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Seder night hosted by founding members of Hastings Jews for Justice in April 2024 (photo: HJFJ).

New Jewish group calls for pledges from Parliamentary candidates

Hastings Jews for Justice, a new Jewish group launched to give voice to those in the community who do not currently feel heard or respected by mainstream political parties or the media, are calling on local parliamentary candidates to adopt five pledges. Nick Terdre reports.

“Hastings Jews for Justice (HJFJ) is a broad coalition of Jews and those of Jewish heritage who stand against the ongoing genocide, occupation and apartheid in Palestine and the continued violations of international law by the Israeli government,” a spokesperson for the group told HOT.

Their first action has been to pen an open letter to the prospective Parliamentary candidates for the two constituencies in the area – Hastings & Rye and Bexhill & Battle – setting out five pledges which they invite the candidates to agree to, in the interests of “respect and community harmony.”

These pledges include:

  • recognising that Jewish people hold a range of views on key issues which need to be respected
  • consulting with a range of Jewish community groups holding different opinions on the occupation in Israel/Palestine
  • calling out and fighting all instances of racism – including antisemitism and Islamophobia
  • refraining from exploiting antisemitism
  • and committing to measured and factual discussion about Israel/Palestine.

The letter, signed by 23 so far, states that “committing to a fair, just and respectful code of conduct is itself a good step towards contributing positively to our community, laying the foundations for trust and confidence in our political leadership.”

The HJFJ spokesperson added: “Too often, our existence as Jews of conscience is erased or marginalised by mainstream political discourse.

“Even as we see increasingly large numbers in the Jewish bloc at national ceasefire marches, and we take local action against the continued slaughter in Gaza, we hear misleading and divisive rhetoric, claiming these actions are rife with antisemitism and hatred.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. This sort of speech has real consequences and we are seeing that translate into violence on our streets.

“We stand against the exploitation of Jewish fears to score political points and reject the notion that Jewish safety can only be guaranteed through oppression and violence.

“We call on all local candidates in this election to heed the calls of Jewish voters to respect international law and the sanctity of human life. We invite them now to commit to our five pledges and invite further signatories to back our call.”

Dr Felicity Laurence, guest music educator for the Israeli-Palestinian peace project The Villages Group, said: “I am grateful for the chance to stand with many others in our Jewish community here in calling both for a desperately-needed calming of the debates around Israel, Palestine and in particular what is happening in Gaza, and for a commitment from all of our  Parliamentary candidates to hold to the ideal of justice within and beyond our own community.

“We are urging them to listen to the views of all of us in the Jewish community within this and all electorates, and to recognise that those of us who take a view divergent with that of their own party nevertheless deserve to be heard, and respected.”

The open letter can be viewed here and signed by anyone who fulfils the criteria for membership.

Member of Hastings Jews for Justice at a recent Ceasefire Now march (photo: HJFJ).


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Posted 15:01 Friday, Jun 7, 2024 In: Politics

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