OPINION: A manifesto forged in the shadow of October 7th

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OPINION: A manifesto forged in the shadow of October 7th

Facing challenges, of terrorism, hatred and extremism, our response must be to unite.

This election comes at an inflection point for the UK Jewish community. The Board of Deputies’ Jewish Manifesto for the 2024 General Election, released this week, has been unmistakably forged in the Shadow of October 7.

It responds to the aftermath of the appalling Hamas terrorist atrocities of that fateful day, the 120 hostages held captive in Gaza, and the avalanche of global hatred directed against Jewish communities, on our streets, online, on campus and, occasionally, even in our politics.

This election, many Jews will look at which parties will stand firm for Israel’s right to defend itself, whilst protecting civilians, and which will keep us safe here in the UK.

These challenges, of terrorism, hatred and extremism, are not ones that face Jews, or Israel, alone. Our response must be to unite. We must build an optimistic alliance across people of all faiths and none to stand up for a cohesive society that does not import conflict, but exports peace instead.

We will be looking to which politicians can best help us to achieve this vision. The 2024 Jewish Manifesto – the latest in a series which has been running for a decade – contains a significantly expanded section on antisemitism, and the clarion call to secure the release of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, two key focal points for our community. It covers core Jewish issues, like religious freedom and faith schools, welfare and Jewish culture.

Phil Rosenberg

At the same time, however, many of the issues covered are ones that are felt across society, from the cost-of-living crisis to housing, from health to social care; each discussing the unique challenges that the Jewish community experiences in these sectors. British Jews contribute so much to the common good of our country, with our own diverse traditions and heritage. We are leading partners in efforts to take on universal challenges like poverty, discrimination, inequality and climate change, and we want our politicians to take action too.

The Manifesto, which runs to 42 pages in length, starts with the Ten Commitments, a summary of Jewish interests and concerns, with politicians invited to share their support for these Commitments online. The snap election has led to a rapid turnaround of the Manifesto, but over recent months we had been preparing with for the election through extensive consultation with Deputies and a wide range of communal stakeholders.

While there is no single ‘Jewish view’, the Board has sought to represent as much of a consensus as possible. The launch of the Jewish Manifesto comes alongside around 30 hustings events organised by Jewish communities around the country, supported by the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the London Jewish Forum, and regional Jewish representative councils, with the Jewish News as our media partner.

We encourage our community to attend. Combined with the Jewish Manifesto, these events give the Jewish community a tremendous opportunity to participate in the democratic process and make their views known to our prospective political leaders.

However, the Manifesto, is not intended to simply be for elections. It is also there to act as a guide for politicians in the months and years of the next Parliament, showing them how to best stand with our community. Whoever forms the next Government, our mission at the Board of Deputies will be to use this Manifesto to hold them to account, in order to protect, support and empower our incredible community into the future.

  • Phil Rosenberg is the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
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