The UK Jewish Community has had an historically out-sized influence on many aspects of British life. Their influence has been felt in Philanthropy, Science, Medicine, the Arts, Economic life, Social Welfare and Politics. The experience of this community of around 260,000 people mirrors the experiences of many other Western Jewish communities, and nonetheless in voting patterns.
Western Jews have historically voted liberal left-of-centre – Labor in the UK and Australia, Democrat in the US. As refugees with a profound sense of Jewish values understanding and supporting the underclass, voting for the Left has been the status quo.
With voting support comes financial support. And while the Jewish communities have successfully integrated into the states of the West, that financial support for political parties has been transparent and significant.
But in recent years, that status quo is no longer existent with a large shift to the Right. And for the first time in UK history, the Jews of Britain have overwhelmingly voted Conservative.
The central reason is Ed Milliband’s unilateral stances on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and a clear move of position away from Israel toward unilateral declaration of a future Palestinian state. For a community living under threat of increased anti-semitism, mirroring Israel’s increasing threat from terrorism, British Jews are very, very sensitive to movements in foreign policy. Unilateralism has proven to be a dead-end in the Middle East, and Ed Milliband’s distancing from the Jewish community has paid a heavy price, as Labor Shadow Cabinet member Michael Dugher MP argues.
He says the price paid was not only unnecessary, and policy on Israel should be consciously reversed. He argues that a generally supportive and influential constituency should be not be cast aside for political pursuits that are disadvantageous to Labor. The lessons for the ALP cannot be be more relevant.