OPINION: To vote as a Jew, you need to go beyond the Jews

OPINION: To vote as a Jew, you need to go beyond the Jews

Joel Salmon
Joel Salmon

By Joel Salmon, St Andrews University 

My non-Jewish friends often comment that Jews are a bit cliquey. We look out for each other, have an exclusive social circle, and are cousins with pretty much the whole of North London.

We are a strong, even powerful community.

Admit it, when you think about who to vote for, somewhere along the line comes the thought, “but which one of them is best for us?”

This is generally a good thing. I like that we are self-conscious enough to look after our own interests and that we have sufficient clout to do so. But this is not enough.

We must start thinking beyond our community, because we are not an island. Rather, we are but a few threads (albeit glorious threads) in a rich tapestry of British society. 

Therefore, we must move beyond prioritising issues that are, at best, marginal in the wider British discourse.

This is partly because the main parties tend to agree on the issues that most Jews identify with.

The Conservatives and Labour both strongly support Israel’s right to exist, oppose BDS, and advocate a fair two-state solution. 

Both Labour and the Conservatives have maintained state funding for the security of our schools and synagogues. And, both have also firmly sustained the rights of religious minorities to eat meat which has been slaughtered according to religious tradition.

In other words, they’re pretty kosher.

So what should we be focussing on?

For me, society should be organised so that those at the bottom have no institutional or social constraints to rising to the top.

As Jews, it’s fair to say that we’ve broken a lot of glass ceilings (and glasses at weddings) to achieve that end for ourselves. But now is the time to think about everyone.

A strong economy is not just about growth, it is about humans, and we need a government that recognises that.

What’s the point in having the world’s 6th largest economy if we are also the 7th most unequal? Have a think about which party is addressing that issue.

Similarly, we need a government that recognises that British people are not inherently superior to those elsewhere.

Clearly we need to be able to manage the integration of people who come into this country, but that does not mean we should demonise them, exploit them or treat them any differently.

As the good book says (Tevye style), ‘you were once strangers in the land of Egypt’. Indeed, most of our families were strangers in Britain at some point.

Security is important, but so is empathy. A healthy society is one where we are all treated with dignity.

Therefore, think not just about the ‘Jewish vote’, but about your vote. Think about which party will help to make a fairer, more equal and empathetic society when you vote tomorrow. 

  • The Jewish News has a dedicated student section with UJS. If you want to contribute please contact Online Editor: Jackm@thejngroup.com
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