by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2004-06-11
As London went to the ballot box on June 10 to vote for a new mayor for the capital, SomethingJewish invited all the candidates to respond to a series of questions about where they stand on general as well as specific issues. Find out what Respect candidate Lindsey German said.
1. Why should Jewish Londoners vote for you?
Because I stand for a platform which is against racism and discrimination in all its forms and which wants to promote equality. One of the greatest strnegths of London is its diversity and Jews have made a major contribution to London culture and life. I also stand for a programme which would benefit most Londoners, regardless of ethnicity and so would help to reduce racism and discrimination: cheaper and better public transport, more low cost
housing to solve the housing shortage, and more staff in public places to reduce crime and insecurity. I am in favour of the ending the occupation of Iraq and opposed the war at every stage. The money spent on that should go into improving people's lives.
2. How have you worked with Jewish Londoners (either personally or professionally)?
I have worked with many Jewish Londoners all my life and have a number of Jewish colleagues and friends. My political development was very influenced by Tony Cliff and Chanie Rosenberg, two Jews from Palestine who migrated to Britain at the end of the Second World War.
3. What do you understand about Jewish life and culture and the contribution Jews have made to London life?
Jewish people have been involved in London life and culture for many years and have benefited London greatly. They have transmitted an extremely vibrant political culture through the years. As a socialist i appreciate the contribution of those from Karl Marx onwards through the camapigns of the late 19th century and early 20th century to great events like the battle of Cable St which stopped Oswlad Mosley's fascists from marching in the East End in 1936. Jews have made many other contributions to culture here including artistic, intellectual and other developments.
4. If elected mayor what would you do to help promote Jewish culture in London?
Every group should have the right to organise its own cultural and social events which should be fully supported by the mayor and should be a means of different groups understanding each other's culture better.
5. What will you do to help facilitate better relations between ethnic and religious groups in London.
There should be a culture against racism at every level. Children should be taught about different relgions and cultures at the earliest age and should be encouraged to support a range of different religious festivals and events. We should also educate people about immigration and what different cultures have brought to this country. All the experience is that immigration _ whether Jewish or any other _ enriches our society politically, economically, socially and culturally. Government ministers should stop scapegoating immigrants and asylum seekers, as should the press. There should be programmes of education on anti semitism historically and the importance of the Holocaust in history.
6. What is your position on the conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians and how do you think the situation can be resolved?
I am totally against the policies of Ariel Sharon's government as are I believe many Jewish people both in Israel and here. Israel was supposed to be a safe homeland for the Jews following the Holocaust but is one of the most dangerous places for Jews to live today. There has to be justice for the Palestinians because without justice there can be no peace.
There should be an end to the occupation and Jewish and Arab people should live together
on the basis of justice and equality for all. The Middle east was historically a very ethnically diverse area with peopel of different races and religions living together. I regret that this is less and less the case, which benefits no one.
7. There are calls by some to ban the practice of ritual slaughter of animals used for food. This practice is paramount to both the Jewish and Muslim faiths, what is your position on ritual slaughter of animals for food and do you support those who think it should be banned or those who do not want it banned.
I am very much against a ban on ritual slaughter of Kosher or Halal meat. As you say, these practices are very important to their respective religions and should be respected. I oppose any attempt to ban them and reject the racists who use these issues for their own ends.
8. What steps will you take to ensure that the rising tide of anti-Semitism is curbed?
I have always opposed anti semitism and it has to be publicly condemned.
We have seen recently the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and other attacks which are both abhorrent in their own right and which show that we have to be vigilant about anti semitism at all times. The BNP like all fascists remains deeply anti semitic and has to be opposed. We should not allow the fascists a platform to disseminate their racism.
9. Name some Jewish people you admire and respect and tell us why?
In no particular order: Karl Marx, Eleanor Marx (who was always proud to decribe herself as a Jew), Michael Rosen, Harold Pinter, Mordechai Vanunu, Claudia Roden, Sigmund Freud, Anne Frank, Primo Levi, Albert Einstein. Because they have all made outstanding contributions in different ways.
10. What is your favourite Jewish food and why?
Potato latkes because I love all potato cakes but they are some of the best - even better than my Irish granny's potato bread.