The Board of Deputies has said it will organise a debate for Jewish community members to voice their views and concerns about a British exit from the European Union.
Board President Jonathan Arkush said: “This is a huge decision for the future of the country. Everyone needs to make up their own minds. I haven’t yet, I need to weigh up the arguments.”
Arkush said the ‘Brexit’ debate was “not an issue which has any clear implications for the Jewish community or Israel, so the Board does not intend to take a position on it”.
He suggested that Britain outside Europe – or Europe without Britain – “could propose a course of action against the interests of the Jewish community or Israel” so there were still issues to be weighed.
“It is true that European institutions have, in the past, discussed issues such as labelling of kosher meat, brit milah (male circumcision) and Israel, so who is to say that, in a future independent Westminster, something equally negative could not come forward?”
He added: “The officers of the Board of Deputies are planning to hold a debate on a British exit in the near future to debate these issues, so that those who think there are good reasons for the Jewish community to vote one way or another can voice those views.”
The Board’s announcement follows Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of a referendum date and comes as Jewish MPs and MPs representing constituencies with large Jewish populations began announcing their positions.
Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden (Con) joins several parliamentary colleagues in supporting Britain’s continued membership of the European Union.
Others who are ‘In’ include Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer (Con), South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer (Con), Northampton North MP Michael Ellis (Con), Watford representative Richard Harrington (Con) and Shadow Minister for Mental Health Luciana Berger MP (Lab).
Those supporting the ‘Out’ campaign include Harrow East MP Bob Blackman (Con) and Hendon MP Matthew Offord.