By Hannah Sharron, a University of Birmingham student
‘Veahavta Lereacha Kamocha – love thy neighbour as thyself.’
We are taught this ideal from a young age: for me it started as a song in my Jewish primary school, and it has remained a guiding principle of my education outside the classroom right up to my experience at NUS Conference last month, where UJS’s fringe event about LGBT+ issues in religion, ‘Faith not Fear’, was linked to the famous verse.
When I registered to vote back in February, I was unsure which party would actually get my vote.
I ruled out the Liberal Democrats because of their broken pledges on tuition fees. Whilst I am not that bothered about paying the higher fees, since I believe the loan repayment system will alleviate the burden, I also do not want a leader who has a record of broken promises.
I was still caught between the reds and the blues.
I took several versions of the online quizzes; the ones that tell you who to vote for based on their policies rather than their propaganda.
I did them frequently between February and May, each time choosing my preferred policies on issues such as education, crime, the economy and immigration.
With the rise of General Election fever over the last few months, I became more educated about the issues each party was promising to tackle and thus made more informed decisions each time I took the quizzes.
Yet even as those quizzes repeatedly told me who my beliefs aligned with, I was reluctant to commit to voting for a specific party.
I knew I wanted to vote for a myriad of reasons, but there was a mental block for me that was preventing me from committing to who I would vote for.
That mental block was Israel.
I hold dual nationality and visit several times a year; my heart is truly in Israel. And despite what others may say, I did not consider Ed Miliband a friend of Israel.
Cameron is flawed in my opinion, but on balance, I believe he is a much stauncher supporter of Israel, and I did not feel comfortable giving my vote to someone who condemns Israel’s self-defence.
And yet I did not necessarily want to vote for the Tories either.
Because Conservative MPs do not always support my interests in the UK.
It bothered me that just 48% of Conservative MPs voted in favour of equal marriage for same sex couples, compared to 91% of Labour MPs.
It frustrated me that the NHS has become a piece of propaganda, with parties competing to pledge more funds than the others.
And it angers me that some parties and news outlets sunk to smear campaigns, knocking other candidates down.
Didn’t they tell you? Putting someone else down won’t elevate you, and you shouldn’t raise your voice, you should better your argument.
When it came to decision day, I had one thing running through my mind: ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’
The issues which are important to my LGBT friends, my friends who need the NHS or my friends in education are automatically important to me.
Deciding who to vote for based on their policies on Israel would be narrow minded of me, and would have required me to ignore the needs of my friends, going against the principle which has been the cornerstone of my education.
I won’t tell anyone who I voted for, or who they should have voted for. But I will say that when I voted, I did so with the principle of loving my neighbour as myself in mind; which to me, means putting my love for Israel aside and voting for the party who I believe will build the country that I want to live in.
- The Jewish News has a dedicated student section with UJS. If you want to contribute please contact Online Editor: Jackm@thejngroup.com