In, Out, Shake it all about...

I am not normally one to get terribly political on social media. I want people to use their democratic rights, but other than rejecting outright racist parties, I wouldn't dream of suggesting the best way to vote. 
I was at a meeting this morning where several Rabbis and Educators come together a few times a year to explore the Jewish values and ethics that underpin the work of a particular charity. It is an incredible space to learn in. Our theme today was the Refugee crisis, and of course the impending Brexit/Bremain vote became a part of our conversations. One of my respected colleagues made the point that the human impact of this decision is so huge, he doesn't feel able to remain silent and just quietly vote 'remain' himself - he needs to explain why this is so important.
To be honest, I understand arguments on both sides of the debate. Our public services are under pressure, and immigration impacts that. But voting out will not solve the issues of immigration, and will in fact create more as my friends German wife and my colleagues Polish nanny who have been here say 15 or more years, wait to find out what processes they will have to undergo to remain with their families and friends and in their homes if we vote to leave. UKIP have used images of fleeing refugees to stir up the immigration debate, despite the fact that while 1 in every 131 people in the world is now a refugee, Britain has taken in a tiny number, and has pledged to welcome 20,000 from Syria before 2020 - 5,000 a year, and 3,000 refugee children (10,000 were rescued in the Kindertransport that many used to argue for this welcome). On the other hand we have around 70,000 children in care waiting to find homes and stability (coramBAAF). How do we make sure we look after one another, as well as making space in our small home for more? 
The economic arguments have been made both ways, and both sides seem to be offering lies and fear. It does seem certain that leaving would create huge instability in the first instance. Who knows what the long term effects will be. I am not an economist and should probably have written less than I have on the matter! I tend to think that being interconnected and working together is a good thing. Economically this can lead to problems, but it also leads to opportunity and mutuality.
The piece that has felt most helpful in making a choice tomorrow was a simple meme I saw in the barrage of videos and posters on Facebook:
I think this is a fabulous summary of how we should think about decision making in general. Is it about what I can gain, or about what I can give? Is it about what we will benefit from, or about what we want to do to ensure a better future for all?  There are enough resources in the world, if we just thought about how we use them differently (and I love the metro ad that made that point today). There is enough hope and love, if we were just allowed to give and receive it. We often feel impotent and unable to do anything about the huge humanitarian crises around the world and closer to home. Yet it seems that remain will fight best for human relationships, human rights, protection of one another, and a sense that we are not willing to turn our backs on EU members living with us here, British citizens living around the EU, and impoverished refugees who UKIP have heartlessly used to suggest we are being flooded by immigrants. If we want to help with this huge crisis, and be part of the solution and not another closed door (as for example Switzerland and Sweden were to Jews during World War Two) we need to work in partnership with those really bearing the brunt of refugee and economic migration. Of course we also need to look after our own, and if we did this better we would have less fear and stress about the same immigrants and refugees, and about where money goes or is received from. We need to look after one another at home and abroad. Closing doors doesn't seem like a good way to do that.
I suspect most people reading this will have already made their minds up about their vote tomorrow. They will either be throwing rebuttals at my writing or nodding vociferously, and for the record, I won't be engaging in an online debate so ultimately I probably shouldn't have bothered shaking the political stick. But when it is a stick bound up with human rights and mutuality, it is hard to stay quiet. I will be voting remain. 


  1. Debbie Young-Somers, I was a spiritual refugee, if I may use this language. You took me in with kindness and gave me opportunities to grow. Also, since the very first moment, you triggered in me a process of awareness about the reasons why I was being and behaving like a refugee. It took me four years and the warmth and openness yet "no-excuses" principles of the community, to return to Italy, where it all started. My here is now very challenging, but wonderful, and I am very grateful for what I have learned. I hope to be able to contribute to a society where give and take be flowing and reciprocal, despite the differences.


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