Ed Miliband was proud to announce recently at an event in central London attended by around 300 people his support for Israel and his pledge to protect Jewish customs including shechita (the ritual slaughter of animals -similar to the Muslim HALAL) if he becomes Prime Minister.
His speech was at a Board of Deputies of British Jews event. The leader of the opposition answered a range of questions on topics including immigration, education, housing, employment, and the Israeli elections.
Asked whether he would work to ensure that religious slaughter of animals could continue in Britain, Mr Miliband said: “Yes, these are important traditions. The kosher issue must be preserved.” In giving this answer Mr Miliband pandered to his audience. We in Third Way would argue that a ban on ritual slaughter of animals is needed. There is no need for anyone to go against their religion in this as they can choose a vegetarian diet if they don’t wish to eat meat that is not killed without pre-stunning. In fact increasing number of Jews feel vegetarianism goes hand in hand with the Jewish concept of tikkun olam — repairing the world.
Miliband rejected the growing pressure from many within the Labour movement for a boycott of Israel. “I think the boycotts of Israel are totally wrong. We should have no tolerance for boycotts. I would say that to any trade union leaders,” he said.
Miliband emphasised his personal Jewish heritage. “I have huge respect, admiration and indeed a debt, not just to Britain, but to Israel for the sanctuary it gave my grandmother – Israel gave her comfort.” Oddly he did not mention his father Ralph Miliband who was a confirmed Zionist. Ralph in correspondence with a Belgian socialist, Marcel Liebman,said that his kind of socialism did not preclude recognition of Jewish identity. “What right do the Jews have to be in Palestine… Their right stems from the fact that the world is what it is”. Miliband Jnr could also have mentioned that his Father joined Hashomer Hatzair, a left-wing Zionist group at the age of just 15.
Asked at the event whether he was a Zionist Miliband reportedly responded, “Yes, I am a supporter of Israel”.
This was taken as a ‘Yes’ at the event. If this was his answer Miliband needs a short history lesson on what his proclamation on being a Zionist means to some of our older British folk.
Some don’t forget the Zionist attacks on British people. We remember that in July 26, 1946 the British administrative headquarters at the King David Hotel, killed 91 people — 28 of whom were British. Around 45 people were injured.
We also remember what happened on July 25, 1947 and became known as ‘The Sergeants Affair’. Zionists kidnapped Sgt. Clifford Martin and Sgt. Mervyn Paice and killed them. Their bodies were taken to an orange grove and left hanging by the neck from trees. An Improvised Explosive Device was set. This went off when one of the bodies was cut down, seriously wounding a British officer.
Perhaps this might be part of the reason just 24 hours later a new spin was being put on his words? You might hope so but it was probably the vision of all those disappearing Muslim votes for Labour! His office were putting it out that his response had been misinterpreted. It was suggested that “he wasn’t using the word Zionist to describe himself, but merely reaffirming his strong support for the state of Israel”.
Ed also attacked Iran repeating the US mantra and threat that “nothing was off the table”. This warmongering is now expected of Labour leaders.
More confusing is that Miliband claims to simultaneously support the Palestinians! When asked about Labour’s support for the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, Mr Miliband said he wanted to encourage Palestinians. The politician made repeated reference to his support for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict and said he hoped Britain could be an “broker” in the process. Whether any Palestinians would be foolish enough to have any dealings with the confused or opportunistic Ed is another matter! We certainly wouldn’t advise it! Nor, sadly, does it appear that a two-State solution is even a remote possibility anymore. That window of opportunity appears to have closed some years back. Surely Ed knows that?
I don’t believe the ‘two-state’ solution is dead at all. The Palestinians have a ‘state’ based on the West Bank. Sure it is not universally recognised, it is poor and economically weak, it is divided both physically and politically, it is vulnerable to Israeli intervention etc, but it does exist. What else is there? A ‘Greater Israel’ or a war of ‘destruction’ against it? Neither is palatable or likely. Israel is an historical and, like the Falklands, a defacto reality. Palestine the same. There needs to be a workable settlement otherwise the region faces perptual conflict or worse!