President of the Board of Deputies and Chair of the JLC Council of Members, Vivian Wineman, reports on the recent meeting between Jewish community leaders and Prime Minister David Cameron.
The community has long sought access to the Prime Minister in order to be able to make its concerns and interests heard at the highest level. It is therefore very gratifying that thanks to the efforts of the Jewish Leadership Council we now have these meetings firmly established on an annual basis. The community was represented by leaders of many of its principal organisations enabling its general issues including the positive ones to be discussed and receive a sympathetic response.
After I made some introductory remarks, Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of our PaJeS Division, outlined our aspirations for the Jewish school sector and current challenges that it faces. Laura Marks, Senior Vice President of the Board, spoke about the Big Society and Steven Lewis, Chairman of Jewish Care, discussed the problems the Jewish community shares with the wider community in coping with growing numbers of elderly people. Steven argued firmly for implementation of Dilnott's recommendations. The Prime Minister repeated his respect for the community's commitment and achievements on behalf of the voluntary sector and noted Steven's concerns regarding future funding.
Adrian Cohen, Chair of the London Jewish Forum articulated the need to protect religious freedoms and ensure the continuation of faith based provision. Gerald Ronson discussed the continued security threat to the community as exemplified by the recent terrorist trials. On the Middle East, Mick Davis led with the issue of Iran and the need to strengthen sanctions against the country. He also asked the Prime Minister to proscribe the political as well as the military wing of Hizballah in the UK, and requested that he take a personal lead in lobbying for an EU wide ban. This subject was made more pressing as a consequence of the subsequent announcement by the Bulgarian government.
The meeting was conducted in a friendly yet business-like manner. The PM was very much on top of his brief. Undoubtedly encounters such as these serve to make our positions better understood at the highest levels of government.