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First Assembly Jewish manifesto to be welcomed

Published 22/02/2016

The launch of the first-ever Jewish manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly is a momentous and very welcome occasion. Belfast's vibrant and diverse Jewish community has summarised its aspirations into Ten Commitments and is calling upon candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections to show support for them.

Of particular note is the acknowledgement of the role Northern Ireland's Jewish community plays in the promotion of good community relations and the fight against all forms of prejudice and intolerance.

It is incumbent upon all those seeking election to the Assembly to join the fight against anti-Semitism and to use their positions to help eradicate anti-Jewish hatred from our society.

Support for the celebration of Jewish culture, ensuring access to and provision of kosher foods and allowing flexibility to employment rules that accommodate the Sabbath and Jewish holidays are all very important.

Unlike the Board of Deputies manifesto for the Westminster elections, which covered the entire UK, this Northern Ireland manifesto doesn't seem to push any Israel advocacy. This is again a welcome sign.

The manifesto calls upon candidates to commit their support for a number of very progressive ideals where the Israel-Palestine conflict is concerned. It asks for candidates to engage in responsible discourse and carefully considered use of language when debating the conflict. There is a crucial point raised about inflammatory commentary and where this can potentially lead.

There is much we can all learn from engagement and debate in the pursuit of understanding the nuances and tackling the issues that underpin the continuation of conflict in Israel-Palestine.

Northern Ireland has much to offer in this area of peace-building and I look forward to working with those committed to peace in Israel-Palestine.

GARY SPEDDING

Belfast

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