Our 'Jewish manifesto' comes at an unprecedented time for our community

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl reflects on its 'ten commitments'

November 19, 2019 17:36

These are unprecedented times for the UK Jewish community. Had you told anyone in our community a decade ago that the issue of antisemitism would be one of the central issues of political debate ahead of a General Election, it would have been seen as barely credible.

However, there is no getting around the fact that antisemitism will be one of the most, and for some, the most important factor in this election. Labour’s handling of antisemitism over the last few years has rightly come under intense scrutiny, and all indications are that many Jews will be voting according to their judgement of how Labour has performed on the issue.

Of course there has always been antisemitism in this country and confronting anti-Jewish racism has, since its formation, been one of the core functions of the Board of Deputies  but it is an absolute travesty, that antisemitism should be an issue which British Jews feel they need to take into account at the ballot box, often over and above their broader social and economic views.

So, in launching our Jewish Manifesto for the 2019 General Election we have had to take account of this sea change in British politics. We address it by calling on political parties to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism in full. That is to say, with all its examples and without caveats.

The Manifesto also calls on political parties to take steps to eradicate antisemitism by outsourcing disciplinary processes to an independent provider to eradicate any risk of systemic partisanship and factionalism.

That said, there are plenty of other issues which Jews, as Jews, will be considering in this election: whether that’s the parties’ positions on Israel, on Jewish schools, on fundamental Jewish freedoms like shechita or circumcision, or indeed on wider issues of concern to society, like welfare, immigration, climate change and hate crime against different groups.

And of course, the Jewish community is equally concerned about the other great issues of the day. We want to play a full part in all aspects of society.

In our Manifesto we have set out what we understand to be the key concerns of the Jewish community, based on wides discussion and consultation. We are aware that where there are two Jews, there are three opinions, and not every Jew will agree with every word written, but we hope that most Jews will agree with most of the points we have included.

We have sent the Jewish Manifesto to candidates contesting the election to inform them of our priorities. We have also made it widely available to the Jewish community, to empower the UK’s Jews to challenge and question candidates of all parties on their views.

We encourage all members of the Jewish community to engage proactively in the election. Reach out to candidates and ask them to support the Jewish Manifesto’s ‘Ten Commitments’.

If we are to continue  to live safe, happy and free lives as Jews in the UK we need politicians to accept and support our key issues. We all have a role in ensuring they act on this.

Marie van der Zyl is Board of Deputies President. You can read the Jewish Manifesto here

November 19, 2019 17:36

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