Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

So Ed Miliband’s Jewish. Big Deal – so was Karl Marx!

Anybody who imagines that Ed Miliband’s Jewishness presages a warm touchy-feely attitude towards Israel is inevitably bound for disappointment. The Miliband brothers were raised by parents who to all intents and purposes appear to fit Isaac Deutscher’s blueprint of the politically radical “non-Jewish Jew”. Karl Marx was one such. So was Rosa Luxemburg. (You get the picture.)

Ralph Miliband, Ed and David's father, was a prominent Marxist economist and intellectual. Knowing that, and being fully aware that his mother, Marion Kozak, is a longstanding member of the organisation Jews for Justice for Palestinians, which has made some dodgy moves in its time (not least organising the latest seaborne attempt to break the Gaza blockade), I for one did not expect that Ed would prove any more sympathetic to Israel than did big brother David when he was Foreign Secretary.  And since Ed owes his extraordinary projection into the Labour Party’s top job to his buddies the trades union leaders (most Labour MPs voted for David) I’m not surprised that he seems even harsher towards Israel than David did. After all, many of the unions are hell-bent on boycotting Israel these days.

So when I read what the man widely dubbed "Red Ed" has been saying about Israel in a speech to the party faithful and in a radio interview I just shrugged my shoulders and muttered “So what else is new?”

What did Ed tell those audiences? That he’s an atheist. Yep. Figures. It fits the mould. That faith schools are “fantastic”. Ha! Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? (Wink, wink.) That when asked whether he supports the Palestinians’ so-called right of return he gave a non-commital answer: “It depends which parts of the land and which borders and I’m not going to prejudge that.” Par for the course. That he added: “ It’s important we do what we can to facilitate peace in the Middle East. I think what we need to work towards is a two-state solution and a two-state solution must involve Israel and the Palestinians getting together and reaching an agreement, I’m not going to pre-judge what that agreement should be.” No surprises there either. And that he declared “I will always defend the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. But Israel must accept and recognize in its actions the Palestinian right to statehood. That is why the attack on the Gaza Flotilla was so wrong. And that is why the Gaza blockade must be lifted and we must strain every sinew to work to make that happen." None there either – though his failure to acknowledge the Qassam rocket attacks that Israel has had to endure from Hamastan is an ominous twist.

Not to worry too much. At least, not yet. For there’s one consolation in all this – that the uncharismatic nasal-voiced Ed faces an uphill and probably impossible struggle in his quest for the keys of Number Ten Downing Street.

In the meantime, those who make much of the fact that he is the Labour Party’s “first Jewish leader” and like to keep a tally of such things will have to console themselves with the fact that Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan had a paternal Jewish grandmother, a Miss Bernstein. That the philosemitic George Lansbury, who led the Labour Party between the wars, had a Jewish daughter-in-law, Minnie Glassman (whom I mentioned in one of my earliest posts). That Hugh Gaitskell, who led the party from 1955-63, had a Jewish wife, Dora Creditor, who became a life peer, and was – I’m happy to say – strongly pro-Israel. And that Gaitskell’s colourful, oft-inebriated deputy, George Brown, was – although he ran off with his secretary after 45 years of marriage – also wed to a Jewish wife, Sophie Levene.


  1. Why are you so concerned with who is Jewish? It's the politicians' policies that count, surely?

  2. i think his brother David is sticking around on the back benches because he expects Ed to mess up and in about a year the party will be gagging for him to lead it - Red Ed will be out on his heels

  3. I agree, John, but the "Jewish Chronicle" has trumpeted that he's the first Jewish leader of the Labour Party. It's natural for minorities to be interested in their members who have climbed to the top of the greasypole. I just don't think there's much cause for celebration as far as Ed's attitude to Israel is concerned, though.

  4. This speaks volumes about Miliband:

    Newly-elected Labour leader speaks at Friends of Palestine fringe event
    Thursday, 30 September 2010 15:05 Samira Quraishy

    This Labour Party conference has hosted three fringe events on Palestine, which were all well attended: a joint Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and LFPME fringe, with journalist Michael White interviewing long standing Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufmann; a joint PSC, Unite the Union and LFPME event on Gaza, with special guest speaker MK Haneen Zoabi and speeches from Richard Burden MP and Andy Slaughter MP; and the joint LFPME and Friends of Al-Aqsa reception. At the latter event, the newly-elected Labour leader, Ed Miliband, shared the platform with seasoned campaigners for Palestine and former MP and Director of LFPME, Martin Linton. Mr. Miliband paid homage to the dedicated activists who have been working for the rights of the Palestinian people. He gave specific mentions for Richard Burden MP, Andy Slaughter MP and Martin Linton (former MP) who have been campaigning for the Palestinians for many years.

    The Labour leader's speech, though short, was enough for Palestinian supporters and the few pro-Israelis in the crowd to realise that a new leader with fresh new policies and outlook on the future of the Middle East was present, giving hope that perhaps the cycle of bias in favour of the Zionist state of Israel is over.
    Mr. Miliband said that the "cause" [of Palestine] and the situation it was in now was due to "much unfinished business" of the Labour government and the international community; "We have to do everything we can now in opposition and hopefully as soon as possible back in government, to push forward the cause of a settlement for the Middle East and the rights of the Palestinian people [sic]." He blamed the mistakes of the previous Labour government not on their "fantastic" foreign policy but on the core "values" of the Labour Party being ignored. He went further to say that this cause demanded that Labour follow its values and "that we speak with a clear voice as a United Kingdom about the Gaza blockade, about the attack on the Gaza Flotilla [sic]."
    For the rest see:

  5. Thanks, Anon!
    Burden, Slaughter and Linton (the latter being no longer an MP, having lost his seat in May) are three of the most extreme anti-Israel Labour Party bigwigs. It was Linton who made the notorious antisemitic-style slur on Israel's supporters, talking about "tentacles" and money.
    Shame on Miliband!

  6. Red Milibands election brought letter writing slime out from under the woodpile. The Guardian, Thursday 7 October 2010
    we welcome Ed Miliband's statement that Labour's foreign policy should be "based on values, not just alliances" (Leader's speech, 29 September). For too long Britain has blindly followed the US in supporting Israel, right or wrong. There is one, immediate decision Ed Miliband can make which will show that these are not empty words. Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were patrons of the Jewish National Fund. We urge Ed Miliband to break from this tradition.
    The JNF is actively complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. For example, it established the Canada Park in the West Bank on the ruins of the villages of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba. Today in Israel's Negev region it plays a major role in the establishment of exclusively Jewish settlements and the demolition of "unrecognised" Arab villages.
    The JNF was founded in 1901 with the aim of purchasing land "for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties". To this day it refuses to lease or rent land to anyone who is not Jewish. In 1953 and 1961, Israeli legislation made the JNF responsible for the land allocation policies of the state itself. In 1995 the Israeli supreme court, in the Ka'adan case, ruled that the JNF's partner, the Israeli Lands Administration, could no longer discriminate against Israeli Arabs by refusing to lease or rent state lands to them. This was held to be equally applicable to the JNF. The response of the JNF was that Israel was first and foremost a Jewish state not a state of its own citizens. Ed Miliband stood as the candidate of change in the Labour party. Now is the time to show that these weren't just words of spin.

    Tony Greenstein

    Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

    Emeritus Professor Moshe Machover

    Michael Mansfield QC

    Dr Chris Burns Cox

    Professor David Pegg,

    Leon Rosselson

    Dr Sue Blackwell

    Pete Firmin,

    Abe Hayeem

    Professor Myriam Salama-Carr,

    Dr Rumy Hasan

    Roland Rance

    Dr Monica Wusterman

    Deborah Fink

    Jackie Alsaid

    Ken Baker St Jerome Publishing

    Professor Mona Baker

    David Bangs

    Dr Judith Brown

    Ruth Clark

    Adam Darwish

    James Dickins

    Greg Dropkin

    Jackie Fearnley

    Alf Filer

    Naomi Foyle Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign

    Kenny Fryde

    Terry Gallogly

    Anne Gray

    Cliff Hanley

    Rosamine Hayeem

    Bob Jarrett

    Ros Levy

    Kevin Moore

    Beryl Maizells

    Zoe Mars Chair, Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign

    John Metson

    Safiya O'Donnell

    Nicola Ostreicher

    Ernesto Paramo

    Dinah Rahman

    Roger Reeve

    Professor Dee Reynolds

    Michael Sackin

    Miriam Scharf East London NUT

    Michael Shanahan

    Ruth Tenne Israeli Human Rights Activist

    Yvette Vanson

  7. Quite a rogue's gallery of extreme Israel-haters on that list of signatories, Shomer. If you haven't already done so, look at CiF Watch, which did a terrific demolition of that letter on the day it appeared in Al Grauniad.