing Muslim population in Britain. The growth of radical Islam in the country is unquestionable. And as Kemp later mentions the indoctrination of hate against Jews and Israel is palpable.  

Besides the behind-the-scenes collaboration between the two countries, the UK and Israel collaborate openly in many fields. Starting from tech, or military tactics to battlefield medical strategies. He brings the example of a soldier who lost one leg, one arm and one eye in Afghanistan. “That soldier could not have survived without Israel, and that is a fact.”

By now we know that most people will never hear about this.  

And this hits home. I just attended another event hosted by Magen David Adom featuring Noam Gershony – who survived a helicopter crash during the second Lebanon war. Gershony echoed the same fact: without Israel and the skills, readiness, and abilities of the medical team, he would not be here today.  

Kemp said that Israel and Israeli technology keeps saving lives within and outside of Israel and saves the lives of Jews and non-Jews alike, and yet “the biggest slur campaign in the world continues to be against Israel.”

And, I, for one, agree with him. 

Kemp retired at the age of 44 to be able to get a job that could finance his daughters’ education. Recently a friend told me when I mentioned to him that I wish I would be younger as I’d have enlisted in the Israeli army, “It’s okay, you do good for Israel in other ways”.

And this is what I think about Richard Kemp after meeting him. 

He, as a non-Jew, former army person, has the guts to stand up against something larger than him. Because admitting what Israel does for the world should not be an exception, but the norm; and Kemp is normalizing that with his firm stand. 


Virag Gulyas

Virag is a digital communications strategist and personal branding consultant. She is also a loud pro-Israel advocate, the founder of Almost Jewish, a pro-Israel movement that aims to change the stereotypes about Israel and the Jewish people one day at a time.