Israeli right-wing NGO Regavim on Monday joined the debate on whether or not the UK should leave the European Union releasing a new video supporting what is known as “Brexit” given the EU’s aid to Palestinians.
Regavim, a legal watchdog organization that advocates for accountable use of Israel’s national land, launched a website titled “Support Israel – Leave Europe,” and released a video featuring a fake Hamas press conference in which masked terrorists talk about how helpful the EU has been to them.
“The UK must stay in the EU,” they say. “The Zionist-controlled media will tell you it’s a waste of money… They’re wrong; it’s worth every penny.”
The faux-Hamas spokesman hailed the EU for constructing buildings for Palestinians in Area C.
“They tell the Zionists not to build, then they build little European colonies on that very land… No permits, no planning permission, totally illegal according to international law, and they even fly EU flags on those buildings as an extra FU – I mean EU to the Zionists,” he says.
The masked man also praises the EU policy of labeling products from the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights, saying they’re “labeling Jew products to encourage the boycott of the Zionist entity” and compare it to the Nazi boycott of Jewish products.
In addition, he says EU aid money to the Palestinians goes to Hamas’s terror tunnels and supporting terrorists in prison.
“Every day that you stayed, we continue to get paid,” the fake Hamas man declares in the video.
A spokesman for Regavim said the organization teamed up with British expats living in Israel, whom he said wish to remain anonymous, to try to encourage pro-Israel Britons to vote to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum.
The campaign website focuses on the arguments brought up by the Hamas impersonators in the video, as well as the EU’s funding for “international organizations and Israeli puppet groups that pursue anti-Israel agendas… defaming and framing Israeli soldiers [and] funding and supporting the boycott and lawfare movements.”
Regavim International Director Ari Briggs called the campaign “payback” for the EU “meddl[ing] in Israeli affairs to the detriment of the Jewish State.”
“The double standard in which the EU holds Israel is nothing short of state-sponsored anti-Semitism,” Briggs added.
British expats who were on the electoral register in the last 15 years may vote in the referendum, but must register online by June 7 to be eligible.
UK citizens in Israel were split in their views on the “Brexit” vote.
Arieh Kovler, who works in Israel advocacy and UK-Israel relations, thinks most Brits in Israel support his pro-EU view.
“From an Israeli point of view, the EU is our biggest trade partner, and the UK leaving would probably screw up the EU’s economy and have a bad effect on us, as far as export abilities are concerned. It would make Israel poorer,” he argued.
Kovler also called the UK a “stabilizing element” as far as the EU’s relations with Israel are concerned.
“Take the UK out of the EU, and what’s left of the EU is still pretty big, and overall more hostile to Israel,” Kovler stated. “The UK is one of the more supportive countries [of Israel] in Europe.”
Sophie Sacofsky of Givat Shmuel, a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University, said living in Israel had no influence on her choice to vote “stay.”
She opposes a “Brexit” for reasons related to security and economics.
“England has to be in the EU for there to be a strong Europe, an ally to America that can deal with the problems in the world, like ISIS and issues with Russia. The main economic problem is that the pound will get weaker, which obviously isn’t good.”
Jonathan Javor, a political adviser who worked most recently for Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, said that while he’s politically conservative, he still thinks the UK should not leave the EU, but should set conditions for staying.
“The EU has been ridden with problems, and when one country has problems the stronger countries have to pay for it,” he lamented. “I’m not enamored of the EU. Britain should renegotiate its contract, should say ‘yes, but.’”
Javor posited that Europe’s problems mean Britain should take more of a leadership role rather than abandon it.
“An isolationist policy doesn’t serve any purpose,” he said. “We have neighbors, and if we want to continue to be in partnership with them, we should work together… A pan-European alliance makes trade easier, moving between countries easier, sharing intelligence easier and forces people to work together.”
In response to the Regavim campaign, Javor maintained that Israel should be completely and utterly irrelevant to the decision whether or not to stay in the EU, calling it a completely domestic decision of what is good for Britain and the commonwealth.
“We all know the EU is very bad for Israel, but that doesn’t say whether it’s good or bad for Britain,” he said. “If Regavim says Britain should leave the EU over Israel, then that would mean the UK and US should leave the UN, and so should Israel. But we stay in the UN, because there’s a lot going on there that we should be involved in.”
David Gross, of Jerusalem, who works in real estate, agreed with Regavim’s position that the UK should leave the EU, but not the campaign.
“I think that when a foreign entity messes around in our politics it’s unfortunate and should be opposed,” he said, applying the same logic in this case.
As far as why the UK should leave, Gross lamented a “serious democratic deficit” in the EU.
“Britain is uniquely placed to do much better out than in. After the short-term payment, in the long term, the British economy could become far more agile and globally focused,” Gross said.
He also expressed concerns that Turkey may join the EU, saying: “If the British political establishment thinks it can get away with rapprochement with Turkey, it’s kidding itself.”
Gross said he sees the “Brexit” vote as having “very real consequences” for his life, despite not living in the UK, explaining that he visits often and still has family there. He said he did not vote in last week’s local elections, which had less of an impact on him.