London Mayor 2012: Green Party's Jenny Jones

By Marcus Dysch, March 22, 2012

The Green Party can be "good for the Jewish community", according to the party's London mayoral election candidate.

Jenny Jones said she believed the party's policies were "balanced" on Israel, but defended the Greens' denunciation of the Jewish National Fund as "racist".

Ms Jones spent time in Israel in the 1990s while studying archaeology as a mature student, and said the experience had helped her understand the challenges Israel faces.

As the Jewish community becomes increasingly aware of green issues – the Jewish Social Action Forum's Year of the Bicycle initiative is a leading example – Ms Jones admitted her connection to Anglo-Jews had been "zero". She is yet to visit any Jewish organisations during her campaign, despite the fact that half her core election team is Jewish. She hoped to arrange a synagogue visit in the coming weeks.

What may put off Jewish voters, however, is the Green line on Israel and the Palestinians. Caroline Lucas, the party's leader and only MP, has regularly campaigned for the Palestinian cause and last summer joined activists on a "Free Gaza flotilla" that sailed past Parliament on the Thames.

Delegates at last month's England and Wales Green Party spring conference called for the JNF to be stripped of its charity status and denounced the organisation – which has planted thousands of trees across Israel, turning the desert green – as "racist".

Although she did not vote on the motion at the conference, Ms Jones backs the policy: "I think the JNF saying our vote was an 'attack on Israel' is absolute rubbish. That's not true at all. It's an attack on an organisation that's being racist. Why is that an attack on Israel?

"If you're only allowing one people into an area, that's racist… Look, this is not something I've gone into in a lot of depth.

"I think the JNF guy here [Samuel Hayek] says it's an attack on Israel and its people.That's rubbish and as far as I understand that was not the intention of the motion."

She added: "It's not that I'm not supportive of Israel. I've visited, I've worked there, I understand the pressure on Israelis, it's phenomenal. Nobody who has been there could avoid understanding the pressure of having Arab countries all around and being such a small country. But at the same time you can't allow this aggression between two peoples to carry on."

Ms Jones' campaign mainly concentrates - understandably - on issues central to the majority of Londoners: transport, safer streets, social equality.

She is concerned that the personality clashes of the leading candidates - mayor Boris Johnson and his main challenger, Ken Livingstone - are detracting from serious debates on policies.

Last updated: 4:27pm, March 22 2012