A Jewish voice for Brexit

We’ve had enough of being talked down to and humiliated by the bureaucrats of Brussels,” declares Nigel Farage to rapturous cheers from the Brexit Party crowd. “It’s time we stood up for ourselves.”

YOSEF DAVID, the Brexit Party’s Jewish candidate.  (photo credit: Courtesy)
YOSEF DAVID, the Brexit Party’s Jewish candidate.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘We’ve had enough of being talked down to and humiliated by the bureaucrats of Brussels,” declares Nigel Farage to rapturous cheers from the Brexit Party crowd. “It’s time we stood up for ourselves.”
The atmosphere at the overflowing Westminster rally is electric, with the crowd hanging on Farage’s every word.
This is the run-up to general elections that were brought about by three years of post-referendum deadlock. A sound Tory win in December will grant Boris Johnson the mandate to set Brexit in motion, leave the EU and turn Farage’s vision of an independent Britain into a living reality.
“When UKIP [UK Independence Party] was founded in 1993, Brexit was a crankish obsession,” commented Politico in 2016. “Without Nigel Farage, there would have been no referendum in the first place.”
It was Farage, then UKIP leader, who put immigration and Britain’s national identity at the top of the news agenda. It was his relentless exposure of Brussels’s bureaucracy that transformed public opinion and brought the historic 2016 referendum about.
“Mr Farage’s motivation remains to oversee a clean, clear and lasting break from the European Union,” says Brexit Party spokesperson. “He is a democrat who believes wholeheartedly that as a nation, the UK is and should be a democracy. Our membership undermines this.”
In May 2019, less than six weeks after launching, Farage’s Brexit Party secured an astonishing win of the European elections, boasting more votes than the Labour and Conservatives Parties combined. Over 110,000 supporters have joined the party ranks over the past two months alone, all desperate for the biggest democratic mandate in British history to be respected and for the voices of the 17.4 million Leavers to be heard.
DELIVERING ON his word that he will “always put the good of the country” before party or self-interest, Farage last week announced that the Brexit Party will not stand in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017, and will focus instead on contesting seats held by Labour. In keeping with Farage’s brazen, against-the-grain spirit, the Brexit Party has chosen a kippa-wearing Orthodox Jew to contest the Labour Party leader’s seat. Golders Green-raised Yosef David will be standing in Islington North to directly take on opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, a man whose name has now become synonymous with antisemitism.
“Just my standing there as an Orthodox Jew in itself makes a statement,” David told the Magazine. “I stand in the name of pluralism and against antisemitism. I realize that my standing is much bigger than I am and I know that the Jewish community is watching.”
The election campaign will focus on local matters, but the issue of antisemitism is sure to raise its unsightly head.
“Corbyn has always been a far-Left voice in the house,” said David. “He is about challenging those with power and there seems to be this assumption that Jews have power and therefore we are not to be treated with the same sensitivity as other minority groups. I think Corbyn is anti-Israel. He has picked a side and failed to react to this tsunami of antisemitism in his party. The fact that he is so vehemently anti-Israel has added to the antisemitism, because in this country there is a connection between Israel and the Jewish people.”
David studied Talmudic law in Israel and Jewish history in the UK. He was working as a social worker for a Jewish charity in Hendon when he answered the Brexit Party’s call for candidates to come forward.
“The Brexit Party is about democracy,” explains David. “In this country, the people are used to having their votes respected, which hasn’t happened with the referendum and people are upset. It is not just Brexiteers; there are many who voted Remain who cannot believe that the biggest democratic expression in our history has been ignored.”
David is one of several Jewish voices within the Brexit Party, including the prominent Lance Forman, who runs a successful smoked salmon business. MEP for the Hendon constituency, outspoken Forman is a supporter of Israel and Jewish interests. With his wife, he is a patron of the One Family UK charitable organization, which helps rebuild the shattered lives of terror victims in Israel.
Forman’s son, Oliver Anisfeld is the CEO of Turning Point UK, the British offshoot of Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA. It was in fact Farage’s suggestion to Kirk that inspired the Turning Point UK branch.
FARAGE’S BREXIT Party and UKIP have come under attack over the years, due to anti-Jewish statements made by some of its members.
“The launch of the Brexit Party was mired by the discovery of comments by its treasurer Michael McGough claiming that some Jewish politicians have ‘shallow UK roots,’ but he swiftly resigned,” says the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s spokesperson, who added, “There have been other incidents, but we do not consider the Brexit Party to be antisemitic.”
In May 2019, the CAA stated that McGough, who previously left over the controversial social media posts, is still listed as a director of the organization.
“To portray Jews as being foreign to Britain or their home country is a common antisemitic trope. It has echoes of Jeremy Corbyn’s comment that Zionists don’t understand English irony.”
According to the CAA, a number of leaders within UKIP have made comments which promoted “antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish influence on international finance” but asserted that “generally UKIP has acted fast to expel antisemites. The CAA remains troubled by claims made by Farage in 2017 about a ‘Jewish Lobby’ in hock to Israel subverting American politics, and by his failure to apologize for those comments.”
Farage later attempted to end the controversy over the remarks he originally made on LBC, where he told listeners that he believes that American Jews exert disproportionate political power and even appeared to agree with a claim that they have financial control over American politics.
After Campaign Against Antisemitism made a formal complaint to broadcasting regulator Ofcom, Farage stated that a “Jewish lobby” did not wield influence over the outcome of last year’s presidential election, and told an LBC caller that he rejected claims that his original remarks were antisemitic, stating that “the Jewish lobby in America is organized and powerful, but not for one moment do I think that they tried to influence the election, I think it’s ridiculous.”
While Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomed Farage’s statement that he does not believe that Jews “used their influence to determine the outcome of the election,” the CAA remains concerned that “he is clearly convinced that there is a ‘Jewish lobby’ which is ‘organized and powerful,’ again conflating the political lobby for Israel with Jews in general.”
Farage has also come under fire for his appearances on the US Alex Jones show, where he discussed conspiracy theories.
“Just because you appear on a program does not mean you support the editorial line,” responded Farage” at a recent Brexit Party press conference.
“Many accusations of racism and extremism were thrown at us, but I strongly maintain they were untrue,” said Farage in December 2018, as he announced his resignation from UKIP in protest over new leader Gerard Batten bringing Tommy Robinson into the party.
“Under my leadership of the UKIP,” concluded Farage, “the party banned former members of the BNP and EDL from joining.”
The writer is a London-based journalist and award-winning filmmaker with credits including The Guardian, The Independent and BBC1.