Activists and human rights workers are lamenting the loss of British Labour MP Helen Joanne “Jo” Cox, after she was was attacked and killed by a man believed to be a radical right winger with Neo-Nazi sympathies. But her loss enacts a particularly strong blow for Syrian and Palestinian activists considering her outspoken support for humanitarian issues in the Middle East.
“Cox was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian people’s right to a state and a fierce critic of Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza, where she had visited,” Anshel Pfefferwrote in Ha’aretz. “Supporters of the Palestinian cause in Britain in the name of human rights, are often derided as being single-issue activists who only criticize Israel’s record and that of America and its allies. Cox couldn’t be accused of that.”
During her time in parliament and before that with Oxfam, Cox regularly spoke out against and tried to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
— Jo Cox MP (@Jo_Cox1) August 6, 2014
On Syria, she also championed refugee rights, advocating for the acceptance of 3,000 unaccompanied children refugees from Syria. She also delivered an impassioned speech in parliament that called on the UK to team up with other EU nations to air drop food supplies to besieged areas of Syria and to protect Syrian civilians.
“She was just as vocal in her condemnation of the Assad regime for continuing bloodshed in Syria, its Russian ally, as well as Turkey and Saudi Arabia for arming and supporting Islamist rebels,” wrote Pfeffer. “She began a recent speech in parliament, in which she lambasted her own government and the Obama administration for failing to challenge Assad and the Russians, by saying that ‘at the end of this short debate, another two Syrian civilians will be dead’. Calling for British intervention on behalf of the Syrian people, not just against ISIS, has become an unfashionable view both on the left and the right of British politics.”
Cox’s humanitarian positions that favored protecting civilian life left her with numerous mourners.
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But not only activists lamented her passing. Syrians inside war torn Syria, such as the volunteer Syrian Civil Defense force known as the White Helmets, directly marked her death as a loss for their people.
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) June 16, 2016
“It is quite surprising to see Syrians, from inside Syria, in a war-torn country, with limited access in a lot of its places to the outside world, tweeting and talking about a British MP who is half way across the world,” BBC Arabic social media producer Nader Ibrahim said. “This is especially because a lot of Syrians feel like they’ve been let down by the West and the international community for not taking enough action to stop the war in their country. So to see them mourning a western MP is quite a thing.”