Key issues to debate as poll nears

The Board of Deputies has produced a manifesto taking in areas including antisemitism, Israel, education and religious freedoms such as shechita and brit milah.


Leading charities and communal organisations have drawn up their own lists of desired policies which they think Jewish voters should take into consideration before heading into the polling booth next week.

The Board of Deputies has produced a manifesto taking in areas including antisemitism, Israel, education and religious freedoms such as shechita and brit milah.

The Board has devised 10 “commitments” it wants parties to pledge to meet.

Top of the list is the need for elected MPs to “oppose extremism and hate crime, including antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of hate”.

Jewish voters canvassed by candidates should ask how they plan to defend and support a Jewish way of life, including support for religious clothing and ensuring Jews have access to flexible working to accommodate Shabbat and festival observance, the Board says.

A Board spokesperson encouraged community members to take part in Jewish hustings featuring senior politicians.

“Hustings are a way of allowing voters to hear from politicians themselves about their policies affecting the Jewish community,” he said.

The Jewish Leadership Council endorsed the Board’s manifesto, adding five key areas it wants to look at.

Countering terrorism and antisemitism were the top priorities for the JLC, as well as religious slaughter, brit milah and attitudes to faith schools.

Simon Johnson, JLC chief executive, said it was important for voters to consider the parties’ positions on foreign policies that affect Israel and the Middle East, encouraging “balance”.

“We urge the community to study the manifestos on these and other issues, and to question candidates on them if they come to the doorstep,” he said.

The Union of Jewish Students has worked to ensure young voters registered to vote ahead of last week’s deadline, especially those who will be on campus on June 8, and those who plan to vote for the first time.

Josh Nagli, UJS campaigns director, said: “As a student you can register to vote in two places, such as where you live in term time and where you live in the holidays.

“This is handy if you’re not sure where you’ll be on June 8, but it is important to remember it is an offence to vote twice.”

He said students’ concerns could feature heavily in the final days of campaigning across the country.

“Tuition fees, rising rents, a student mental health crisis and uncertainties created by Brexit are all major issues that affect Jewish students and will therefore be some of the policy areas that they’ll be considering.

“We also encourage Jewish students to think about different parties’ approaches to tackling antisemitism, and racism more widely, as well as their positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (Jcore) and René Cassin urged the community to reflect on issues that not only affect them but wider society.

As part of its efforts to help voters, Jcore said voters should look at what politicians pledge to do to help refugees.

Dr Edie Friedman, Jcore director, said: “We have to consider policies that affect other people and that work to promote community cohesion.

“Jewish tradition puts this responsibility on us. We have to think about policies that not only directly impact the community but affect others, especially if they are vulnerable.”

In its own manifesto, Jcore urges people to ask candidates if they would support the reintroduction of the Dubs Amendment.

Dr Friedman said: “The Dubs Amendment was put in place to relocate vulnerable unaccompanied children at risk of sexual abuse, trafficking and slavery in Europe to safety in the UK.

“The government announced the end of the scheme in February 2017 with only 480 of the expected 3,000 children brought to Britain. We don’t think that is good enough.”

René Cassin said it hoped the next government would provide a human rights system to protect the most vulnerable people in society.

The charity advised Jews to vote for a party which shows a commitment to protecting the Human Rights Act and maintains a commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sam Grant, campaigns and programme manager for René Cassin, said: “Equality and the protection of vulnerable minorities have long been concerns of the Jewish community.

“Our five questions are designed to help Jewish voters understand where different parties stand on modern-day slavery, indefinite immigration detention, discrimination and human rights safeguards.”

See all our Election 2017 coverage here

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