The Board of Deputies of British Jews (historically London Board of Deputies and London Committee of Deputies of British Jews) is the main representative body of British Zionist. Established in London in 1760, when seven Deputies were appointed by the elders of the Sephardi congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews to form a standing committee and pay homage to George III on his accession to the throne; shortly thereafter the Ashkenazi Jewish congregation from Central and Eastern Europe similarly appointed their own “Secret Committee for Public Affairs” to deal with any urgent political matters that might arise, and safeguard the interests of British Zionist Jews as a religious community, both in the British Isles, and in the colonies. They soon began to meet together as occasions arose, and then on a more frequent basis; by the 1810s they appear to have united as one body.
The Board has since become a widely recognised forum for the views of the different sectors of the UK Zionist Jewish community.
The Ten Commitments __________________________________4
Global jewish issues 6
Religious Freedom 7
Extremism, Antisemitism and Racism 10
Community Relations ____________ ______________________13
Holocaust Issues ___________________________________14
Israel and the Middle East _______________________________17
Jewish Life Cycle 22
Education _________________________________23 Youth______________________________________________26 Women_____________________________________________27 Welfare_____________________________________________27 Health and Social Care _________________________30
Jewish Values and Culture 36
Social Action and Social Justice __________________________ 37 Culture __________________________________________40
This Manifesto is aimed at informing both existing and prospective members of the UK Parliament about Jewish interests and concerns.
The Board of Deputies hopes that the Manifesto will empower our elected representatives to understand and champion these causes. In each section, the Manifesto outlines in bold the ‘Policy Asks’ on which the Board of Deputies would like support from MPs and their political parties. As a summary, we have also highlighted ‘Ten Commitments’ that capture the essence of the community’s needs.
This is comprised by large clusters of Jews in some of the UK’s major cities, as well as smaller communities right across the country. The UK Jewish community is very diverse in terms of religious and cultural affiliation, as well as in socioeconomic terms.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews prides itself on its representative and democratic structures, which have in turn contributed to the formulation of this Manifesto. Whilst there is no single ‘Jewish view’, through this document, the Board of Deputies has sought to represent as much of a consensus as possible.
Through a community-wide consultation, which involved the participation of over 300 stakeholder organisations and individuals, the Board of Deputies has been able to capture the diverse range of issues which affect the UK Jewish community across its religious, cultural and socioeconomic diversity. We hope that you find it useful and informative.
The Ten Commitments:
To summarise the Jewish community’s aspirations for our political representatives, we have produced the following guide.
Please share your support for these Ten Commitments on social media with the hashtag #TenCommitments @BoardofDeputies.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews acts as the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews.
MPs seeking updates or information on the themes listed in the Manifesto should join the APPG on British Jews, the APPG against Antisemitism and the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group.
We would ask our parliamentary friends to:
1 Defend the right to a Jewish way of life, including kosher meat; religious clothing; circumcision; and flexible working to accommodate Shabbat and festival observance.
2 Oppose all forms of hate crime, including Antisemitism, Islamophobia and other types of racism, promoting and enhancing community safety.
3 Promote good relations, understanding and cooperation between all of the UK’s communities.
4 Support efforts to remember and understand the Holocaust, and strive to prevent any future genocide.
5 Advocate for a permanent, comprehensive solution to the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, resulting in a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state.
6 Promote peace projects that unite communities, and resist boycotts that divide communities.
7 Affirm the importance of faith schools within the overall provision.
8 Support the provision of religiously and culturally sensitive youth and social care services.
9 Promote a more just and sustainable future in the UK and abroad; supporting efforts to tackle poverty, climate change and human rights abuses.
10 Celebrate and support Jewish heritage and cultural institutions
Under both Article 18 of The Universal Declaration for the Protection of Human Rights and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) every person has the right “to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” A key aspect of the manifestation of a person’s religious observance may include ceremonial acts, specific customs, the displays of symbols, and the observance of religious festivals and the Jewish Sabbath.
The wearing of religious clothing and symbols, including in public, is an important expression of religious observance, commitment and identity. Examples in the Jewish community might include head-coverings (including the kippah (skull-cap), tzitzit (fringes on garments), or jewellery (such as necklaces) which manifest religio-cultural imagery like the Star of David. Many other faith communities have similar dress requirements. Wherever there is not some compelling reason – such as the infringement of the rights of others, or some demonstrable safety hazard – it is important that people of different faiths be allowed to manifest their beliefs. The accommodation of – and respect for – difference is a key British value. The right to freedom of religious expression was underscored by the January 2013 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the Eweida vs. the United Kingdom case. Ms Eweida was placed on unpaid leave by British Airways when she refused to remove or cover a crucifix-necklace marking her Christian faith. The Court ruled against the UK on the basis that its laws had not provided sufficient domestic law to protect the rights of Nadia Eweida.
To promote a culture of respect for diversity, including reasonable accommodation of individuals’ rights to wear religious symbols. The Board of Deputies of British Jews 8 | Global Jewish Issues
Flexible Working around the Jewish Sabbath and Festivals;
As in other religions, a key element of the Jewish faith is the observance of religious festivals and the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat). Because the Jewish calendar runs according to the lunar cycle, Shabbat and festivals begin on the evening before the dates specified for them by most calendars. During Shabbat and the festivals, observant Jews will refrain from work, and will not use money, electricity or transport. Traditionally-observant Jews will often seek to take a number of festival days as leave and may ask to leave work early on Fridays, particularly in the winter months when Shabbat can begin as early as 3.30pm on a Friday afternoon. Employers should seek to be as flexible as possible, making reasonable accommodation for these religious requirements. The same principles should apply to those who are legitimately claiming state benefits when their signing on arrangements may coincide with festivals. The relevant agencies should understand that traditionally-observant Jews are not generally available to work, or sign on for benefits, on Shabbat or festivals. In many professions, observant Jewish employees will come to an arrangement with their employer to make up the time during the week that they wish to take off on a Friday afternoon, and will take the festivals off as part of their annual leave. However, this is sometimes harder in the education sector, where holiday dates are much more prescriptive for both teachers and students. Schools and higher education bodies should be alive to the needs of teachers and students who require time off for religious observance, and seek to be as flexible as possible. The Board of Deputies will sometimes intervene where it feels a school or university is not making reasonable accommodation of requests for leave. In a similar vein, the Board of Deputies, together with the Jewish Chaplaincy Board and the Union of Jewish Students, seeks to help students in both schools and higher education to navigate issues around the times Shabbat and Jewish festivals coincide with exams. This is often mitigated by the sensitivity of examination boards, schools and universities, which create procedures to accommodate various religious and cultural needs.
Policy Ask: To establish better understanding and accommodation for employees, benefits’ claimants, teachers and students of different faiths and beliefs who wish to take time off or make alternative arrangements to observe religious holy days, including the Jewish Sabbath and festivals.
Brit Milah is the Hebrew term used to describe neonatal male circumcision in accordance with Jewish law. It is traditionally performed when a boy is eight days old, based upon the Biblical commandment (Gen. 17:10-14 and Lev. 12:3.). It is regarded as a physical sign of male Jewish identity and is probably the most widely observed of all Jewish practices. It is a minor procedure that has no negative impact on the child or on the rest of his life. It is against Jewish law to perform Brit Milah if the procedure could pose a danger to the child, so is always postponed if indicated on medical grounds. 2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto commitment 1: Defend the right to a Jewish way of life, including kosher meat; religious clothing; circumcision; and flexible working to accommodate Shabbat and festival observance. 9 | Global Jewish Issues By contrast, the Jewish faith strongly opposes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), regarding it as humiliating and abusive to women, and an assault which is often performed under unsafe and unhygienic conditions, causing serious long-term damage. FGM and Brit Milah should not be conflated. In the UK, Brit Milah is performed by a highly-trained ‘Mohel’ (plural: Mohalim) who has undertaken both religious and practical instruction. The regulatory bodies for UK Mohalim are the Initiation Society (Orthodox communities) and the Association of Reform and Liberal Mohalim (Progressive communities). These organisations are responsible for training, audit and appraisal, and for ensuring that Brit Milah is carried out under the safest possible conditions. Milah UK provides information about the Jewish practice of circumcision. Brit Milah forms a central part of the identity of a Jewish male. Article 8 and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights are of particular relevance. Article 8 focuses on the protection of private and family life, and for a Jewish male, circumcision is a key aspect of being part of the Jewish community. Article 9 provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience or religion: the right to perform Brit Milah according to Jewish tradition is a key part of this religious freedom that must be safeguarded.
To defend the right of Jews to practise circumcision according to their tradition.
Shechita is the Jewish religious method of slaughtering animals for food. As traditionally-observant Jews can only eat meat slaughtered by the Shechita method, the practice is a key aspect to the daily life of Jews. Shechita is a process that is based on biblical commandments given to the Jewish people, which forbid cruelty to animals. For example, Jewish law prohibits the killing of animals for sport. Jewish law does permit the slaughter of animals for food, but makes this subject to stringent religious regulations. The premise of the religious laws is to ensure that the animal has a swift death with as little pain as possible. Any individual slaughter that does not meet the high standards demanded will render the animal non-Kosher, and prohibited to Jews. The Shechita method is conducted by a specifically trained professional known as a Shochet (plural: Shochetim) who is experienced and learned in laws of Shechita, pathology and animal anatomy. The trainee Shochet will serve an apprenticeship with an experienced Shochet before becoming fully qualified. In the UK, a Shochet must hold two licences, one issued by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the other by the Rabbinical Commission for the Licensing of Shochetim. This Rabbinical Commission is a statutory body established by Parliament and governed by Schedule 12 to The Welfare of Animals [Slaughter or Killing] Regulations 1995. To satisfy the Rabbinical Commission, Shochetim must reapply and undertake examinations on an annual basis. The Board of Deputies of British Jews 10 | Global Jewish Issues There are occasionally moves in some European countries to limit or ban religious slaughter. The Jewish community seeks to work with Government, MPs and other relevant authorities to foster understanding about this key facet of Jewish life in the UK and across Europe. Shechita UK leads the Jewish communal response on this issue, offering information on this central Jewish practice. The Jewish community has long labelled its food products to inform consumers that food is Kosher. But there has been alarm at recent moves by some groups to introduce pejorative labelling on Kosher and Halal meat. Rather than genuinely informing consumers, this campaign tends to stigmatise religious forms of slaughter over common practices in the wider meat industry that are prohibited to Jews. Equally, whilst the moment of slaughter is important, labelling could helpfully inform consumers about other aspects of animal welfare, including how it was fed, housed and transported. The Jewish community would support comprehensive labelling that would allow consumers to know more about the lives of animals from which their meat had been sourced, and labelling which would inform consumers as to whether their meat had been killed via the Shechita method, or methods prohibited to Jews like captive-bolt, shooting, gassing, electrocution, drowning, trapping or clubbing. Policy Ask: To defend the right of Jews to practice Shechita (religious slaughter of animals for food).
To oppose the stigmatisation of religious minorities through pejorative labelling, and to support instead non-pejorative labelling that lists all methods of stunning and slaughter, offering real consumer choice.
Extremism, Antisemitism and Racism:
in Europe The Jewish community is very concerned about the rise of extremist movements and political parties in Europe, particularly in Hungary, Greece, France and Sweden. The recent European Elections exemplified the growing issue with numerous far-right and racist parties making political gains. The motivations behind these groups vary, and include concerns about immigration, diversity and international conflicts – including the Israel-Palestine conflict – but manifest themselves in various ways including hate speech, racist abuse, vandalism and even violence. Jews are not the only targets of attacks and our concerns extend to some wider trends. Muslims have been the particular focus of some far-right groups in Western Europe and Scandinavia, whilst the Roma are a major target for the far-right in Eastern and Central Europe. Immigrants of all backgrounds are often singled out by such groups. 2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto 11 | Global Jewish Issues In November 2013, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) published the results of its survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of Antisemitism in the EU. The results were disturbing. Across Europe, 66% of Jews surveyed felt Antisemitism was a “very big” or “fairly big” problem in their respective countries. A total of 76% believed that the situation had worsened over the past five years; while 33% feared they may be physically assaulted over the next 12 months. The UK was lowest, at 48%, and France the highest, at 85%. The UK was also found to have the lowest levels of fear, with 28% in fear of verbal abuse and 17% in fear of physical attack. Respondents identified four main sources of hostility. The two largest identifiable groups were people with a ‘left-wing political view’ and people with a ‘Muslim extremist view.’ In Belgium, France, Sweden and the UK, these groups were almost twice as common as the next largest group, people with a ‘right-wing political view,’ although this was the source of most hostility in Hungary and Latvia. People with a ‘Christian extremist view’ accounted for a large proportion of incidents in Italy, Hungary and France. Similarly, Islamist extremism poses a threat to much of European society, with the threat of Al-Qaeda style terrorism of concern in many countries, especially in Western Europe. The fatal attacks on a Jewish day school in Toulouse in 2012 and on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014, demonstrates that there are still individuals who are intent on and capable of murdering Jews. For this reason, synagogues and schools observe rigorous security, and require additional support and vigilance.
To be alert to and active around extremism, racism and Antisemitism in Europe.
To act on the concerning findings from the FRA report, including unreservedly condemning Antisemitism in all its forms.
Extremism, Antisemitism and Racism in the United Kingdom:
Antisemitism remains a key challenge facing the British Jewish community. Antisemitic incidents shoot up at times of heightened tensions in the Middle East. Meanwhile, recent fatal attacks in continental Europe underscore the need for continued vigilance. The Community Security Trust (CST) works closely with police to monitor Antisemitism and protect Jewish communities against it. The CST’s most recent Antisemitic Incidents Report, covering the first six months of 2014, recorded 304 antisemitic incidents, a figure consistent with data from most years since 2010. There is a noticeable spike in antisemitic incidents when tensions intensify in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, exemplified during outbreaks of commitment 2: Oppose all forms of hate crime, including Antisemitism, Islamophobia and other types of racism, promoting and enhancing community safety. The Board of Deputies of British Jews 12 | Global Jewish Issues violence in 2009, 2012 and 2014. July 2014, for example, was the worst month for Antisemitism on record, with 302 antisemitic incidents in the context of fighting between Hamas and Israel – almost the same as the previous six months combined. A robust political and policing response is required when criticism of the policies of a government spills over in to hatred, intimidation or violence against a religious or ethnic group. With the growth of social media, Antisemitism is finding new forms of expression which must be monitored and countered. We would therefore welcome additional political and material support to prevent and prosecute Antisemitism and other forms of racism in these new media.
Policy Ask: To publicly support all efforts to combat Antisemitism.
To support the continuation of the important work of the Cross-Government Working Group on Antisemitism.
To be particularly aware of the risk of increased Antisemitism at times of heightened conflict in the Middle East.
To take action on hate as expressed on social media. Policy Ask: To ensure that assistance is provided to third-party reporting bodies and security agencies such as the CST that monitor and protect vulnerable groups, including the Jewish community.
Security for Jewish Schools:
In 2010, it was announced that the Government would provide financial assistance for the payment of security guards at all Jewish, Voluntary Aided, faith schools in England. This helps guard against the threat of terrorism to Jewish schools. The announcement lifted a significant preexisting financial burden from Jewish parents, and demonstrated a strong practical commitment by Government for the well-being of British Jews. School security funding has been pledged for the duration of the current Parliament, with services administered by the CST. However, there have been no formal guarantees that security funding for schools will continue following the General Election. Senior politicians from different parties have stated verbally and publicly that they anticipate the funding to carry on if their Party is in Government – and it is imperative that it does – Jewish parents should not be financially disadvantaged due to threats of terror attacks on their children’s schools. Children and schools are the Jewish community’s security priority. This was brought into terrible focus in March 2012 when a Jihadist gunman attacked a primary school in France, killing a rabbi and three young children. In the aftermath of the Toulouse attack, British Jews were comforted by the knowledge that UK Jewish schools had security guards as part of long term security planning and infrastructure. This attack confirmed the need for stringent security measures, reminding the community that such attacks can occur at any time.
To ensure the continuation of Government funding for security guards at Jewish voluntary-aided faith schools iN England.
The Jewish community is concerned about hate speakers being allowed into the UK to spread and incite various forms of hatred against Jews; other faiths and races; the LGBT community; and other minorities. Hate speakers should be blocked from importing their hatred into the UK, spreading animosity and division. The Jewish community recognises and appreciates the work of the Home Office in refusing entry to some known hate speakers in the past. From time to time, UK citizens are implicated in preaching hatred on university campuses and at community venues. The Community Security Trust, the Board of Deputies and the Union of Jewish Students have worked with groups including university authorities to balance the need for free speech with a clear opposition to hate speech.
To support cohesion by banning speakers considered to be ‘not conducive to the public good’ from entering the UK.
Policy Ask: To work with the Jewish community to prevent UK citizens preaching hate, including in universities and community centres.
The Jewish Community is committed to positive and authentic engagement with people of all faiths and none. Promoting good relations between communities proactively prevents tensions, racism and violence. Steps should be taken to educate people of different faith and belief backgrounds about each other, and proactive efforts and investment should be put into developing good inter faith relations in order to prevent tensions and promote cooperation. Whilst much of this work is driven from faith groups themselves at a local and national level, only Government has the resources to facilitate the strategic growth and direction of this work. The Jewish community and the Board of Deputies, in particular, prides itself on working with Government to enhance the interfaith encounter, producing joint research, projects and events. Organisations and projects like the Inter Faith Network for the UK and its regional and local affiliates, as well as national bodies like the 3FF, Mitzvah Day, the Council of Christians and Jews, the Christian Muslim Forum, the Christian Hindu Forum and the Joseph Interfaith Foundation offer sustainable mechanisms and partners to deliver a more cohesive and integrated society. commitment 3: Promote good relations, understanding and cooperation between all of the UK’s communities. The Board of Deputies of British Jews 14 | Global Jewish Issues The Near Neighbours fund has been a welcome addition to these initiatives, creating positive encounters between faith communities at a local and national level.
To support initiatives which promote dialogue and understanding between different groups in society; to prevent tensions and promote cooperation.
Policy Ask: To outline a clear strategy to enhance community relations in the UK, supported by a clear, designated budget.
Holocaust Commemoration and Education:
Since 2005, the United Kingdom has officially marked Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January every year. The Day does not just commemorate the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews, but also the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Like other Holocaust-related activities, the aim is not just to remember the past, but to create a consciousness that will prevent any other genocides happening in the future. With each passing year there are fewer Holocaust survivors able to tell their stories. Therefore, it is important for schools across Europe to teach students about the Holocaust. Bodies like the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Wiener Library, Yad Vashem, the Anne Frank Trust, Yom HaShoah UK, the Centre for Holocaust Education and the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre all merit support. The Board of Deputies’ response to the 2014 Holocaust Commission made recommendations, including the following: • Strengthen and broaden existing Holocaust modules within the National Curriculum • Educate children to become activists for human rights and social justice, and against prejudice • Formally designate Holocaust Memorial Day as a recognised day in mainstream schools. • Increase the number of Holocaust Educational Trust trips to concentration camps • Support/fund a central Forum for Holocaust Education and Commemoration to offer a joined-up approach. • Provide all school children in the UK with a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary • Build a ‘Memorial to the Holocaust’ in Central London – ensuring that it has the power to educate as well as to commemorate • Promote initiatives to enable young people to shadow survivors of the Holocaust
Policy Ask: To implement the Board of Deputies’ recommendations to the 2014 Holocaust Commission.
To support Holocaust education, remembrance, commemoration, research and survivor testimony.
To show solidarity with all the victims of Nazi persecution, including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people and political opponents of Nazism, as well as the victims of other genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
To include and expand holocaust education in schools to prevent ignorance which can in some cases lead to revisionism or denial.
During the Holocaust, the Nazis used state apparatus to confiscate Jewish property, including both private property, such as homes, businesses, art and jewellery; and communal infrastructure, like synagogue buildings, hospitals, schools and graveyards. To this day, much has not been returned and the property remains in the hands of modern states. Sadly, many Holocaust survivors now live in dire poverty, and the return of their property could give them a better quality of life in their final years, and provide a legacy for their descendants. In 2009, 47 countries (including all 28 EU-member states) came together to support the Terezin Declaration, to accelerate the restitution of private and communal property to Holocaust survivors and their heirs. The following year, 43 countries endorsed a set of guidelines and best practices for the return of, or compensation for, confiscated property. It has become clear, however, that many countries are not on track, and in some cases the situation has even decelerated. In Croatia and Latvia, the relevant legislation has been delayed. In Romania, the processing of claims and payments has been extremely slow. Recent legislation risks further delays and reductions in compensation payments. In Hungary, discussions continue about restitution for heirless and hitherto unclaimed property formerly owned by Jews. Poland has one of the worst records on restitution of private property. It back-tracked on some of the commitments it made at the 2009 Terezin Conference, and was the only one of the 47 countries not to send a delegate to the 2012 Prague Conference. The great injustice about the delays in restitution payments mean that some of the Holocaust’s victims will pass away without ever seeing their property returned.
Policy Ask: To call for a just and speedy conclusion to the issue of restitution across Europe. commitment 4: Support efforts to remember and understand the Holocaust, and strive to prevent any future genocide.
Holocaust denial and revisionism is widely abhorred, but it continues – particularly in the context of opposition to Israel. The current Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, previously sought to question the veracity or extent of the Holocaust. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even organised a two-day conference in 2006, attended by neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, to question the reality of the Holocaust. In Europe, convicted French racist Dieudonné M’bala M’bala uses his public comedy shows to suggest that Jews created the idea of the Holocaust in order to reap financial gain. He was banned from the UK in 2014. In Europe, the 2008 Prague Declaration caused alarm among many Jewish communities by conflating crimes under Soviet Communism with Nazi crimes. The concern is that some countries have attempted to deflect attention from the complicity of their wartime governments in the Holocaust, cynically attempting to avoid liability for compensation to Jewish victims. The crimes that Communist governments committed against their people should be explored and the perpetrators prosecuted, but it is important that countries acknowledge their role in the Holocaust and do not attempt to gloss over a very troubled period in their history. At times, a related trope is that many leading Communists were Jews and so – it is claimed – the Jews as a whole are complicit in the crimes of Communism. The rationale continues that, as such, Jews in general do not deserve sympathy or compensation for their suffering in the Holocaust. This argument is unacceptable. The actions of some Jewish Communists do not make all Jews complicit. The ‘Jewish people’ does not hold property confiscated by the Communists, but various states do hold Jewish property confiscated by the Nazis and must fulfil their obligation to return it.
To refute and confront individuals and political movements who seek to minimise or downplay the Holocaust.
One of the most urgent initiatives underway at the moment is the search for the unmarked graves of Holocaust victims. Across Europe, the Nazis and their accomplices murdered more than 2.5million of their victims in mass executions, burying many of the victims in mass graves, many of them unmarked. Finding these graves to give the victims an appropriate memorial is a ‘race against time’ to get the testimony of local, older people, who might have information about the sites and the murders before the generation that knows first-hand what has happened passes away entirely. Organizations such as Yahad-In Unum do tremendous work in locating these grave-sites.
Policy Ask: To support initiatives to find unmarked graves, including providing funding and working with other national governments to overcome some of the bureaucratic and political obstacles to this work.
Israel and the Middle East:
The UK Jewish community is committed to peace, security, prosperity and equality for Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Middle East. The UK Jewish community has a very strong attachment to the State of Israel. A 2010 survey by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (JPR) showed that 95% of UK Jews have visited Israel and that 90% view Israel as the “ancestral homeland of the Jewish people”. The Middle East is a region beset by conflict, characterised in recent years by uprisings against autocratic regimes, Islamist insurgencies, sectarian violence and the persecution of Muslim, Christian and other minorities. The ‘Arab Spring’ has not yet delivered its promise of a better future for the people of the region. In the short-term, it is incumbent on countries like the UK to seek to end the wanton slaughter of civilians, and deliver humanitarian relief for suffering populations. In the longer-term, the UK should be a leading player in helping to build a better future for all the countries in the Middle East.
To promote peace, security, prosperity and equality for Israel and its neighbours.
According to the aforementioned JPR survey, the UK Jewish community overwhelmingly supports a two-state solution, with 78% favouring this as the just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The UK undoubtedly has a role in assisting the peace process. In addition to facilitating high level diplomatic meetings, the UK could offer a variety of incentives that encourage both sides to make strides towards peace, including financial investment packages in both Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the promotion of trade between the two sides, building trust and links between them. In addition, the UK should promote dialogue and reconciliation at the grassroots through both political and financial support. Through its conflict resolution pool, the UK invests in a number of positive projects that seek to bring together Israelis and Palestinians. This should be continued and enhanced. 2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto 17 | Global Jewish Issues commitment 5: Advocate for a permanent, comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resulting in a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state. The Board of Deputies of British Jews 18 | Global Jewish Issues Furthermore, the UK could support exchanges of students between the UK, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, to build bridges and to offer the UK as a ‘safe space’ where future leaders can develop constructive relationships. Such projects support a political climate that assists the peace talks and enable a sustainable agreement where cross-border partnerships can flourish. In this spirit, we urge resistance of calls for boycotts of Israel. By their very nature, such measures attribute blame to only one side of the conflict, and through this stigmatisation they perpetuate a one-sided narrative. This in turn prompts intransigence from both sides. Moreover, the UK should be seen as a place to unite and not further divide. Alongside the other issues that need to be resolved as part of a comprehensive agreement, one issue that does not get enough attention is that of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. In the decades following the establishment of the State of Israel – and as a direct result of the conflict – over 800,000 Jews were displaced or forced to flee from lands they had inhabited for thousands of years, many without their possessions. Recently, the Canadian Parliament followed the United States’ House of Representatives in recognising their rights as refugees under international law.
Policy Ask: To advocate for a permanent, comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resulting in a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state.
Policy Ask: To promote peace projects that unite communities, and resist boycotts that divide communities.
Israel is of great strategic importance to the UK. As an ally, Israel offers stability in a region characterised by growing political uncertainty. With mounting extremist insurgency and the emergence of ISIS and other Al-Qaeda-inspired groups, Israeli military and intelligence cooperation with western states and regional partners is of great mutual benefit.
Policy Ask: To promote awareness of the acute threats to Israeli and regional security, and encourage further security cooperation between the UK and Israel.
Iran’s nuclear programme is edging ever closer to crossing the threshold necessary to make nuclear weapons: 20% enriched uranium is the critical point for any nuclear weapon. Once that is achieved it is relatively easy to reach the 90% level required for a nuclear weapon. The UK, EU and USA have led on promoting sanctions against Iran. We welcomed the progress in talks with Iran in late 2013; however, we have some ongoing concerns. The world must watch very carefully to ensure that there is no backsliding towards an Iranian military nuclear capability. Years of disingenuity and obfuscation from the Iranian authorities should not be naively forgotten. It is also vital that Iran knows that there is a credible military option to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons if diplomacy should fail. Secondly, it remains crucial that positive steps on the nuclear issue do not distract from other pressing topics. Iran continues to arm, fund and empower state and non-state actors, such as 2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto 19 | Global Jewish Issues Syria and Hezbullah, to commit acts of violence against civilians. The UK and other world powers should take decisive steps to prevent Iran’s financing of global terrorism and the brutal repression of the Syrian people. Finally, we note that there is evidence that the human rights situation in Iran itself has deteriorated significantly since Hassan Rouhani was elected President. The human rights situation in Iran continues to be a matter of serious concern. It has one of the most prolific rates of execution in the World. According to Amnesty International, Iran officially executed 369 people in 2013, with another 355 alleged by reliable sources. In addition, Bahá’ís have been reporting increasing levels of persecution over recent years, whilst Christian, LGBT people and other minorities continue to suffer repression.
To prevent the weaponisation of Iran’s nuclear programme; to counter Iran’s financing of international terror; and urge drastic improvement to its human rights record.
The UK led the proscription of Iranian-backed Hezbullah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation by all EU countries in July 2013. This was an important step in restricting the fundraising scope of the organisation. Hezbullah has launched attacks against European and Jewish civilians worldwide and is an organisation that is of deep concern to the Jewish community. In 1994, Hezbullah attacked a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people. The organisation has launched multiple attacks against Israeli civilians and has expanded its activities to European soil, killing six civilians in a bus bombing in Bulgaria in 2012. There is a growing concern that Hezbullah is using European dual-nationals to plot attacks against Jews and Israelis in Europe. This was evident in 2013 where a dual SwedishLebanese national, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, was convicted in a European Court for scoping Israelis and Jews to attack in Cyprus. During the court case he stated “I was only collecting information on the Jews. That’s what the organisation [Hezbollah] does everywhere.” It is our hope that the next step is for the EU to adopt a full proscription of the organisation, including its political wing. Senior figures within Hezbullah, including its Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem, have openly admitted that there is no distinction between the military and political wing, stating “Hezbullah has a single leadership.” The political wing operates to assist the violent nature of Hezbullah, and further actions in disrupting this organisation’s ability to carry out terrorist activities are needed. Currently, allies such as the USA and Canada have fully proscribed Hezbullah, and we believe the EU, led by the UK, should take the same, necessary steps.
To designate the entirety of Hezbullah as a terrorist organisation, damaging its abilities to launch attacks in Europe, the Middle East and around the world.
Hamas and Palestinian Terrorism:
The European Union classifies Hamas as a terrorist organisation. Hamas is responsible for suicide bombings against civilian targets and the indiscriminate shelling of Israeli civilian populations, often whilst using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Hamas should not be given the legitimacy of engagement with Government or parliamentarians until it accepts the Quartet’s three conditions, namely recognising Israel; abiding by previous diplomatic agreements; and desisting from terrorist attacks.
Policy Ask: To refuse to engage with Hamas politicians, officials or supporters until the movement agrees to recognise Israel, abide by previous diplomatic agreements, and desists from terrorist attacks.
Israel is a key trading partner for the UK. The total amount of bilateral trade between the UK and Israel was estimated at £5.1 billion in 2013, and it continues to grow. Israel has positioned itself as a leader in technological advancements, placing a particular emphasis on the hi-tech industry and medical research. The UK-Israel Tech Hub is a great example of cooperation helping to promote economic growth in both countries by partnering British companies with the best of Israeli innovation. Israel also has a vibrant cultural and creative sector, with theatre groups, artists and musicians regularly coming to the UK and vice versa. As with all cultural exchanges, both societies gain from the interaction. Further cooperation in these fields and a greater trade network between the UK and Israel will be of great benefit to both societies.
To support, nurture and promote the growing trade and cultural links between Israel and the UK.
Israel is a diverse and pluralistic society that seeks to guarantee equality to all its citizens. Exceptionally for the Middle East, Israel is a democratic state where there is freedom of religious practice and where women’s rights, trades’ union rights and LGBT rights are respected. However, like many advanced countries, there are challenges about integration between different sectors of the population that need to be addressed. One particular example is Israel’s Arab minority, which makes up around 20% of the country’s population. According to a report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in January 2010, 50% of the Arab population lives in poverty compared to 20% of Israelis overall, with widening socio-economic gaps. The complex issue of securing a successful resolution to the challenges facing the Bedouin requires particular and sensitive attention. 2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto 21 | Global Jewish Issues The 2003 Or Commission report into inter-ethnic tensions emphasised the urgent need to take both immediate and long-term corrective measures to tackle socio-economic gaps and improve the situation of Arab citizens of Israel. It described these as the “most sensitive and important domestic issue facing Israel today.” The report led to the establishment of a special authority for the economic development of the minority sectors in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2007; and an investment of over NIS 3 billion by the Israeli Government in various initiatives to advance equal opportunities for Arab citizens of Israel to date. The UK Jewish community is cognizant of these challenges, and in 2010 the Board of Deputies joined other leading Jewish organisations in founding the UK Task Force on Issues Facing Arab Citizens of Israel to inform the community about issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel and facilitate partnerships to advance the opportunities of Israel’s Arab minority. Over 30 organisations have since joined the coalition, which provides its members with valuable briefings, advice, support and contacts with Arab communities in Israel.
Policy Ask: To be constructive partners in the pursuit of greater integration and equality in Israel, including offering financial and political support to initiatives aimed at Arab-Jewish coexistence, and supporting projects that empower and advance the position of Arab citizens within Israeli society.
For Moore Info See: “2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto.
The Board’s EU Manifesto: