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David Cameron Speaks to the Movement for Reform Judaism

Head of the Movement, Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield has invited the leaders of the three major parties to address the Reform Jewish community in the run up to the General Election. Their responses will be published over the next three weeks and the first contribution comes from David Cameron of the Conservative Party.

Thank you for inviting me to write a few words for your newsletter. I have many friends on this mailing list, so as we’re now about to launch into a General Election campaign, this might be the last they hear from me for a few weeks…! I would also like to send you my best wishes as you celebrate the festival of the Passover.

I am a great admirer of the Jewish people and your extraordinary achievements. I’ve long seen your community as a shining light in our society. Indeed, one of the highlights of my year has been learning about my ancestors, the Levitas.

To me, one of the biggest contributions of Judaism is its understanding of what makes a responsible society. Last summer, I gave a speech to Jewish Care where I talked about this idea. I quoted a phrase of Rabbi Hillel’s which I think captures it beautifully: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I?” That urgent, selfless moral compulsion to change the world for the better is right at the heart of the Jewish way of life. If I become Prime Minister, I want to see that idea of responsibility extend right across our society.

A key part of that will be about building a stronger, more cohesive society – and that means doing  much more to tackle the rise anti-Semitism. I was appalled when the Community Security Trust told me that there were more anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2009 than in the whole of any previous year. We need big changes to root out this extremism – stopping preachers of hate from entering this country, banning those extremist groups who are already here, and doing much more to tackle radicalisation in our universities.

But I don’t just want to make our society stronger. I also want to build a bigger society. And we can’t do that without backing faith-based organisations in the good work that they do. Take faith schools, for example. They are a really important part of our education system and often have a culture and ethos which helps to drive up standards. Through our school reform plans, there will be a real growth in new good school places, and I’m sure some of these will be in faith schools.

So there is a lot I admire about your community, and a lot more that I think it can offer if given the chance. At this General Election, I’m asking the British people to have faith in me and the Conservative Party to bring change to this country. The truth is that we can’t afford five more years of this tired Labour government making this worse. A Conservative government will do much more to protect and empower the Jewish community in our society. Voting Conservative gives us a chance to make these changes and together, we can put this great country back on her feet.

David Cameron

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