Post-Brexit, more British Jews reportedly requesting naturalization in Portugal


One of Portugal’s Jewish communities said it was observing an increase in requests for naturalization by British Jews following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union.

About 300 British Jews who are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews requested Portuguese nationality from the Porto Jewish Community, compared to five before the June 23 vote for a British exit, or Brexit, the community told the EFE news agency Monday.

The city’s Jewish community, which has a few dozen members, is the smaller of two congregations certified by the government to vet requests for citizenship under a law passed in 2013 that offers nationality to descendants of Sephardic Jews. Officials say the law corrects the historical wrong visited on Portugal’s Jews in the 16th century when they were expelled or forcibly converted to Christianity.

But the country’s larger and more established Jewish community of Lisbon, which has several hundred members, has not observed any increase in requests for citizenship by British nationals, according to Teresa Santos, the community official handling those requests.

She said the community has received 1,090 requests, including very few from British nationals.

“It may be that some Israeli Jews who also have British passports filed for citizenship based on their Israeli passports and we simply know they are British,” she said, “but we have seen no increase in requests from Britain.”

Only a handful of applications have been approved since the law was ratified last year.

The report in EFE followed several others based on anecdotal information about British Jews who are seeking a second EU passport in order to remain EU citizens if the kingdom leaves the bloc, where EU citizens may work and settle without applying for a visa.

Theresa May, UK’s incoming prime minister, seen as friend to Israel


British Conservative Party leader Theresa May, who is expected to succeed David Cameron as prime minister when he resigns Wednesday, is being welcomed as a longtime friend of Britain’s Jewish community and a strong advocate for Israel.

May, 59, was named party leader Monday following weeks of jockeying and political turmoil surrounding the decision by voters to leave the European Union and Cameron’s subsequent decision to step down.

As the country’s home secretary, May was known to be a frequent guest at Jewish communal events, where she would praise Israel and British Jewry’s contributions to the country. The Community Security Trust and other Jewish groups thanked May for securing significant government funding to protect Jewish institutions in the wake of terrorist attacks in Europe.

Supporters recalled Monday that following the terrorist murders in 2015 at a kosher supermarket in Paris, May carried a sign to a Board of Deputies of British Jews meeting reading “Je Suis Juif” (I am Jewish) in solidarity with its victims.

In 2011, May banned from Britain the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, for encouraging extremism.

May has also pledged to defend kosher slaughter, which is under attack in many parts of Europe on animal cruelty grounds.

“As Home Secretary for six years, Mrs. May is better placed than most of her Westminster colleagues to assess the threats facing British Jews,” Marcus Dysch, a columnist for the Jewish Chronicle, wrote Monday.

Ansel Pfeffer, writing in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper last week, noted that shortly after visiting Israel in 2014, May told the Conservative Friends of Israel that in the face of threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and Iran, Israel must “maintain a strong defense and security capability and be prepared to deploy it if necessary.”

At the same event, she also noted, “we must remember that there will be no lasting peace or justice in the region until the Palestinian people are able to enjoy full civil rights themselves.”

Eric Pickles, a member of Parliament and chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said Monday: “As a politician not known for hollow platitudes, Israel can rest assured that a UK led by Theresa May will be there in its moments of need.”

On Brexit


Should any country give its residents a chance to vote on how they feel things are going, probably a significant proportion would show their unease, unhappiness, and dissent to an even greater extent that did the Brits. Most never do and have never done so. In the past, the Brits have been notorious grumblers about everything, mostly about their rotten uncertain weather, a perpetual source of complaint. Since nobody controls the weather and can be blamed other than the weather forecasters, people grit their teeth and accustom themselves as best they can. Nobody gets harmed by the grumbling; it provides an outlet for frustration, inconvenience, and powerlessness. Disagreeable weather is hardly an excuse to leave home. In contrast, leaving Europe is quite a serious business not just for the Brits but for everybody else on the globe.

The insular Brits used to boast that they ruled the waves and that much of their empire colored maps red. They may feel more comfortable once more going alone than being a part of Europe not of their making. They were reluctant to join and now seem more reluctant to remain than stay subject to imposed restraints. They were one of only five founder members of the United Nations in which they have a privileged status in the Security Council and like any other member, the United Kingdom retains its sovereignty and independence irrespective, ignoring the UN’s disunity and feebleness as a governing body. Right now, the world’s attention is concentrated on the perils of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Even those who led the campaign to quit have a difficult time to justify their case to return to a splintered Europe that had brought about two disastrous world wars and might bring about an even worse third.

The idealism that once brought both the UN and EU into existence has almost disappeared in the contemporary global society. A great deal in human affairs is in mess that nobody predicted. Instead of a brave new world, it has not brought peace, security, prosperity, freedom and opportunity after all. Human nature has not acquired sweetness and light.  Yes, much has improved since 1945 but not everybody has benefitted. Progress has come at a heavy price And the pace of change has been relentless, perhaps exceeding the accustomed ability of humanity to adapt. The global problems get worse and more complicated Looking to the future, people are probably more frightened, worried, disturbed, and distrustful. Populism plays on all this and gets a good following. It has simple understandable solutions, mostly wrong and will make matters even worse. It goes after the vocal disaffected not the assumed silent majority and finds an eager gullible audience ready for different leadership. After all, the powers that be don’t seem to be all that keen to listen to dissent and their expert advisors appear to be too full of themselves to bother with common folk.

The powers that be take care to do well for themselves. And the populists who want to replace them will also make sure that they too will do even better for themselves. Power corrupts. The powerless are aware of this but hope that something might be done at last by those promising that they will curb injustice, secrecy, manipulation, corruption, exploitation, and maladministration and other blatant societal dysfunctions or at least provide well known safeguards before desperate protesters with little to lose take to the streets or resort to disruption to draw attention of policy makers and institutional reformers. Such protesters do not act out of ignorance or vengeance because daily they are the victims of such dysfunctions until they cannot stand systemic inhumanity. They raise issues of such complexity  that cannot be overcome overnight and need time, scarce resources, and changes in hearts and minds, although all that might satisfy is a simple change in law and law enforcement, or in representation , or in transparency, or in access to welfare and assistance.

The problem with experts is their assumed arrogance because of their superior knowledge and status. Even the best are human and make mistakes; they may not know enough or think too narrowly or exaggerate their competence. They may pose as being objective and impersonal but they can be as prejudiced, fixated, intolerant as the next person, protecting their own vested interests. They cannot avoid being who they are or limited within the circumstances. They have their own idiosyncrasies, emotions, and values. They are only human not gods. They may believe they are not partisan politically but by framing public policy or designing processes of execution they act politically bound to offend somebody or other likely to be affected. That is why it is better to have them on tap not on top. Blessed indeed is the society that can find the rare unassuming genius or the statesman who can rise to the occasion when needed and the government system that enables such leaders to overcome all the obstacles placed in their way. Even better may be the system that indicates they have overstayed their welcome.

Most living persons are unable to complain about alleged wrongdoing, harm, injustice, suffering, and mistreatment nor have anyone complain on their behalf. Their complaints are not investigated by any independent party. Many justifiable complaints have no form of redress or compensation. Many complaint offices have insufficient jurisdiction, finance, staffing, transparency, and follow up. Most complaints are unjustified and without merit. Only few reveal serious injury that calls for urgent remedial action for whole classes of ignored claimants. Almost all show the need for public education and explanation to improve communications, and also the fear by those in authority of being exposed to bad publicity. Every self-respecting responsible organization should have an ombudsman-like office to receive complaints about its performance.

Gerald E. Caiden, Emeritus Professor, Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, July 2, 2016.  

 Email: ncaiden3@gmail.com

In a post-Brexit Scotland, Jews warm up to a rising nationalist party


The last time that Scotland voted on whether to become independent from the United Kingdom, most of its 7,000 Jews thought doing so was a bad idea.

Worried that Scottish independence would encourage nationalism and embolden an already aggressive anti-Israel movement with deep roots in the pro-independence camp, Jews here were relieved when, during a 2014 referendum, 62 percent of Scottish voters supported remaining in the United Kingdom.

Less than two years after that supposedly definitive vote, Scotland and its Jews are preparing for yet another U.K. independence vote. This time around Scottish Jews may be more receptive to such a vote, thanks in part to anger over the June 23 Brexit referendum in which the U.K. voted to leave the European Union.

The head of Scotland’s government, Nicola Sturgeon, has called another U.K. independence vote “highly likely,” thanks to the Brexit results.

In contrast to English voters, who favored Brexit, most Scots voted to remain part of the E.U, and Scotland’s ruling Scottish National Party has said it would not allow Scots to lose their EU citizenship.

Many Scottish Jews are now more at ease with the idea of split from the U.K., due to vigorous trust-building actions by Sturgeon, who heads the ruling Scottish National Party, or SNP — an offshoot from Labour that is now Britain’s third-largest party.

“They have certainly engaged with the Jewish community very strongly,” Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, or ScoJeC, said of SNP, which Sturgeon came to lead in 2014.

Under Sturgeon’s predecessor, the former SNP party leader Alex Salmond, the city councils of Glasgow and Fife flew the Palestinian flag during Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza — a move many Jews interpreted as an act of solidarity with the terrorist group Hamas. At that year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a popular arts festival, two Israeli troupes canceled their performances in response to pro-Palestinian protests.

Citing police figures, ScoJeC reported a record 50 anti-Semitic incidents in 2014 in Scotland and an “unprecedented number of Jewish people who expressed anxiety about their perception of increased antisemitism in Scotland.” The rise in hostility cannot “be excused as merely political protest” against Israel, the group’s report said.

At the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation — a large Orthodox synagogue located at the foot of a range of green hills — the staple prayer for the safety of Israeli soldiers was dropped at least once that year so as not to offend non-Jews during the conflict.

“Discretion is the better part of valor,” Rabbi David Rose said at the time.

Salmond, who had called for applying sanctions against Israel, largely ignored pleas by Jewish community representatives to curb the vitriol, according to Howard Singerman, former treasurer of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council.

But Sturgeon, his successor, is taking action, according to Borowski. He cited her “extremely strong message” during a conference on hate crime co-organized last year by the Chief Constable and the head of Scotland’s prosecution service.

“I don’t want to be the first minister, or even live in a country, in which Jewish people feel that they want to leave or hide their identity,” she said then.

She also distanced the SNP from “the unsavory and horrible creeds that call themselves nationalism.” If you choose to live in Scotland, she said, “it doesn’t matter where you’re from; it’s not about identity but about everyone who lives here sharing the responsibility to make Scotland as good as it can be.”

Sturgeon told Borowski she wanted her ministers “seen engaging with the Jewish community, not merely making statements.” She met with Israelis in Scotland, and attended Jewish communal events and met with Jewish students concerned about vitriol on campus.

Under Sturgeon’s leadership, ScoJeC saw its budget increased twice, once by 28 percent and then again by 20 percent on top of that.

Last year, the Community Security Trust, or CST, British Jewry’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, criticized an SNP lawmaker in the Scottish parliament, Sandra White, for retweeting an anti-Semitic caricature. It featured a sow labeled “Rothchild” nursing piglets labeled as Islamist terrorist groups, the CIA and Israel. Sturgeon called the incident “abhorrent” and apologized for it, as did White.

“Clearly, the Scottish leadership have realized that the anti-Semitism issue is a litmus test of sorts for Scottish society and we are seeing serious efforts to address the community’s concerns,” said Mark Gardner, the Glasgow-born director of communications of CST.

Other European parties “could do far worse than follow their example,” Gardner said.

Ahead of SNP’s bid for a second independence vote, Sturgeon’s Jewish charm offensive puts her on better footing with Scottish Jews than Salmond ever enjoyed.

Frustration over the vote for a British exit is palpable on the streets of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, where 74 percent voted against leaving the EU. Many locals have hung Scottish and EU flags on the windows, and 52 percent of respondents to a Sunday Times poll said they would vote for independence from the U.K. following Brexit.

Many young Scots have taken to wearing a safety pin on their jackets – a gesture against the xenophobic rhetoric that the Brexit vote unleashed in England (but not in Scotland). Others placed placards reading “Everyone’s welcome” on windows overlooking Edinburgh’s narrow, cobbled and winding streets.

Edinburgh’s Rabbi Rose says members of his congregation are “taking out European passports” to make sure they remain EU citizens – an option open to many Scottish Jews because, unlike older U.K. Jewish communities, most of them are descended from Jews who left Eastern Europe from the 19th century onward. Some Jews in England are doing the same, The Independent reported.

At a breakfast at the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, Rose collects fees from about 12 congregants who’ve come for Sunday salmon, bagels and coffee. “This used to be worth a lot more last week,” he remarks with annoyance about the cup full of British pounds.

Following Brexit, the pound had its sharpest-ever two-day decline against the dollar, reaching $1.31 — a level not seen since 1985.

With the economy and political establishment in disarray, “Nicola Sturgeon is suddenly the only dependable figure for many Scottish Jews,” Howard Singerman of Glasgow remarked. A former Labour voter who has rejected that party over a series of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks by various Labour leaders, he said he is considering voting SNP for its strong social platform. He never would have done so under Salmond, he said.

Scotland’s major Jewish groups have taken a formal position neither on Brexit nor on independence. For Singerman and many other Jews who define themselves as proud Scots, independence would be going a step too far.

Some Scottish Jews, Borowski said, have an instinctive aversion to anything called or perceived as nationalist. Others simply think independence is either too costly or impractical. Many think their bid for separate EU membership would be blocked by members wary of their own separatist movements, including Spain, France, Belgium and Italy.

“As a Scottish Jew you can feel more trust toward Sturgeon,” said Evy Yedd, a co-president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council. But she remains suspicious of other SNP lawmakers and said she’s convinced that “the independence thing is a total and foolish waste of time.”

Did the Brexit vote unleash the bigots? Some British Jews think so


For two years, in her travels around the English capital, Natalie Pitimson has toted a library bag emblazoned with a word in Yiddish.

“The word ‘schlep’ written on the side perfectly describes my regular hour-long trek through central London,” Pitimson, a senior sociology lecturer at the University of Brighton, wrote on her blog.

She had encountered no unpleasant incidents over the bag, whose slogan “reminds me of growing up in a lively Jewish family where such phrases littered otherwise very English sentences,” she wrote.

But last week, the bag caused Pitimson distress when it invited a vicious verbal attack by a fellow passenger of the London underground. According to Pitimson, the man told her to “f— off back to Israel with the other yids.”

The June 28 incident left Pitimson “shaking and very upset,” she wrote. “I thought about nothing else for the rest of the day. I have never been targeted in this way before.”

Pitimson traces the schlep incident to a noticeable uptick in expressions of xenophobia following the June 23 referendum in the United Kingdom, in which 52 percent of voters supported a British exit, or Brexit, from the European Union.

As the nation struggles to deal with the aftermath of the divisive vote, Brexit opponents cite such incidents as proof that the vote has unleashed a wave of racism. According to the National Police Chiefs Council, 331 alleged hate crime incidents were reported to police in the week after the vote, compared with a weekly average of only 63 before the vote (the statement did not specify the previous time period).

The Community Security Trust, British Jewry’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, expressed its concern, along with other British Jewish groups, over this rise in incidents, which included hate graffiti against Polish immigrants and verbal abuse of other immigrants on the street.

But neither CST nor the Campaign Against Antisemitism, a smaller, volunteer-led alternative to the CST, can point to any directly related rise in anti-Semitic incidents following Brexit.

In the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Golders Green, some locals said they feel no less safe after the vote than they did before. “I don’t see it, not more than usual,” said Mike Cohen, an observant Jew from Golders Green. “Not on the street, not on television, not anywhere.”

Nevertheless, reports of hate crimes and verbal attacks prompted front-page headlines and passionate op-eds in Britain’s liberal media. Minister David Cameron, who has worked tirelessly to prevent a Brexit vote and resigned over his efforts’ failure, condemned the spate of attacks.

“In the past few days we have seen despicable graffiti daubed on a Polish community centre, we’ve seen verbal abuse hurled against individuals because they are members of ethnic minorities,” Cameron said in Parliament last week. “Let’s remember these people have come here and made a wonderful contribution to our country. We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks; they must be stamped out.”

But some Brexit supporters suggested Cameron and other Brexit opponents were exaggerating the severity of the situation to undermine the Brexit results.

Will Franken, a conservative London comedian and blogger, wrote that the media and watchdog groups reporting a rise in hate crimes were “scaremongering” to discredit those who voted to leave the EU.

CST’s director of communications, Mark Gardner, said his organization was “taking very seriously concerns that anti-Semitism might be abused by those with other agendas than fighting racism.”

But Gardner also said that complaints of racist rhetoric after Brexit nonetheless gives cause for concern.

“The racism that came out in Brexit’s wake is based on the principle of ‘taking the country back’ and when that is the mode of thinking, it is very easy for Jews to also be labeled as aliens, as inauthentic to Britain,” he said.

He added the “Brexit has been seized upon by far-right anti-Semites in social media circles, where some celebrated the vote as a defeat to Zionist bankers.”

Pitimson has no doubt that her subway ordeal is Brexit-related.

“I’ve just been verbally abused – tell me again how racism played no part in Brexit,” she titled her blog entry on the experience.

Though her interlocutor said nothing of the vote specifically, Pitimson feels his actions are an expression of nationalist sentiment against anyone perceived to be foreign. Immigration was a major theme for those who voted to leave the EU, many of whom cited concerns over the stream of 1.8 million Muslims who entered Europe this year from the Middle East. Migrant workers from Eastern European were also a major gripe.

In another London underground incident, filmmaker Haim Bresheeth said that on June 24, an “obvious Brexiter” confronted him because Bresheeth spoke in Hebrew on the phone. “In this country we speak English! Can’t you speak English, sir?” the man told Bresheeth, but made no reference to the vote, according to Bresheeth’s account on Facebook of the incident.

Berlin rabbi: Jewish leaders need to help save the EU


A prominent rabbi in Berlin called on other Jewish community leaders to do everything in their power to prevent additional countries from leaving the European Union after Britain’s vote to exit the bloc.

Yehudah Teichtal, a rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin, made the call Tuesday in a statement about his meeting with Thomas Oppermann, the head of the German Social Democratic Party’s faction in the German parliament.

Teichtal told Oppermann that in his conversations with European rabbis and Jewish leaders he “encourages them to take action and prevent any further breaking in the EU,” the statement said. “I call upon the leaders of all Jewish communities around Europe to do whatever they can and execute all of their influence” to prevent additional exits, the rabbi was quoted as saying in the statement by his office.

“The establishment of the EU and the multi-cultural approach it symbolizes, contributes to the welfare of Europe’s Jewish communities”, said Teichtal, who is a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi. “Therefore, the possibility of dismantling the EU and reverting back to nation states should worry all Jewish people around Europe.”

Teichtal’s statement follows the June 23 vote in Britain, in which 51 percent of voters supported a British exit, or Brexit, as British media has dubbed the initiative. While this issue has divided British Jewry, several European rabbis issued calls similar to Teichtal’s.

The President of the European Conference of Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, last week said that, “After Brexit we live in a new Europe. The voices calling for the dismantling of the European Union are getting stronger and our continent is prone to more shakeups and changes.”

Rabbi Mencahem Margolin, another Chabad rabbi and director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe and the European Jewish Association, said following the vote: “We have lost an important voice here in Brussels and across the continent as a whole. Brexit sees a number of threats from these parties who are licking their lips at the prospect of increasing power. It appears that Brexit has given them hope. And that is deeply worrying for Jews across Europe.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Loewenthal, a Chabad British rabbi who lives in Denmark, said following the vote:  “I would’ve preferred that they remain,” but added the European Union “needs to learn” to allow the peoples that make up the bloc to “be diverse, yet remaining connected.”

Only such an attitude, he said, would address the issue that the supporters of leaving the union have with the bloc, namely that “Brussels imposes laws for all its member states, and does not properly take into consideration the individual cultures and needs of the member countries,“ as Loewenthal described this attitude.

Judaism’s own attitude to these issues is reflected in the Menorah, he added, which “has different branches representing different attitudes, different traditions, and different personalities – yet they all face inward to the middle light symbolizing the light of God and the Torah.”

Brexit poll: Jews voted 2-1 to remain in EU


Twice as many British Jews voted to remain in the European Union rather than exit, according to a new survey.

Conducted by the Survation polling firm earlier this week for The Jewish Chronicle, the opinion poll of  1,000 British Jews showed that 59 percent were displeased by last week’s narrow vote to leave the EU, compared to 28.3 percent of respondents who were pleased with the result.

Surveyed after the vote, 59 percent of respondents said they voted Remain, with 31 percent voting Leave. Six percent did not vote, they said.

Of those who voted for a British exit, or Brexit, 11 percent said they now regret their decision.

A similar poll conducted ahead of the vote showed a 50-50 split.

As a result of the June 23 referendum, 38 percent of Jews indicated they felt less safe, compared to 42 percent who said they did not feel any decrease in their level of security.

Xenophobic hate speech saw an uptick in Britain following the vote, with dozens of cases involving nationalistic rhetoric observed within days of the vote. But the Community Security Trust, the Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, said none of the reported incidents show a direct link to anti-Semitism.

Brexit and the global democracy deficit


I arrived in London early on the afternoon of June 24, already knowing the results of the Brexit vote. I had checked obsessively on the flight from Los Angeles through the wonders (or burdens) of airborne Wi-Fi. Like most locals in England, I was stunned. Even those opposed to remaining in the European Union assumed that, at the end of the day, the majority would vote to stay put. In this regard, I had figured that the Brits would do as the Scots had done in their independence referendum in 2014, pull back from the brink of rupture at the last minute.    

The results of the vote shocked to the core. Londoners, who voted 60-40 in favor of staying, were despondent and bewildered. All of the employees at the hotel where I stayed, every one of whom was a foreigner, gave voice to a mix of anger and fear.  They came to London in search of opportunity, education and stability. They no longer knew where they stood in their adopted country. Similarly, everyone I met in shul and at Shabbat dinner later that evening, to a person, was aghast at the self-inflicted wound of the British, shuddering at the prospect of Boris Johnson as Britain’s next prime minister. Many of us could not avoid asking ourselves: If so many of the British pulled the lever as they did, couldn’t Americans do the same and allow the unimaginable to happen in November?

It is quite easy to surrender to dark predictions of the imminent demise of Britain, the European Union and the world at this juncture. In a more sober moment, I realize that I don’t share the dire pessimism of many. While I believe the vote was a colossal political miscalculation by David Cameron and a bad decision by the electorate, it also strikes me that there is too much on the line for the EU to act impetuously and vindictively by freezing the United Kingdom out of Europe. It is important, then, that negotiations over the “divorce” proceed not in the heat of the moment, but rather deliberately, as the consistently surprising and sage Angela Merkel proposed, thereby assuring the best interests of both parties.   

And yet, in assessing the damage, it is clear that we must begin to connect the dots. What we are witnessing is not the venting of the wrath of British voters alone. We are witnessing a global phenomenon, a wide-scale pushback against the post-World War II ideal of liberal democracy. One sees this throughout the Continent, from Greece to Hungary, Spain to Poland, from Russia to Great Britain, and reaching across the Atlantic to the United States. One can even see the grave threats to the democratic order in Israel, to which politicians such as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon have ominously referred, as part of this trend.  

The current democracy deficit has many causal factors, though two in particular seem worthy of mention. Each derives from a different version of liberalism. First, globalization, the idea of open global economic borders without national restraints, once upon a time seemed to be the perfect system for the fleet, wireless and borderless 21st century. It turns out, though, that globalization can and has run roughshod over the economic and social orders of old, rendering obsolete the local worker, shop and customs. What Britons who supported the Leave campaign said the day after the vote was that, at last, they had their country back. The sense of ceding power — and of a lost cultural identity — was profound.  

That feeling of cultural, economic and political loss results from a second factor: the extraordinary movement of populations in the world todday. Not since World War II have we seen as high a number of refugees: an estimated 65 million in 2015 (compared with 40 million in the 1940s), according to the United Nations. The arrival of new immigrants and refugees into Western countries, often from the Middle East or Central Asia, was initially welcomed — or at least permitted — in the name of a humanitarian, pluralist liberalism. There was a sense that the developed world had a responsibility to the developing world, a moral obligation to extend a hand to the less fortunate as a basic human right.  

Over time, locals in the absorbing countries came to feel displaced by the new arrivals. Their unease and fear are understandable and cannot be dismissed as misanthropy or a mere figment of their imaginations. Social services are strained, good jobs are scarce and new cultural norms challenge old ones. And yet, neither the challenges nor the dynamism of global movement are new.  

It is striking that the Western country that has absorbed the largest number of refugees and immigrants of late, Germany, with 1 million in recent years, is the most stable in the European Union. This should tell us something about the possibility of moving ahead into the 21st century without turning one’s back on liberal democratic values. To be sure, there do need to be reforms made in order to overcome globalization’s disregard for local workers in the name of the next cheap labor market. And there is surely a limit to the absorptive capacity of Western countries regarding new arrivals. But the answer does not lie in a closed-door policy. Hopefully, the British and European Union, after the bracing wake-up call of the Brexit vote, will return to their senses and recognize the mutual benefit of their partnership, even under a different name. 

David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA.

Have we taken leave of our senses?


As a British Jew in London, I got a rude awakening on the morning of June 24. Looking at my phone at 7 in the morning, I could hardly believe what I was reading in the notifications from the news sites I subscribe to.

I am rabbi to a congregation of more than 3,000 members, and barely anyone who had spoken to me about the European Union referendum campaign had indicated that they were going to vote to leave. Over the past few weeks, I had been part of a two straw polls in which people indicated how they were likely to vote, one at our Assembly of Rabbis, one among a large studio audience at a television debate on an unrelated religious issue on which I was a panelist. Both times, the indication was a large majority wanted to remain. The national polls had been saying that the result was likely to be close, but close in favor of Remain, not Leave. While sermons had been preached on the issues as how they might affect the Jewish community at our civically engaged synagogue, the synagogue had not taken a line on which way to vote as we knew that there was a small amount of diversity in opinion that had to be respected.

At 7 in the morning of June 24, I had to face the screaming evidence that I did not know my country. Britain, up to that point, felt safe for Jews to thrive in a multicultural outward looking, welcoming society. It was one where we felt connected to the rest of the world through our membership in the powerful and open European Union. Now it feels horribly uncertain. For the country to split so evenly on such a big issue is worrying, and the Jewish community is largely on the losing side of the argument. 

The statistics provide very strong evidence for this. Nationally, the Leave vote was 51.9 percent, the Remain vote was 48.1 percent. It means half the country’s citizens in a vote with a high 72 percent turnout do not agree with the other half. The Jewish community in Britain is concentrated in London. Of 264,000 of us, according to the 2011 census, more than 75 percent live in London, where the vote to remain was the substantial majority. In the area where almost all of the members of my synagogue live, and which is the area of the highest concentration of Jews in the country, the Remain vote was more than 80 percent.

On the afternoon of the announcement of the results, the conference of our national Movement for Reform Judaism began. It meant that I was now together with Jews from all around the country and, informally, this confirmed for me that most Jews had been on the Remain side.

Speaking to people around the conference, Brexit was, of course, a major topic of conversation. People’s reasons for voting Remain had been those of Britain’s middle class in general: the ability of their children to find employment if they wished throughout Europe; the ability of their companies to trade widely and easily; a comfort with immigration to Britain as a benefit to the economy and cultural richness of the nation.

But there were also more Jewish issues among the reasons for Remain: a strong discomfort with the far right-wing stance of some in the Leave camp whose success might encourage other similar groups across Europe that include Jews among the groups they reject; a sense that a Jew must be able to live elsewhere in case of emergency, a reality lived one or two generations previously by those with Jewish refugee ancestors; the knowledge that the European Union had enshrined the cessation of regular war between European nations within which Jews had been scapegoats in the past; and, from a more positive perspective, the unity of the European Jewish community, demonstrated in our European Union for Progressive Judaism, the Orthodox Council of European Rabbis and many other cooperative institutions and, of course, family and personal relationships across Europe.

Yet our country had rejected this. Many Jews have been talking about how little we know the parts of Britain that must feel economically disenfranchised, that feel under threat from the free movement of European people, that feel safer closed in.

At our Reform Movement conference, speaking privately with members of a synagogue in one of the northern cities that voted more than 70 percent to leave the EU, I heard they were sure their community in that city had voted with the majority. They experienced the disenfranchisement and disillusion with the EU just as much as their fellow citizens and felt that any Jewish community arguments to remain were of lesser value when you have lived for decades with uncertain employment and a low-wage, local economy.

Leaving the EU — and the process of leaving — will undoubtedly have an effect on the Jewish community. We expect it to be harder to raise funds for Jewish community life as the uncertainly of the economy makes our members naturally cautious. The British Jewish community has been thriving, with great new institutions and synagogues being built, especially in London, but our ambition may now be on hold.

We are concerned about Brexit encouraging the far right across Europe and possibly leading to continental European countries facing the same disunity Britain has just shown. A community so dedicated to bringing up our next generation is worried that our children’s future, their options for work and residence, and their ability to study abroad has just been constricted. Above all, we are worried that we didn’t really know how the rest of the country thinks.

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith is rabbi at Alyth Synagogue in Golders Green, London. He was ordained at Leo Baeck College in London in 1996 and is past chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK and the Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism.

UK agency fears for future of kosher slaughter following Brexit vote


A group working to safeguard kosher slaughter in Britain warned of uncertainty surrounding its mission following the British vote to exit the European Union.

A spokesman for Shechitah UK said Tuesday that he fears losing the European Union’s protections of “faith communities” or seeing kosher slaughter put to a vote in Parliament that might be influenced by critics of Jewish and Muslim techniques for slaughtering animals.

“While some European countries have implemented domestic legislation against shechitah and there was a danger that a wider precedent would be set,” Shechitah UK spokesman Shimon Cohen told JTA, Britain’s government “has always been guided by the European Union and the European Commission has put great emphasis on protecting faith communities.”

But if Britain leaves, Cohen said, its government “would either have to ask parliament to adopt” EU regulations that exempt faith communities from certain regulations “or come up with its own law. Either way, if it goes to a vote in the House of Parliament, it’s a numbers game and the risks are very high.”

Shechitah, the Hebrew word for kosher slaughter, and the Muslim variant of the practice are facing attack in Europe because they are deemed by many to be cruel to animals since stunning is prohibited prior to slaughter.

Other opponents of ritual slaughter resent its proliferation following the arrival to Europe of millions of Muslims from the 1950s onward.

However, EU membership does not necessarily enshrine shechitah, as member states are free to dispense with the exemptions from EU regulations.

Opposition to schechitah led to a ban by the Netherlands in 2010, but it was overturned by the Dutch Senate in 2012. Also, the Polish parliament banned the practice in 2013, though the prohibition has since been partially overturned. The practice is currently illegal in two EU member states – Sweden and Denmark – as well as three other non-EU countries in Western Europe: Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. EU members Finland, Austria and Estonia enforce strict supervision of the custom that some Jews there say make it nearly impossible.

In the debate leading up to the Brexit vote, advocates of remaining argued that staying in the EU assured protection for religious liberties. Supporters of an exit took the opposite view, citing legislation limiting religious freedoms on the continent.

Brexit in Bali


It’s not the JFK assassination or 9/11, but even so, I’ll never forget where I was when I first read about Brexit.

I was on a beach on Lembongan Island, just off the coast of Bali.

Look it up on Google Maps: It’s a dot in the Indian Ocean. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more remote place.

And yet, there I sat at Nyoman’s Warung, a slab of concrete on the beach fitted out with battered teak tables and chairs, a thatched coconut-mat roof overhead. Just a few feet from my table, impossibly blue water lapped against the crushed white coral. Bamboo wind chimes sounded a timeless echo. Just behind me, I could hear Nyoman herself cooking the day’s fish on a sheet-metal grill primed with coconut husk charcoal.  

I popped open a cold Bintang and told myself to just enjoy the moment, the astonishing view, the edge-of-the-world quiet. But I couldn’t help noticing the strong cell signal on my iPhone. OK, just a quick peek at the New York Times app.

In Britain, some 8,000 miles away, a majority of voters had just chosen to leave the European Union. The pundits were calling the results of the historic referendum a rebellion against globalization. Britain’s disgruntled working class failed to sense the benefits of a system of open trade and porous borders. They saw it benefiting urban elites, leaving everyone else vulnerable to an influx of cheap foreign goods and labor and increased regulations. Globalization, they felt, undermined their economic stability and their English identity. 

Well, I thought, at least they had a vote.

My wife and I were winding down a two-week trip to Bali — for our 25th anniversary — and one indelible impression was that globalization had hit little Bali like a tsunami. Even if people there wanted one, there would be no Balexit.

The challenges of globalization that have been rocking the developed world — blamed for everything from Brexit to Trump — are even starker in the developing world. 

The Bali of your dreams, the Bali of “Eat, Pray, Love” has become a globalized tourist mecca. Cars, motorcycles and tour buses choke the small roads lined with global brands. The village of Ubud, where author Elizabeth Gilbert discovered the “Pray” part of her journey, now makes the Venice boardwalk look pastoral. I don’t think she would have been as taken by the Ubud Starbucks or Polo store.  

“People come here because it’s quiet,” our driver, Ketut, told us, “but then it’s not quiet. They come for the culture, but for them we give up our culture.”

Bali has lured foreign tourists ever since the first travel posters of bare-breasted Balinese women hit Europe in the 1930s. But what’s different now is the sheer rapidity of change, fueled by foreign investment, technology and international tourism. 

“That book was like a bomb that went off — boom!” Ketut said. All over Bali, people spoke of the island pre- and post-“Eat, Pray, Love,” a love letter turned wrecking ball. 

But it wasn’t just the book. Globalization has also spawned a gigantic middle class in India and China, and guess where they were all spending their holiday? With us, in Bali.

It is a blessing and a curse. The average Balinese lives on $1,800 per year. Tourism has enabled our guides to make that, or more, in a good month. That means better education and health care for their children. But they also complain that payoffs enable developers to plant hotels and restaurants next to sacred temples, and the fragile Balinese environment is being bled for the last dollar.  

With all these pressures and few controls on development, plus a lot of graft, the spiritual, quiet Bali is now harder and harder to find. 

We found it on the mainland’s back roads and on Lembongan — there is still remarkable beauty, romance and culture in Bali. But as I sat in Nyoman’s café, I wondered how long that would last. International hotels were engulfing the island’s fishermen’s shacks. Oil from the motorboats that show tourists the wonders of Lembongan have already destroyed the island’s once-thriving seaweed farms and are now choking out the coral and killing the plankton. When I looked more carefully at my photos of the island, I noticed just how many cellphone towers were nestled among the coconut palms. 

“We were too late for Ubud,” my wife said, “but just in time for Lembongan.” 

The Balinese we spoke with see these forces at work but feel powerless to control them. And the truth is, it isn’t even clear Britons have a choice. Now that the full implications of Brexit are beginning to become clear, there are calls for a do-over, or at least for making the implementation something less than a clean exit. The angry Brits are realizing what the Balinese already know: There is no going back; you can only learn to surf the tsunami.  

As I left Nyoman’s, I stopped to thank the small, middle-aged owner for one of the simplest and best meals I’d ever had. 

“You’re welcome,” Nyoman said as she took my hand. She looked up into my eyes. “But please say you like on Trip Advisor.”

ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism and @RobEshman.

UK vows action after racist attacks on Poles and Muslims in wake of Brexit


Polish and Muslim leaders in Britain expressed concern on Monday after a spate of racially motivated hate crimes following last week's vote to leave the European Union in which immigration was widely regarded as a key factor in the outcome.

Police said offensive leaflets targeting Poles had been distributed in a town in central England, and graffiti had been daubed on a Polish cultural center in London on Sunday, three days after the vote.

Meanwhile, Islamic groups said there had been a sharp rise in incidents against Muslims since last Friday, many of which were directly linked to the decision for a British exit, or Brexit.

Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the attacks in parliament and said he had spoken to the Polish counterpart Beata Szydlo to express his concern and to reassure her Poles in Britain would be protected.

“In the past few days we have seen despicable graffiti daubed on a Polish community center, we've seen verbal abuse hurled against individuals because they are members of ethnic minorities,” Cameron said.

“We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks. They must be stamped out,” he added.

Immigration emerged as one of the key themes of the EU referendum campaign, with those who backed a British exit arguing membership of the bloc had allowed uncontrolled numbers of migrants to come to Britain from eastern Europe.

A few days before the vote, Sayeeda Warsi, a former minister in Cameron's ruling Conservative Party, quit the Brexit campaign accusing it of spreading lies, hatred and xenophobia.

There has been a large Polish community in Britain since World War Two and that number has grown after Poland joined the EU in 2004. There are about 790,000 Poles living in Britain according to official figures from 2014, the second-largest overseas-born population in the country after those from India.

OFFENSIVE LEAFLETS

Cambridgeshire Police said they were investigating after offensive leaflets were left on cars and delivered to homes in Huntingdon. According to the local paper, the Cambridge News, the cards, which had a Polish translation, read: “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin”.

At the Polish Social and Cultural Association in London, which opened in 1974 and is home to the majority of Britain's Polish organizations, graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom.

“This is an outrageous act that disgusts not only me and the Polish community but everyone in Hammersmith & Fulham,” local lawmaker Andy Slaughter said on Twitter.

The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group for many of the organizations which represent the country's 2.7 million Muslims, said more than 100 hate crimes had been reported since the result of the referendum.

“Our country is experiencing a political crisis which, I fear, threatens the social peace,” said Shuja Shafi, the MCB Secretary General.

Fiyaz Murghal, the founder of a group which monitors attacks on Muslims, said it had received details of some 30 incidents including a Muslim councillor in Wales who was told to pack her bags and two men shouting “We voted for you being out” at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab as she went to a mosque in London.

“The Brexit vote seems to have given courage to some with deeply prejudicial and bigoted views that they can air them and target them at predominantly Muslim women and visibly different settled communities,” Murghal said.

Brexit splits UK from Europe and Labour from its party leader


Only a week ago, Jeremy Corbyn seemed to have survived his biggest public relations debacle as the leader of Britain’s Labour Party:  the proliferation of anti-Semitic rhetoric among its members.

Yet this week, the British vote to leave the European Union achieved what Corbyn’s opponents failed to do in their attacks against him over anti-Semitism.

On Tuesday, 172 Labour lawmakers among the total 229 in the Parliament said they had no confidence in Corbyn, opening the door to a challenge that if co-signed by 51 lawmakers will lead to internal elections.

The previous day, the party’s leadership abandoned Corbyn in a mass walkout over his perceived failure to effectively lobby against the Brexit, which a majority of voters supported in Thursday’s referendum.

Relying on strong popular support in the Labour rank-and-file and ignoring calls to resign by former supporters who quit in protest of his leadership, Corbyn is holding on to his seat. Critics say he risks splitting and ruining a party that used to be a natural political home for British minority groups, including many from the Jewish community.

On Monday and Tuesday, 24 Labour shadow ministers – senior lawmakers who hold key portfolios within the opposition party – resigned their roles, citing Corbyn’s handling of the Brexit vote. A former Euro-sceptic, Corbyn led a “stay” campaign that was so lackluster and low-key that he faced accusations within his party of deliberately sabotaging the party position.

Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative who campaigned vigorously for a stay vote, announced his resignation following the referendum’s result, citing a need for leadership that reflects the will of the majority of British voters.

Corbyn, however, dug in his heels. After the walkout and no-confidence vote, he issued a defiant statement saying he would not betray those who voted for him by resigning.

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy,” he said.

Among the Labourites bolting over the Brexit issue was Luciana Berger, a Jewish lawmaker who had resisted repeated calls by Jews and non-Jews to distance herself from Corbyn over the anti-Semitism issue in the party.

“I have always served the Labour leader and our party with loyalty,” Berger wrote in her resignation letter, in which she also noted Corbyn “always served with great principle” and has shown her “nothing but kindness.” Berger, the shadow minister on mental health, said she was resigning “with deep sadness” because “loyalty to the party must come first” and because “we need a Labour leader who can unite our party.”

Like other senior Labour lawmakers, Berger stuck with Corbyn throughout the anti-Semitism controversy “because she wanted to make a difference in her field of political engagement,” David Hirsh, a British Jewish columnist and prominent sociologist at the University of London, told JTA.

She was able to do so, added Hirsh, who is a Labour member and critic of Corbyn, because “while the anti-Semitism issue certainly hurt Corbyn, he had temporarily defused it” by setting up an internal inquiry. But the Brexit vote “has led to such a political and economic crisis in Britain that Corbyn’s Labour opponents did not feel they could remain silent any longer.”

With the Conservative Party in turmoil over Cameron’s resignation, elections may be around the corner, possibly this year. Corbyn is widely seen as too radical to be voted into a position of power.

“Corbyn cannot win a general election, so Labour politicians no longer feel they have the luxury of waiting to see what happens. They feel they need to act now,” Hirsh said.

The attempted coup against Corbyn comes amid a widening split within Labour between its moderate center and the left-of-center camp supporting Corbyn. A hard-core socialist that has major traction with anti-establishment voters, Corbyn used to vote left of Labour before he came to lead the party. His rise within Labour coincided with an influx into the party of tens of thousands of his supporters – a process that many observers said also led to the proliferation of anti-Semitic speech and conspiracy theories.

Under fire by senior party members who accused him of either doing too little to curb the phenomenon or of contributing to it with his open endorsement of anti-Israel terrorists, Corbyn took a serious beating in the mainstream media. The pressure mounted after Ken Livingstone, a former mayor of London, said Adolf Hitler was a Zionist. Livingstone was suspended from the party.

Hirsh said the influx of left-of-center supporters may mean that Corbyn is correct in asserting that he represents the majority of Labour members. But the growing gap between his supporters and a substantial part of Labour’s leadership and establishment risks tearing apart Labour, splitting it into centrist and radical factions, he added.

The concern over a split in the Labour Party into a radical and moderate wing also exists for the Conservative Party, which is also divided on the Brexit issue.

If radical Conservatives prevail, it will be at the expense of Cameron’s camp, which many British Jews credit with leading an essentially liberal democratic line and resolute opposition to racism. A right-of-center victory could encourage xenophobia – a prospect the Board of Deputies of British Jews already warned about in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Corbyn himself has stressed that he rejects all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. But like many British Jews and the community’s leadership, Hirsh insists that “the Corbynite wing of the Labour Party carries anti-Semitic ways of thinking.” To the extent that it is successful in mainstream politics, he added, “it will carry that with it into British political life.”

Forget Brexit. Remember rain.


I was startled to see Laura Haim’s face on TV. It made sense that she’d be on cable news last week; as White House correspondent for the French network Canal Plus, she was well placed to tell Americans the French reaction to Brexit. What brought me up short was that I’d forgotten about her.

Without consciously deciding to, I’d filed away my recollection of watching her night after night on MSNBC, reporting what her sources were telling her about the ISIS attacks in Paris.  I’d been obsessed with that story, and fearful for my safety and my kids’, just as I’d been even more acutely after the killings in nearby San Bernardino. But at some point in the six months since then my memory of Paris and of Haim had submerged, like the alligator at Disney World, until the terrorist murders in Orlando. 

Sometimes I forget to be afraid of things. Right now I’m plenty worried about the financial and political aftermath of Brexit. I’m panicky about its impact on my nest egg, and I’m scared that the xenophobia that fueled it could also fuel a Trump win. But if the past is any guide, those fears will be displaced by future reasons for insomnia. You can’t worry about everything all the time. For weeks or months on end, I can forget to worry about earthquakes in Los Angeles, but then a serious shaker somewhere in the world will remind me that living here is licking the razor.  I often forget to worry about climate change, until a heat wave in India or a forest fire in California reminds me that most people now alive will live to see its far worse consequences.

Something similar to forgetting fears happens to me, and maybe to you, with outrage. It’s as though my bandwidth for fury has a limit. There’s only so much I can be actively, currently pissed off about; in order to get my anger pumping, new injustices need to push previous affronts off my radar. 

So I’m irate with John McCain for saying that Barack Obama is directly responsible for the slaying of 49 people in Orlando, then I’m enraged at Paul Ryan for refusing to bring gun safety to a vote, until I’m once again livid at Mitch McConnell’s refusal to bring Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination for a vote that resulted in the 4-4 tie that doomed Obama’s immigration plan. I’m boiling at CNN for hiring Trump stooge Corey Lewandowski, until I’m more maddened at the way they cover Trump’s Scottish golf resort infomercial: with a wry, What-an-inveterate-salesman tone, instead of a pitiless, What-a-corrupt-embarrassment.

All the while that fear and outrage are running zero-sum games for dominance of my headspace, even as I forget to be afraid or outraged by anything but the most immediate ugly news, there’s something else I forget unless it forces itself on my attention. But when the breaking news is the sound that rain makes, or the shape of a leaf, or the fact that there is something rather than nothing: that’s when I recall that noticing what is is not a finite human faculty.

We have a limitless capacity for amazement.  Mindfulness is not a zero-sum game. If you pay attention to the crackle of a strawberry seed in your mouth, that wonderment does not displace a prior alertness to existence; it adds to it. Ordinary mysticism — the experience of being right here, right now, whether you’re by the ocean or by the washing machine — is cumulative. The more you have, the more you have. It’s a mercy that we can’t keep in mind all the reasons the world forces on us to be frightened or furious; if we did, our heads would explode, and our spirits would be suicidal. It’s something of a miracle that when it comes to awe, we can contain multitudes.

Right now, any sign that Donald Trump could be our next president has a good shot at owning my mind. I see that the Brexit vote is disproportionately powered by elderly Britons, and I see in that a mirror of Trump’s base. I see “Leave” campaign leader Nigel Farrage promise that if the U.K. exits the E.U., the National Health Service will get the 350 million pounds per week that Britain gives Europe; I see the British press try in vain to debunk that claim; the morning after the vote, I see Farrage admit it was a “mistake” (i.e., lie) — and I think of another liar’s immune-to-fact-checking promise: “Who will pay for the wall?” “Mexico!” I see that within hours of the Brexit outcome, more than a million establishment-kicking, remorseful British voters have signed a petition for a re-vote, and I imagine the American hangover the morning after the send-them-a-message victory of President-elect Trump.

Minds are funny. A North Korean nuke would take mine off Trump. So would a news fast. I’m just glad that no one needs a nightmare or a digital detox to surrender to a starry night.   

Jewish Journal columnist and USC Annenberg professor Marty Kaplan won 1st Place for Commentary at the Los Angeles Press Club's 58th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards on June 26. Reach him at martyk@jewishjournal.com.

Preparing for Brexit, Britain may see new PM by early September


Britain could have a new prime minister by early September, the ruling Conservative Party said on Monday, after David Cameron started laying the groundwork for his successor to trigger the country's exit from the European Union.

The government is under pressure to fill a vacuum left when Cameron announced he would resign by October after Britain ignored his advice and voted to leave the 28-member bloc in last week's referendum.

Triggering a leadership battle that could draw in some of his closest advisers, Cameron urged ministers to work together in the meantime. But he also formed a separate unit, staffed by public servants, to help advise Britain on its departure and its options for a future outside the EU.

“Although leaving the EU was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths as a country,” Cameron told parliament.

“As we proceed with implementing this decision and facing the challenges that it will undoubtedly bring, I believe we should hold fast to a vision of Britain that wants to be respected abroad, tolerant at home, engaged in the world.”

Asked about the possibility of a second EU referendum, Cameron said the result of Thursday's vote must be accepted.

Graham Brady, chair of the “1922 Committee” of Conservative lawmakers, which sets the party's ground rules in parliament, said the group had recommended that the leadership contest should begin next week and conclude no later than Sept. 2.

That recommendation will almost certainly be passed.

“Both the Conservatives and the country more generally really want certainty. We would like a resolution and we think it would be a good thing to conclude this process as soon as we practicably can,” Brady told Sky News.

He said there should be no new parliamentary election before Britain had negotiated the terms of its exit from the EU.

Several Conservative lawmakers have urged leadership candidates to try to broker a deal quickly to make sure that any campaign is as painless as possible, and to avoid deepening divisions exposed during the referendum campaign.

“A leadership contest now is not in the interests of our country,” said Justine Greening, international development minister. “It will mean our party focuses inward at the very time our country most needs us to focus outward.”

 

JOCKEYING FOR POSITION

Work and pensions minister Stephen Crabb is considering a bid to succeed Cameron, Sky News reported, citing sources. He is canvassing Conservative lawmakers for support along with Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who is seeking to become finance minister, Sky said.

The editor of the Spectator magazine tweeted that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was also “highly likely” to launch a leadership bid.

But all eyes are on former London mayor Boris Johnson, the most prominent of the “Leave” campaigners and now bookmakers' favourite to succeed Cameron.

But not all party members back him and many are pressing for “Anyone But Boris”, seeing his decision to back the Leave campaign as a betrayal of his former ally Cameron, according to media reports.

A YouGov opinion poll on Monday showed interior minister Theresa May scored better than Johnson on who would make the best prime minister, among both the general public and Conservative voters.

Cameron's spokesman said the prime minister would not endorse any candidate to succeed him.

Instead, Cameron urged unity both in government and in the country and announced he had set up an advisory unit to help manage Britain's departure from the European Union and to make sure his successor has all the information necessary to decide the country's future.

“Clearly this will be the most complex and most important task that the British civil service has undertaken in decades. So the new unit will sit at the heart of government and be led by and staffed by the best and brightest from across our civil service,” Cameron said.

For now, the priority was working together on government business, which some critics say has been all but put on hold since campaigning for the referendum began in February, and reassuring the many migrants who fear their status may change.

Cameron told parliament he would not put up with intolerance, after reports that migrants, particularly those from Poland, had been told by some Britons to “go home” since the referendum.

“Let's remember these people have come here and made a wonderful contribution to our country. And we will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks,” he said. “They must be stamped out.”

Britain votes to leave EU, Cameron quits


Britain has voted to leave the European Union, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War II.

Global financial markets plunged as results from Thursday's referendum showed a near 52-48 percent split for leaving.

The pound fell more than 10 percent against the dollar to levels last seen in 1985, its biggest one-day fall in history, and European shares plummeted more than 8 percent, headed for their biggest ever one-day fall.

Billions of dollars were wiped off European banks' market value, with Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group the biggest fallers.

Cameron, who lost his gamble betting the nation's future on an outcome he predicted would be catastrophic, said he would resign as prime minister by October.

“I do not think it would be right for me to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,” he said in a televised address outside his Downing Street office.

Quitting the EU could cost Britain access to the EU's trade barrier-free single market and mean it must seek new trade accords with countries around the world. The United Kingdom itself could break apart, with leaders in Scotland — where nearly two-thirds of voters wanted to stay in the EU — calling for a new vote on independence.

The EU for its part will be economically and politically damaged, facing the departure not only of its most free-market proponent but also a member with a U.N. Security Council veto and powerful army. In one go, the bloc will lose around a sixth of its economic output. Populist leaders in France and the Netherlands demanded their own referendums to leave.

The vote will initiate at least two years of divorce proceedings with the EU, the first exit by any member state. Cameron said it would be up to his successor to formally start the exit process.

His Conservative Party rival Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who became the most recognisable face of the “leave” camp, is now widely tipped to seek his job.

INDEPENDENCE DAY

There was euphoria among Britain's eurosceptic forces, claiming a victory over the political establishment, big business and foreign leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama who had urged Britain to stay in.

“Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,” said Nigel Farage, leader of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party. “This will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people … Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.”

European politicians reacted with shock. “Please tell me I'm still sleeping and this is all just a bad nightmare!” former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb tweeted.

French National Front leader Marine Le Pen declared “Victory for freedom!”. Dutch far right leader Geert Wilders said: “We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy.”

Britain, which joined the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, has always been an ambivalent member. A firm supporter of free trade, tearing down internal economic barriers and expanding the EU to take in ex-communist eastern states, it opted out of joining the euro single currency or the Schengen border-free zone.

Cameron's ruling Conservatives in particular have risked being torn apart by euroscepticism for generations.

World leaders including Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO and Commonwealth governments had all urged a “Remain” vote, saying Britain would be stronger and more influential in the EU than outside.

The four-month campaign was among the divisive ever waged in Britain, with accusations of lying and scare-mongering on both sides and rows on immigration which critics said at times unleashed overt racism.

It also revealed deeper splits in British society, with the pro-Brexit side drawing support from millions of voters who felt left behind by globalisation and believed they saw no benefits from Britain's ethnic diversity and free-market economy.

A pro-EU member of parliament was stabbed and shot to death in the street a week ago by an attacker who later told a court his name was “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. Older voters backed Brexit; the young mainly wanted to stay in.

But in the end, concerns over uncontrolled immigration, loss of sovereignty and remote rule from Brussels appear to have trumped almost unanimous warnings of the economic perils of going it alone.

EU OFFICIALS GATHER

The Bank of England said it would take all necessary steps to secure monetary and financial stability. Global policymakers also prepared for action to stabilise markets, with Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso promising to “respond as needed” in the currency market.

EU affairs ministers and ambassadors from member states gather in Luxembourg by 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) for previously-scheduled talks that will provide the first chance for many to react.

Even less clear at this stage is what sort of relationship Britain will seek to negotiate with the EU once it has left.

To retain access to the single market, vital for its giant financial services sector, London would have to adopt all EU regulation without having a say in its shaping, and pay a substantial contribution to Brussels coffers for market access, as Norway and Switzerland do.

EU officials have said UK-based banks and financial firms would lose automatic “passport” access to sell services across Europe if Britain ceased to apply the EU principles of free movement of goods, capital, services and people.

Aside from trade, huge questions now face the millions of British expatriates who live freely elsewhere in the bloc and enjoy equal access to health and other benefits, as well as millions of EU citizens who live and work in Britain.

The Brexit: Six things you need to know


Great Britain and the rest of Europe woke up to a new reality Friday as a slim majority of British voters said their country should leave the European Union. Markets trembled, British currency crashed and British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his pending resignation. It was a major blow to an alliance formed specifically to avoid a repeat of the nationalist rivalries that led to the First and Second World Wars.

Although Britain’s Jews appeared as split as the rest of the country over the “Brexit,” at least one prominent Jewish voice — Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle newspaper, welcomed the vote as “a wonderful day for Britain — and its Jews.” Pollard’s argument: Britain is now free to chart its own course when it comes to Jewish interests, curbing extremism and supporting Israel. “[A]way from the Brussels bartering and negotiations that lie behind the EU’s foreign policy, Britain will be free to carve out an even more supportive stance, should we wish to,” he wrote.

But Pollard hardly spoke for all British Jews, and the impact of the vote may not be as clearcut as he makes it out to be. Here are six things you need to know about the Brexit vote:

No comment, please — we’re British Jews.

The representatives of British Jewry have remained strictly neutral on the Brexit issue because it divides their community of approximately 250,000 people as cleanly as it does the general population, according to a Jewish Chronicle survey from last month. And while prominent British Jewish figures like sociologist David Hirsch lamented the result as the outcome of xenophobia and fear, other notable British Jews celebrated it as a release from Brussels’ dictates – including the Conservative European Parliament lawmaker Daniel Hannan.

It’s not over. 

The June 23 referendum, in which 52 percent voted in the affirmative, is not binding. The prime minister may put the issue up to a vote in Parliament, where a majority is believed to be in favor of remaining. That said, shoving this policy down voters’ throats would be highly controversial, if not incendiary. But then again, so is leaving the EU.

Goodbye, chum. 

Cameron, who bet his political future on a remain vote and announced his resignation following the result, has been an exceptionally good friend to British Jews and to Israel, his critics and supporters agree. Under him, Britain began drafting laws outlawing the boycott effort against Israel and he has allocated an extra $17 million toward protecting Jewish communities.

Hello, mates.

The people likeliest to replace Cameron within the Conservative party have serious pro-Israel and pro-Jewish credentials, too. Boris Johnson, a sharp-tongued former mayor of London who supported Brexit, last year dismissed those seeking to isolate Israel through BDS as “lefty academics” who were unlikely to have influence in Britain, prompting his Palestinian hosts to cancel meetings planned for him in the West Bank. Michael Gove, another Conservative Brexit supporter and Britain’s justice secretary, has had a central role in anti-boycott legislation.

Collateral damage.

The vote hurt not only the leader of the Conservative party, but also Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Labour. A former supporter of less EU intervention in British politics, he nonetheless supported remaining in the European Union and campaigned for this outcome. Now, he is facing internal criticism over his perceived failure to deliver. The many Labour voters who supported Brexit are cited by his rivals within Labour as further proof that Corbyn, who is already facing internal opposition over his downplaying of Labour’s anti-Semitism problem, suffers from leadership issues.

Good news for Trump?

The Brexit vote shocked Britain because many deemed it unthinkable or undoable, believing that, despite the polls, Brexiters would eventually vote to Bremain so as not to rock the boat or cause a currency crash (it happened: the pound dropped to a 31-year low of $1.35 against the dollar). Donald Trump, in Scotland Friday for the opening of one of his golf courses, was quick to interpret Brexit as a hopeful sign for his own presidential bid, which has taken him from Republican Party dark horse to presumptive nominee during a campaign focused on isolationism and opposition to immigration. “I really see a parallel between what’s happening in the United States and what’s happening here, people want to see borders,” he said in Scotland. “It’s happening in the United States, it’s happening by the fact that I’ve done so well in the polls.”

He wasn’t the only one seeing parallels: Bill Kristol, the prominent Jewish neoconservative, said the surprising outcome could reflect a tendency on the part of pollsters to undercount the right-wing vote — as they did when Cameron and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu won elections in 2015  — and that Trump may be doing better than it seems.

On Brexit, a view from an American rabbi in London


I awoke this morning in a different country. Yesterday I accompanied my wife (who holds UK citizenship) to vote on the ‘Brexit’ referendum.  She voted that the UK remain in the European Union, a position favored overwhelmingly by people in their 20s and 30s (as much as 75 percent).  Last night, we stayed up watching as the votes came in and the percentages on the referendum waffled, and with them the value of the British Pound.  Although the measure was predicted to fail by a margin of 4 percent or so, when we woke up this morning we were greeted by a country in chaos.

The measure passed.

The value of the British Pound dropped 10 percent (and with it the value of salaries, pensions, etc.), banks and industry might look to flee the country, the Prime Minister announced he will resign.  Huge numbers of EU migrant workers could face expulsion over the next few years, British citizens who live in Spain or France may face problems.  Scotland is suggesting a break from England.  Most important, the entire political structure of the European Union is undermined, as other countries could now call for referenda to opt out.

How did this happen?  The tropes should sound very familiar in the United States.  Xenophobia, racism, protectionism, a failing rural economy with high levels of wealth inequality.  Generational divides in wealth and success here in BritaÓin are some of the highest in the world.  Ultimately, all these factors led to a rise in far-right-wing politics and a rage-vote of no confidence in the EU.

Even within my own synagogue, admittedly a wealthy suburban congregation, we have had a number of people express anti-European sentiments.  Some of them are themselves immigrants who fled from the Nazis who now wish to pull up the ladder after them and leave Syrian refugees wallowing on the other side of the Channel in France.  Rural voters and those in towns where industry collapsed twinned with the wealthy conservative class to vote in what was presumed to be the self-interest of Britain at the expense of the EU. 

A few words on the EU — not only is the European Union an economic power, but it also has helped Europe function as a political unit since the last World War.  It allows for free movement of labor between its member states and encourages a common currency. 

The vote has been a disaster already and emerged from a country wracked with economic divisions between the super-wealthy and everyone else.  It should sound familiar, and if it doesn’t, Donald Trump’s statement in support of Brexit should clarify any possibility of misunderstanding.

In the U.S., fear of Mexican immigrants has prompted a case for building a new Great Wall of China.  We must not allow demagoguery to triumph; we must not allow rage to dictate the democratic process.  The consequences for Britain on Day 1 post-Brexit-vote have already been dramatic and unpleasant.  Predictions are that the Pound may continue to fall, the economy may collapse, the banking industry (the thing keeping the economy afloat) may flee to Dublin or Paris, and if this continues the future looks bleak.

We must not allow hatred, fear, and xenophobia to govern the democratic process.  Here in London the fear is the Syrian refugees and Muslim ‘terrorist’ migrants (if you want to know what this looks like, google “the Jungle” in Calais).  As Jews, the echoes should be obvious: a group of people fleeing an oppressive government, camped on one side of a narrow strait of water looking for a way to get across to safety.  If the Biblical echoes aren’t enough, we only need to reach back a few decades to see our own people fleeing from Iran, Ethiopia, and Poland.


Rabbi Jason S. Rosner (Wimbledon Synagogue, London), is a Reform Rabbi ordained by Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles (2015).  He lives with his wife Noemie in South West London.

British Jewish leaders keep mum on wisdom of Brexit


Britain’s Jewish leaders had mixed reactions to the country’s surprising vote in favor of leaving the European Union, with few offering an opinion on whether or not leaving the EU is a good idea.

Several praised Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced after the vote that he would resign, for his record on Jewish issues and voiced hope that Thursday’s referendum will put an end to the divisions caused by the so-called “Brexit” campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement praising Cameron but offering no opinion on the nonbinding vote in favor of leaving the EU.

In a notable exception to the lack of opining by Jewish leaders, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard in an Op-Ed in his paper critiqued what he described as “bizarre myths” about “what Brexit will mean for Israel and British Jews.”

Pollard said the country’s departure from the EU will not hurt its relationship with Israel, but could even improve it, saying “one could argue that, away from the Brussels bartering and negotiations that lie behind the EU’s foreign policy, Britain will be free to carve out an even more supportive stance, should we wish to …”

He also argued that leaving the EU would not lead to increased anti-Semitism, suggesting that, “far from Brexit hurting minorities, the real problem for minorities comes … when the mainstream loses touch with people and the only vehicles left to make a point are extremists.”

“Our freedom from the EU will make extremism less, not more, likely, as the pressure cooker is released,” he said.

The UK’s Jewish News reported that the Board of Deputies of British Jews said in a statement that it hoped the country “will now come together” after a “divisive and bruising” campaign, and “will nonetheless continue to work with colleagues and organisations across Europe as part of our broader programme of advocacy on international issues of concern to the Jewish people.”

Sir Mick Davis, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, told the Jewish News he was sad to learn of Cameron’s resignation, because Cameron “has always been a loyal friend of the Jewish community and a visible and vocal supporter of the State of Israel. He has worked constructively with us, engaging on issues of concern to British Jews.”

Noting that the Brexit debate has “sharply divided our country,” the UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said, according to the Jewish News, that “the time for disagreement and division is now over.”

While not specifically addressing the Brexit, Reform Judaism’s Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner told the Jewish News that she hoped the country would “continue to be an outward facing society, confident of its place in the world” and called for Britons to “reject isolation.”

British minister compares Brexit opponents to Nazi campaign against Einstein


Britain’s justice minister likened some opponents of the campaign to have Britain leave the European Union to Nazis behind the smear campaign against Albert Einstein in 1930s Germany.

Michael Gove, who co-chairs the Vote Leave campaign working for Britain’s exit from the EU in the national referendum being held Thursday, made the comparison the previous evening in an interview with LBC radio.

“We have to be careful about historical comparisons, but Albert Einstein during the 1930s was denounced by the German authorities for being wrong and his theories were denounced, and one of the reasons of course he was denounced was because he was Jewish,” said Gove.

Gove was speaking about economists who in the buildup to the vote warned that an exit would have dire consequences for the British financial establishment and market. Prime Minister David Cameron and many of the ruling party’s lawmakers also oppose leaving the European Union.

Elaborating on the Einstein comparison, Gove added: “They got 100 German scientists in the pay of the government to say that he was wrong and Einstein said: ‘Look, if I was wrong, one would have been enough.'” Gove urged listeners to “interrogate the assumptions that are made.”

Noting low growth rates in continental Europe and high unemployment, he said that “freeing ourselves from that project can only strengthen our economy.”

The International Monetary Fund, 10 Nobel Prize-winning economists and the Bank of England have all warned that leaving the EU could damage the economy. Results from numerous polls show a 50-50 split in eligible voters, making the surveys too close to call.

An exit by Britain, one of the union’s leading economies, is widely seen as endangering the body’s integrity.

Millions of Britons arrived Thursday at thousands of polling places to vote on the referendum, despite rainy and stormy weather. Some 46 million are registered to vote.

The Chabad movement, meanwhile, contrasted in an article on its official website the European Union’s fragile state with what Rabbi Menachem Posner, the website’s editor, described as the Jewish people’s unwavering unity.

“A change in circumstance can very well render the union a burden rather than a boon,” he wrote Thursday about the Brexit debate, adding that “there are unions that just don’t break up. Like the union of the Jewish people.”

Despite disagreements and profound differences, “We are one people, united by a common Torah and a common Father in Heaven,” Posner wrote.

Polls close in UK referendum, UKIP leader sees Remain victory


Polling closed in Britain's bitterly fought referendum on whether to quit the European Union on Thursday, with a prominent Leave campaigner saying he expected to lose and an early survey suggesting voters had chosen to remain in the bloc.

The survey by pollster YouGov showed Remain ahead by a margin of 52 to 48 percent. Unlike a classic exit poll, it was based on online responses by a pre-selected sample of people rather than a survey of voters as they left polling stations.

Nigel Farage, head of the UK Independence Party and a leading voice in favour of leaving the EU, told Sky News he did not expect to be on the winning side.

“Turnout looks to be exceptionally high and looks like Remain will edge it,” he said according to the broadcaster. Sterling rose 0.75 percent to $1.4987 on the Farage comments and the poll.

The four-month campaign has sharply polarised the nation and the final outcome of the vote could change the face of Europe.

If Britain becomes the first state to leave the EU, the so-called Brexit would be the biggest blow to the 28-nation bloc since its foundation.

The EU would be stripped of its second-biggest economy and one of its two main military powers, and could face calls for similar votes by anti-EU politicians in other countries.

If it votes to stay, Britain has been promised a special status exempting it from any further political integration, but European leaders will still have to address a sharp rise in euroscepticism across the continent.

A Brexit vote would also deal a potentially fatal blow to the career of Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum and campaigned for the country to stay in, against a Leave camp led by rivals from within his own Conservative Party.

Results are due to be announced by most of the 382 individual local counting areas between around 0000 GMT and 0300 on Friday.

There is no exit poll because the margin of error for an event which has no precedent is too large. Turnout in each counting area will be announced, beginning at around 2230 GMT.

The vote came on a day when London and parts of southeast England were hit by torrential rain, causing floods and widespread transport chaos.

Five London polling stations opened late as staff struggled to get there, and two closed briefly because of flooding but were quickly re-opened in back-up locations.

“In London/southeast and want to vote in the #EURef? Make sure you plan now to get back to your local polling station by 10pm!” the Electoral Commission said on Twitter, as crowds of frustrated commuters struggled with train cancellations.

Among those affected was former London mayor Boris Johnson, a leading voice in the Leave campaign, who cast his vote with just 25 minutes to spare after returning to the capital from his daughter's graduation in Scotland.

“Let's see, let's see. It's in the hands of the people now,” he said when asked how he felt about the vote.

CAMERON'S FATE

The Leave campaign focused on warnings that Britain would be unable to control immigration levels as long as it was an EU member. Remain said a Brexit would cause economic chaos, impoverish the nation and reduce its clout on the world stage.

The killing of pro-EU lawmaker Jo Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two who was shot and stabbed on a street in her electoral district in northern England a week ago, prompted soul-searching about the vicious tone of the campaign.

Her suspected murderer told a court his name was “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. Campaigning was suspended for three days out of respect for Cox, resuming on Sunday.

An Ipsos MORI poll for the Evening Standard newspaper found support for Remain on 52 percent and Leave on 48 percent. A Populus poll put Remain 10 points ahead on 55 percent. Both were conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday and published on Thursday.

Cameron called the vote in 2013 under pressure from the rebellious anti-EU wing of his Conservative Party and the surging UK Independence Party (UKIP), hoping to end decades of debate over Britain's ties with Europe.

Unless Remain wins by a wide margin, he could struggle to repair the rifts in his party and hold on to his job. He has said he would stay in office but in the event of a vote to leave he is likely to face calls to resign.

Johnson is the bookmakers' favourite to replace him.

A Brexit could also cause the United Kingdom to break up because Scotland, where sentiment towards the EU is much more positive than in England, could hold an independence referendum if it was being dragged out of the EU against its will. Scots voted by 55 to 45 percent against independence in 2014.

OBAMA V TRUMP

After months of non-stop tit-for-tat confrontation between the sides, any substantive debate was over on Thursday. Due to legal restrictions, there were no large-scale campaign events and no television programmes rehearsing the arguments.

Traders, investors and companies were braced for volatility on financial markets whatever the outcome of a vote that has both reflected, and fuelled, an anti-establishment mood also seen in the United States and elsewhere in Europe.

Britain is divided on EU membership along broad age and education lines, polls show. Older and less educated voters tend to favour exit and younger voters and those with higher levels of education lean towards staying.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, the focus on immigration to Britain, which has increased dramatically in recent years, could worsen frictions in a country where the gap between rich and poor has also been widening.

Foreign leaders, from U.S. President Barack Obama to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, have called on Britain to remain in the EU, a message supported by global financial organisations, many company bosses and central bankers.

International banks have warned that the value of the pound could fall dramatically if Britain votes to leave and traders expect markets to be more volatile than at any time since the 2008-9 financial crisis.

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