Should Jews Back Brexit?

June 23 2016

Speaking in support of the UK’s continued presence in the European Union, on which a referendum is being held today, Prime Minister David Cameron recently argued that without Britain the EU will move in an even more anti-Israel direction, and Jews should therefore vote against “Brexit.” Jonathan Neumann responds:

Is Israel better off with Britain remaining inside the EU? The question might better be asked as follows: would it be better for Jews as a whole? Chief among the issues the EU will surely take up of keen interest to the continuance of Jewry in Europe are the possibility of future restrictions by the EU on kosher ritual slaughter and circumcision as well as the flows of migrants into Europe, some of whom have already targeted Jewish businesses.

The prime minister is probably right that Britain may be able to play a role tempering the EU’s negative diplomatic stance toward Israel from within, and might be a voice against rules that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Jews to live in Europe. Indeed, if the EU’s current policies toward the Jewish state are the outcome of Britain’s positive influence, one dreads to think what the EU might do were Britain to leave. But the primary concern of Britain’s Jews will not be this issue but rather the general set of concerns Jews share with their fellow Britons over the economy, immigration, and sovereignty.

Read more at Commentary

More about: British Jewry, David Cameron, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, United Kingdom


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy