David Cameron’s re-election as prime minister was this week hailed as “very encouraging” for the Jewish community, after voters returned a Conservative government with a slim majority.
Community leaders said Cameron’s record on Israel and other issues of interest to British Jewry may have swung Jewish voters, adding that there were already “excellent relations” with several ministers who are set to stay.
“The re-elected government has form on Israel-Palestine, and we should all be very encouraged by the result,” said Board of Deputies’ Vice-President Jonathan Arkush, who is one of three candidates fighting to lead the organisation.
“David Cameron is not just pro-Israel, he really appreciates the whole range of issues facing the community, and I fully expect him to play a positive role in any new negotiations in the Middle East, which will one day have to happen.”
Similarly, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson said: “The community can take great comfort from the excellent relations we’ve had with this government, with many ministers still in senior positions.”
Both men said that work was now needed to repair relations with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with Arkush saying a “good line of communication needs to be quickly opened up” with whoever now leads them.
“We have many good friends there,” he said. “Whatever our differences may have been in recent times, both parties have always appreciated the issues at the heart of the community, such as tackling anti-Semitism.”
While both said work was needed to engage individual MPs in the new-look House of Commons, Johnson dismissed fears of a pro-Palestine bloc of SNP politicians, and said the new parliament would present less problems than the last.
“If there is an emerging issue, we need to have a number of MPs who we can call and express our concerns, and I think we’re better placed for that with this parliament than we were the last,” he said.
Board of Deputies’ Senior Vice-President Laura Marks said: “The results show just how important it is that the leadership of British Jewry keeps close to all sections of national leadership rather than supporting in a partisan way. Our relationships with every MP really matters.”
Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, whose father was a Labour MP, congratulated Cameron, adding that the Jewish community had “an outstanding relationship with the [previous Tory-led] government.”