Brexit's Big Lie: That Voting 'Leave' Is Bad for Israel

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Former London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks during a 'Vote Leave' rally in Selby, Britain, June 22, 2016.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks during a 'Vote Leave' rally in Selby, Britain, June 22, 2016.Credit: Ed Sykes, Reuters

Of all the lies being told by the opponents of an independent Britain, the most offensive is U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion that a British exit from the European Union would somehow be bad for Israel.

He told that whopper in a speech Monday to a Jewish charity in London. He was speaking as the Financial Times was readying its latest poll tracker showing the referendum today on independence from Europe had become too close to call.

“When Europe is discussing its attitude to 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?” Cameron said.

Think about that for a moment (and leave aside the question of whether Britain is really Israel’s greatest friend). If Europe is so hostile to Israel as Cameron insists it is, why would any friend of the Jewish state want to be part of the EU in the first place?

The more logical argument would be the opposite of what Cameron is claiming. The long transmogrification of the old European anti-Semitism into hostility to Zionism argues for friends of Israel to get out of the EU.

No doubt there are serious figures who disagree. The New York Times’ Roger Cohen wrote a column the other day about his uncle Bert, who as an officer of the 6th South African Armored Division in World War II battled his way north through Italy.

Bert marked the Allied Victory by carving his name into the Fuhrer’s table at Hitler’s mountain retreat, the Eagle’s Nest. Roger called it “sweet retribution to have ‘Cohen’ inscribed there.”

Yet the EU has long since betrayed our hopes that it would be the institution to keep the demons of Europe at bay. Even while Israel is technically an “associated state” with Europe, the EU has been underwriting anti-Zionism.

For years now litigation has been festering over the EU’s funding of non-governmental organizations hostile to Israel. The EU’s funding of them is secret and underwrites harrying the government in Jerusalem at every turn.

A number of European states are operating against Israel openly in the peace process. In 2014, Sweden announced it was abandoning the negotiating process and recognizing an independent state of Palestine.

Then there is the acid test — the articles of appeasement with Iran. All too little focus is given to the fact that one of the parties to that deal, struck over the protests of both Israel’s government and its opposition, was the European Union itself.

How does Mr. Cameron’s vow to protect Israel within the EU square with the fact that his own government was complicit — a signatory to — the Iran deal itself? He gives a new definition to the word chutzpah.

It cannot be a coincidence that the emerging leader of the cause of an independent Britain is, in Boris Johnson, one of Britain’s most pro-Israel politicians. Last year, Johnson was forced to cut short a visit to the Palestinian Authority over his support of Israel.

What is really at issue in tomorrow’s vote is the future of a certain conception of freedom, one of whose headwaters is the Scottish and English enlightenments that articulated the link between liberty and property.

And warned of the dangers of the state itself. The option for Britain at this junction is to vote for its own independence and to pursue and strengthen its special relationship with America and its own commonwealth.

There is every reason to fold into that bloc such rising countries as India, Free China, Free Korea, and Israel. It’s those principles of liberty that have given rise to the glory of what has come to be called the startup nation.

The miracle of Israel’s own rebirth, after all, began with a movement arising in Europe to free the Jews of Europe. One way to put it would be that long before the birth of the EU, the founders of modern Zionism launched a Brexit of their own.

Call it Zexit. What an irony that a prime minister of Britain against whom the Jews finally revolted in Palestine is trying to convince the Jews of Britain that their best remaining protection on the continent is Britain giving up the independence the Jews themselves now enjoy in Zion.

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