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Will Brexit Help the Palestinian Cause in the EU?

By       Message Ramzy Baroud       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Reprinted from Palestine Chronicle


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After months of anticipation, the United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union (EU). Although, the results were fairly close -- 51.9% voted to "Leave" vs. 48.1% elected to "Remain" -- the consequences of the decision will be far-reaching. Not only will the Brits negotiate their exit from the EU (thus, the term "Brexit") within the next two years, but the decision is likely to usher in an upheaval unwitnessed before in EU history.

But is it good for Palestine?

In the shadow of the so-called Brexit debate, a whole different discussion has been taking place: "is Brexit good for Israel," or as an Israeli commentator, Carlo Strenger phrased it in the Israeli daily, Haaretz: "what does (Brexit) mean for the Jews?"

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In a last-minute pandering for votes, British Prime Minister, David Cameron -- who, to his credit, had the dignity to resign after the vote -- made a passionate appeal before a Jewish audience on Monday, June 20. He told the Israel supporters in the Charity, "Jewish Care," that staying in the EU is actually good for Israel.

He presented his country as if the safeguard of Israeli interests at the Union. The gist of his message was: Britain has kept a watchful eye on Brussels and has thwarted any discussion that may be seen as hostile towards the Jewish state.

"When Europe is discussing its attitude towards Israel, do you want Britain -- Israel's greatest friend -- in there opposing boycotts, opposing the campaign for divestment and sanctions, or do you want us outside the room, powerless to affect the discussion that takes place?" he told the largely Jewish audience.

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Predictably, Cameron brought Iran into his reasoning, vowing that, if Britain remained in the EU, his country would be in a stronger position to "stop Iran (from) getting nuclear weapons."

While the "Leave" campaign was strongly censured for unethically using fear-mongering to dissuade voters, Cameron's comments before "Jewish Care" -- which were an extreme and barefaced example of fear-mongering and manipulation of Israel's so-called "existentialist threats" -- received little coverage in the media.

Indeed, Britain has played that dreadful role for decades, muting any serious discussion on Israel and Palestine, and ensuring more courageous voices like that of Sweden, for example, are offset with the ardently and unconditionally pro-Israel sentiment constantly radiating from Westminster. Who can forget Cameron's impassionate defense of Israel's last war on Gaza on 2014, which killed over 2,200 mostly Palestinian civilians?

Unequivocally, Cameron, along with his Conservative Party, has been a "staunch ally of (Israeli) Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu," as described by Israeli commentator Raphael Ahren, writing in the "Times of Israel." His love for Israel can also be more appreciated when compared to, also according to Ahren, "current head of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn -- who is a harsh critic of Israel and has called Israel's arch-foes Hamas and Hezbollah 'our friends.'"

Since Corbyn was elected to the helm of the Labor Party with a landslide victory in September of last year, an apparently manufactured controversy alleging rampant anti-Semitism within Labor has taken away from the party's attempt to refocus its energies on challenging the Conservative's neoliberal policies, and slowing down the momentum of the ultra-right Independence Party of Nigel Farage.

That contrived "crisis" was largely the work of the Israel lobby in the UK, per the assessment of investigative journalist, Asa Winstanley. It was a "witch-hunt" that reached an unprecedented degree of incongruity. "It has reached such an absurd volume that any usage of the word 'Zionist' is deemed to be anti-Semitic," he wrote, "although, tellingly, not when used by self-described Zionists."

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Indeed, many members of Labor were either themselves involved in that "witch-hunt" or succumbed to its pressure, taking outrageous steps to defend against the unwarranted accusations. As a result, the embattled and disorganized Labor, too, urged its supporters to stay in the EU and they, too, lost the vote.

As for Israel, Brexit meant uncertainty and also opportunity.

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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