LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday night that Israel needs Britain to remain in the European Union to help it fight BDS. Cameron, who was addressing a Jewish community event, was speaking three days before the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. He added that, as a member of the EU, Britain would have more power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and, in a campaign which has largely been dominated by the issue of immigration, praised British Jews as “a model of integration in modern Britain.”
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Cameron, who has been campaigning energetically for Britain to remain in the EU, made a quick visit last night to the annual fundraising dinner of the Jewish Care welfare organization, in central London. He asked the donors at the dinner: “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 effect the discussion that takes place?”
This was the first time Israel has been mentioned by the prime minister in context of the referendum. His view mirrors the unofficial one held by the government in Jerusalem, though the Israeli government is not publicly taking a position on the referendum.
Cameron also brought up the controversial poster presented last week by the one of the leaders of the “Leave” camp, UKIP party leader Nigel Farage, which showed hundreds of refugees fleeing Syria, under the slogan “Breaking Point.”
“When I look at that poster, which Nigel Farage stood in front of the for the leave campaign” he said, “I see the opposite of everything that makes our country great. I am proud that Britain is home to people who fled persecution including those who fled from the Nazis or Russian pogroms.”
Referring here to the Jews who found refuge in Britain, Cameron added that, “That is what is so amazing about our Jewish community. You are the model of how to integrate in modern Britain. And there is also something so special about modern Britain. We may not be perfect but we are one of the most successful multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracies anywhere on earth.”
Attacking those who say that Britain is weaker as a member of the EU, Cameron said that membership “enhances” Britain’s power on issues such as “fighting climate change, combatting terrorism, standing up to Russia, stopping Iran getting a nuclear weapon”.
Israeli ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev, was also at the event, though he didn’t address the audience. An Israeli official who attended the event said that, “Cameron is a true friend of Israel and of the Jewish community, as clearly reflected by his words last night. His steadfast friendship over the years has further strengthened the partnership between our democracies”.
The Israeli government has decided not to take a public position on the referendum, but senior officials in Jerusalem have made it clear in recent weeks that Israel is in favor of Britain remaining in the EU, so it can help safeguard Israel’s interests in Europe and also since Britain’s possible departure from the Union, would be a boost to racist and extremist parties throughout the continent.
In contrast, Regavim – a right wing, pro-settlement organization that is partially funded by local authorities in Israel – is campaigning in support of Brexit, urging Britons to vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union as payback for the EU’s support for the Palestinians.