After the Referendum: A statement by Masorti Judaism’s senior rabbi, Jonathan Wittenberg
Following the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, our country faces an uncertain and testing time. Whichever way we voted, none of us wants to see Britain’s long and remarkable democratic process stall or witness the decline of our country. None of us want to see the far right gain power either here or anywhere in Europe. We all share prayers for the wellbeing of our state.
This is therefore a time to strengthen our commitment to honest discussion, truthful debate and the creation of an integrated and just society free from hatred and xenophobia.
It is not a moment to fall silent or take a step back, but to affirm our values and commitments. We should not stand idly by when any group or individual is targeted by racist rhetoric or violence. We should come to their support, and be seen to do so. We should not countenance a culture of disrespect for experts, intellectuals and those who endeavour to exercise leadership in any sphere with honesty and integrity. We should beware of implicitly condoning dishonesty or racism in any leaders or media figures, with platitudes such as ‘it’s not against us’ or ‘they don’t really mean it’. We should speak warmly to those in the community around us who may feel rejected, those who were born here, have lived here for a decade, were invited to work in this country, and who now experience their status as insecure and feel they have been told they are not wanted.
We should work across our communities to strengthen our relationships with our neighbours of all faiths or none. We should be attentive to those who don’t have privileges and opportunities we take for granted, be concerned about the many parts of the country which have suffered economic neglect, and engage actively for a more just, compassionate and inclusive society.
If we have family or friends who voted differently from ourselves and with whom we now find ourselves struggling to communicate, we should try to listen to one another and affirm the common values we still share.
We should respect the process of reasoned debate and the plurality of views.
May God guide us, our country and Europe at this difficult time.