For much time, I, like many Britons, have been weighing up whether I thought the UK had a future in the European Union (EU) and how I was going to vote in a referendum when one inevitably will be held. My personal opinions have largely followed the wider general pattern swinging from sceptic to phile and now solidly sceptic once more. Yet, my decision to vote for the UK to leave the EU will not be based on economics, immigration or sovereignty now, but my realisation earlier this week that the EU no longer represented my values as a human being.
There was so much to write about of late but the decision by the highest EU court to strike down the status of Hamas as a terrorist organisation led to me being lost for words. Never have I been so awe struck and angry. The fact the decision was a technicality means little to me, particularly as in three months time the tax I pay, as well as Jewish taxpayer’s money, will be going into the pockets of an anti-Semitic and violent organisation, which aims to eradicate Israel and the Jews from the region and is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The fact there is even a possibility I may be funding this terrorist organisation come 2015 via the EU means I cannot reason with myself to ever vote to stay in such a political entity.
Perhaps I should have seen sooner how the EU’s stance on Israel and Europe’s Jewish population is making it impossible for me to want the UK to stay within it. The EU has shown itself in 2014 to be failing European Jewry and this has transcended itself into policy towards Israel where terror has been rewarded every step of the way, peaking in the decision to no longer recognise Hamas as a terror organisation.
The peaceful and tolerant Europe I thought I grew up in now has lifted the veil and shown it to be the monster it really is. The EU was designed to reduce the lines of conflict among European nations and lead to peaceful, cultural and economic prosperity. Yet, the burgeoning anti-Semitism and divisions emerging only goes to show how the EU was only holding down unstoppable forces that are now erupting in an explosive fashion.
It seems hyperbolic to lay the situation down as it really is. The swastika is flying through the air across the continent, Jews are being beaten and attacked on the streets and Jewish shops are being boycotted. This is the terrifying reality almost 70 years since the end of World War II.
Much of this is the EU’s own fault of course and reflects my concern about the direction Europe is travelling in. The European Parliament and unelected elites have turned a blind eye towards the drastic rise of extremism across the continent, naturally characterised by anti-Semitism, leaving it to flourish. The EU has done nothing to crack down on these political parties and organisations. From France to Sweden to Greece there are explicitly far right parties on the march who, having not been impeded by an authority designed to keep European peace, are gaining courage. On top of this, the EU is failing to do anything to kill the weed at its root by eradicating why people are swamping to an ideology we all hoped had been stamped out.
Such inaction contrasts against my values. The EU has failed to address its undemocratic nature, its loathed freedom of movement and the inept economic policies of the Eurozone. The principle of the EU was a fantastic idea and for so long it held Europe together. But as the organisational machine continues on its march for further integration it fails to realise the devastation left in its wake.
Evidence is everywhere for this. Just by reading a post by David Cameron wishing the UK’s vibrant Jewish population a Happy Hanukah, one can see the acidic environment towards Jews and Israel. I even had one lady tell me on twitter that European Jews were to blame for ISIS, Pakistan’s terror problems and issues in the Gulf states. For me, I am struggling to feel this is the nation I want it to be, and the UK is meant to be one of the more tolerant countries. Having travelled closer within Jewish circles, given my interest and activism in Israeli affairs and Zionism, and making numerous friends in doing so, the current situation concerns me. I cannot begin to understand how British Jews must feel reading such comments and feeling the poisonous atmosphere that exists.
Even more a kick in the teeth is that individual countries across the continent, who lest we forget are what makes up the European Parliament, are rewarding a summer of terror against Israelis and Jews by pushing through symbolic recognitions of a Palestine. Let me make myself clear, regardless of historic territory claims, from a purely pragmatic and existential point of view such a state will have to exist. But not now. Not after one of its governing parties, the most popular one at that launched indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel. Not after 80% of its population said they support terror attacks on Israeli citizens who live within Israel’s undisputed territory. Not when it fails every criterion for statehood.
All of these failings peaked when Hamas was declared no longer a terror organisation and the EU finally let Jews down beyond belief. The group that calls for the cleansing of Jews from the region, who just this week burnt effigies of Jews on an anniversary parade and terrorises Israelis and Palestinians alike should never be even considered anything but a terror organisation. The questions we have to ask are whether Al-Qaeda or ISIS would ever get let off on a technicality. We all know the real answer deep down.
The situation is only going to get worse. Economic strains and Euro scepticism are not abating and the EU is now playing a zero sum game with Israel, advocating an idealistic Israeli withdrawal from disputed territories with all the security implications for Israel this will bring. The EU not only abandons Jews in Europe but now it is abandoning the Jewish safe haven and homeland. This is not a Europe I want to live in. Shame on us.