Cameron: 'I will empower UK Jews'

Justin Cohen - Thursday 15th April 2010


David Cameron this week insisted a Conservative government would do "much more to protect and empower the Jewish community" and described learning about his Jewish ancestors as one of the highlights of his year.

The Conservative leader's comments came in a message to members of the Movement for Reform Judaism, which he used to make pledges on tackling anti-Semitism and education and to appeal for the support of community members in the upcoming election.

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Cameron said: "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 Hillelís 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 in 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."

The man hoping to succeed Gordon Brown as prime minister also touched on a prominent theme of the party's platform. "I want to build a bigger society," he said: "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."

Cameron also spoke of learning about his ancestors, the Levitas, as a personal highlight. He said: "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." Messages from Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg will be published in the Movement's newsletter in the coming fortnight.

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