Brexit could leave Jews of Gi­bral­tar on rocky ground

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

THE JEWISH com­mu­nity of Gi­bral­tar feels “fear and trep­i­da­tion” over its fu­ture af­ter the ter­ri­tory be­came em­broiled in a ma­jor dis­pute fol­low­ing Theresa May’s trig­ger­ing of the process for Bri­tain to leave the Euro­pean Union.

A row over the Bri­tish over­seas ter­ri­tory be­gan af­ter the Euro­pean Coun­cil said Gi­bral­tar could only join trade dis­cus­sions be­tween Lon­don and Brus­sels with Spain’s agree­ment.

For­mer Con­ser­va­tive leader Michael Howard sug­gested on Sun­day that Mrs May would be pre­pared to go to war to pro­tect the ter­ri­tory — com­par­ing it to Baroness Thatcher de­fend­ing the Falk­lands in the 1980s.

There are around 800 Jews in Gi­bral­tar; the ter­ri­tory is home to 30,000 peo­ple.

Rabbi Ra­phy Gar­son, of El­stree Fed­er­a­tion Sy­n­a­gogue, who was born in Man­ches­ter and brought up in Gi­bral­tar, said con­cern about the fu­ture of his “home­land” had grown since the EU ref­er­en­dum last year.

“Peo­ple are wor­ried about their fu­tures. I grew up there with a bor­der that was closed and it wasn’t very pleas­ant. And there has been a gen­uine fear that this could again be­come a re­al­ity,” he said.

Rabbi Gar­son said his Gi­bral­tar­ian Gi­bral­tar could be­come a key bat­tle­ground in the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions

rel­a­tives, who are proudly Bri­tish, had been ap­ply­ing for pass­ports from EU coun­tries.

“My grand­mother was born in Lis­bon, so my un­cle now has a Por­tuguese pass­port. The mood of the peo­ple is one of the un­known, it is of trep­i­da­tion and it is of fear.”

Sarah Sack­man, a Labour can­di­date in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion, crit­i­cised what she called un­wel­come “sabre-rat­tling on all sides” of the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ms Sack­man’s grand­fa­ther, a busi­ness­man from Gi­bral­tar, served as a govern­ment min­is­ter and her mother, who runs the fam­ily cos­metic busi­ness, splits her time be­tween Lon­don and the ter­ri­tory.

Ms Sack­man said: “It is pleas­ing to see the calmer, more re­flec­tive tone from both the Bri­tish and Span­ish gov­ern­ments since the week­end.

“Gi­bral­tar’s over­whelm­ing vote to re­main in the EU was a vote not only to en­sure its own pros­per­ity and the rights of Gi­bral­tar­i­ans, but it was also aimed at pro­tect­ing the well-be­ing of the thou­sands of Spa­niards who travel across the bor­der to work on the Rock ev­ery day.”

Rabbi Gar­son agreed. He said: “Just on the other

Sarah Sack­man

side of Gi­bral­tar you have a not very flourishing Span­ish city. It is very poor and has lots of coun­cil houses.

“A lot of the res­i­dents pass the bor­der ev­ery day and they get their liveli­hood from Gi­bral­tar.”

Mar­lene Has­san-Na­hon, a Jewish In­de­pen­dent MP in Gi­bral­tar, said she was not sur­prised it had be­come “a thorn in the side of the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tion”. Ms Has­san-Na­hon said: “While I have been en­cour­aged by the re­sponse from Theresa May’s govern­ment, I am none­the­less con­cerned that sovereignty seems to have been the main pre­oc­cu­pa­tion.

“It is im­por­tant to be level-headed and avoid provoca­tive as­so­ci­a­tions with the war in 1982.”

Gi­bral­tar, sit­u­ated on the south­ern tip of the Ibe­rian Penin­sula, be­lieves it has the right of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, some­thing Spain dis­putes.

In 2002 Gi­bral­tar­i­ans over­whelm­ingly re­jected a vote on the idea of Bri­tain and Spain shar­ing sovereignty. Both sides have com­plained about in­tru­sions on fish­ing ar­eas, while Spain has ac­cused Gi­bral­tar of be­ing a tax haven, al­low­ing the wealthy to avoid pay­ing mil­lions.

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: PA

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