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 on where they stand on general as well as specific issues. Find out what Green candidate Darren Johnson said.
1. Why should Jewish Londoners vote for you?
Jewish Londoners should vote for me as Mayor of London because I recognise the invaluable cultural and economic contribution that the Jewish community has â over the centuries â given and continues to offer for the future to our vibrant and diverse capital city.
2. How have you worked with Jewish Londoners (either personally or professionally)?
The Green Party has a high percentage of Jewish members, some of whom hold prominent positions within the organisation and it is a pleasure to celebrate the partyâs diversity, as we work together towards a common humanitarian goal.
3. What do you understand about Jewish life and culture and the contribution Jews have made to London life?
I understand that Jewish life is very family orientated with a desire for high moral and educational standards and I have often seen the community celebrate its ancient cultural traditions that, coupled with its strong work ethic, has made a strong contribution to the fabric of the society of London.
4. If elected mayor what would you do to help promote Jewish culture in London?
The Green Party is a strong proponent of the theory that diversity enriches all societies. In view of this one of the initiatives that I will be pushing for is a Museum of Immigration. It would be set up in order to highlight the cultural contributions that all the diverse ethnic migrant communities have brought to London over the centuries. This would be of enormous benefit for the promotion and better understanding of the Jewish culture, which greatly contributes to London life.
5. What will you do to help facilitate better relations between ethnic and religious groups in London.
Education is the key to better understanding and this is essential for better relations. We therefore encourage â and will continue to encourage â the leaders of all faiths to be call upon their congregants to be more tolerant of the differences between religions and celebrate the many common grounds that they share
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?
The conflict in the Middle East is spiralling out of control, with atrocities being committed by both sides. This madness has to stop and, at the next round of talks, Israel must be strong and finally understand that land taken after the 1967 war must, as a fundamental basis be returned to the Palestinians, as demanded by the UN. This would initially allow the implementation of a dual state as a prelude to a hoped for eventual single Israeli/Palestinian state.
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.
The practice of the ritual slaughter of animals by Jews & Muslims dates back thousands of years. It was the most advanced and humane method of its time. Now, however, there are far more advanced, humane and less traumatic methods available today. We must all move with the times and, in order to illustrate that we are a truly civilised society, must display the highest regard for the welfare of all animals.
8. What steps will you take to ensure that the rising tide of anti-Semitism is curbed?
We do not tolerate any form of racism. By that token, we will have no truck with the likes
of the BNP and we seek to expose any individuals or groups who entertain their neo-Nazi attitudes and beliefs. Nevertheless, it is ignorance that feeds the breeding ground for such thought (or lack of it) and which makes violence and hatred so attractive. A good society should embrace and educate all of its members to understand the benefits of diversity within their communities and not allow them to become disillusioned and disenfranchised.
9. Name some Jewish people you admire and respect and tell us why?
Green Party Principal speaker, Mike Woodin, who is such an inspiration to so many of us in the Green movement and who is showing so much courage in his battle with cancer. Bob Dylan, who has written so poetically from the viewpoint of a Jew, having lived for over sixty years in the times that are so badly in need of a changing.
10. What is your favourite Jewish food and why?
Although not specifically Jewish, I particularly like falafel because I am a vegetarian and enjoy chickpeas, houmous and salads; cream cheese bagels for the mouth-watering flavours and textures, egg & spring onion mix which is such a tasty sandwich filling and latkes because they are a bit like hash browns, which I enjoy, but are vastly superior!