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Ed Miliband's Convenient, Part-Time, Cowardly, Zionism

8 March 2013

2:45 PM

8 March 2013

2:45 PM

For a few hours this morning it looked as though Ed Miliband might do something uncharacteristically courageous. The Jewish Chronicle reported that the Labour leader had described himself as a Zionist at a meeting organised by the Board of Deputies. It may be sad that this would need to be considered, as Dan Hodges put it, ‘a brave and welcome statement’ but that’s the modern British left for you.

Mr Hodges wondered if Miliband would ‘stand by’ this statement. His scepticism was sensible. And sure enough, word comes that Miliband’s views have been ‘misinterpreted’ by the Jewish Chronicle. As Hodges relates the story:

‘Asked at the event whether he was a Zionist Miliband reportedly responded, “Yes, I am a supporter of Israel”. But I’m told he wasn’t using the word Zionist to describe himself, but merely reaffirming his strong support for the state of Israel, and warning that we should – in the words of a Labour source – be “intolerant of those who questions Israel’s right to exist”.’

In other words, Miliband wants British Jews (and others) to know that he supports Israel but he doesn’t want to be considered a Zionist. Well, half a cake is better than no cake, I suppose.

It was pleasing to discover that, unlike much of his party, Miliband opposes boycotting Israel. That’s welcome too.

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Nevertheless, it remains regrettable that he cannot or will not or chooses not to describe himself as a Zionist. Words are supposed to have meaning and by declining to badge himself a Zionist Miliband, wittingly or not, cedes the field to those people (on the right as well as the left) for whom the label ‘anti-Zionist’ has become a convenient semantic shield.

A reminder: Zionism has a clear and particular meaning. It was, originally, the movement to secure a Jewish homeland. To be a Zionist today is to be someone who supports the right of that homeland to exist and to think that it needs to be defended against its enemies. That is all.

There is no contradiction – none – between being a Zionist and deploring some, or even all, the policies pursued by the Israeli government. There is no requirement for Zionists to support the idea of a Greater Israel. None at all. Indeed, many do not.

But “Zionist” has become a useful substitute for “Jew“. You know how it goes: There’s nothing anti-semitic about being anti-Zionist, I’m not anti-semitic I just deplore Zionism. Some of my best chums are Jewish blah, blah, blah. Perhaps not, though one can’t avoid observing that all anti-semites are also anti-Zionists.

I suspect Miliband was happy for his Jewish audience to understand that, in the dry, technical, accurate definition of Zionism he is indeed a Zionist. That is, he supports Israel’s right to exist. But I also think, as this afternoon’s back-pedal demonstrates, he also wants the broader left to understand that he’s not a Zionist in the way much of the Labour party understands the term. Me, a Zionist? I mean, come on!

Which is unfortunate because it allows the anti-Israel brigade to capture language to which they have no right. The language of “Anti-Zionism” is frequently a form of camouflage disguising rather deeper, darker, ranker sentiments. It softens the prejudice, making it seem more respectable than it frequently is.

Reclaiming the definition of Zionism, then, is a means of clarifying matters. I suspect Miliband, an intelligent fellow after all, knows the real meaning of the word. Which makes it regrettable that he’s so quick to disassociate himself from it. He is a Zionist and he should be happy to say so. Instead we see a mildly craven capitulation to anti-Israeli sentiment on the left as Miliband effectively declares: I am a Zionist but I have no intention of declaring myself such because so many of you fail, deliberately or not, to understand or respect the meaning of the term. I have neither the courage of my convictions, nor the inclination to challenge your prejudices. 

Truly, a profile in courage!

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Show comments
  • http://vitamind3info.blogspot.com/ Adrian

    Of course he’s a Zionist, and who could object to the Jews having a homeland. It’s just a shame it had to be stolen from the Palestinians, and ever more shameful that we British drafted the deal with the Balfour treaty. Over the decades that treaty has cost the lives of millions and could trigger WWIII.

  • John Edwards

    Ed Miliband was right to dodge this question and the attempt to co-opt him. He is a much underestimated politician who if the polls are right is on course to become our next Prime Minister.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TH999 Terence Hill

    Nice to know one can be a Zionist and still hate the Jews, or is it the other way around?

  • john

    The UK has no particular interest in Israel. Israel has absolutely failed to make peace with its neighbours and Arab residents of Palestine. Sooner or later the situation will turn sharply against the Israelis and the UK and US must not be mindlessly dragged into the chaos that will probably ensue.

    • jjjj

      This comment appears to have been written by a robot. Press TV must be getting desperate.

      • john

        What’s press TV?

        • jjjj

          Google it.

    • http://twitter.com/MacBoyUK Philip

      Yes – of course – it’s such a small step to make peace with 400 million neighbours, 100% of whom think you are ‘apes and pigs’ and wish to annihilate you and your children.

      Some of these people prove this every day by launching missiles at you; the rest do so by paying for them.

      • john

        Precisely my point. Either Israel finds a way to make peace or its future will be grim.

        • http://twitter.com/MacBoyUK Philip

          So you’re suggesting what? That it’s down to Israel to try and make peace with people like this? You’ve already admitted that the Arabs won’t. So what do you suggest – submission to Sharia?

          • john

            History is full of examples of hated adversaries working something out. China and Japan, Germany and Soviet Union, the Middle East prior to the creation of Israel. Israel has decided to be the strong man of the region (thank you, USA) and aggressively expand territory. Less aggression and more negotiation would probably achieve some worthwhile results – eg Egypt treaty, Camp David Accords. There is no other way in the long run.

            • http://twitter.com/MacBoyUK Philip

              Your head’s in the sand. You have an entirely one-sided view of this pure situation, choosing to ignore the hatred and violence emanating from the Arab side and conflating Israel’s understandable defensiveness with ‘agression’.

              If someone had fired 6000 rockets at me other the past few years, I’d be pretty agressive too.

              • john

                Not at all. Israel cannot survive indefinitely on a miltary basis. How long before Hezbollah etc get rockets capable of doing real damage? A year? Israel is too small and vulnerable to be defensible against a determined and well-equipped opponent, BTW The ratio of Palestinian/israel deaths from wars is about 12:1.

                • http://twitter.com/MacBoyUK Philip

                  The ratio is completely meaningless – signifying nothing except perhaps to highlight the much higher ratio of aggressors and their sometimes (but not always) haphazard methods.

                  Your blinkered denialism is just digging you into a deeper hole.

                • jjjj

                  Israel cannot survive indefinitely? Show me one country in the world today that it can be said about it that it will survive indefinitely. Due to demographics Europe will not survive indefinitely in its current form. Due to nuclear proliferation the whole world may not survive indefinitely. And unless you believe in an afterlife so we will not survive so.

            • jjjj

              The fact that you mention in passing the Egypt treaty and Camp David gives lie to your previous post where you said Israel has absolutely failed to make peace with its neighbours. You aren’t really arguing in good faith here but it’s all tactical with you.

              • john

                Not so. Of course Israel has entered many negotiations with its neighbours – my comment was that it has failed to make peace. Occasional peace discussions have not produced peace,

                • jjjj

                  Sigh…once again: Israel not only ‘entered into negotiations with its neighbours’ it signed peace treaties with them. I will add the peace treaty with Jordan which you failed to mention in your previous posts because it would have interfered with your narrative.
                  When it signed the peace treaty with Egypt it returned all of the Sinai (the whole area) from which Egypt had waged war on Israel. Israel gave back bases, oilfields and tourist areas which it had developed.
                  So the peace turns cold with Jordan and Egypt because of the rise of Islamists due to internal problems in those countries, you blame Israel? You don’t really know much about the ME. If you did you would know that Britain has as much a stake in preserving the Hashemite kingdom as Israel has. So your talk of the UK and the US getting involved because of Israel is disengenous,
                  If I thought you were arguing in good faith out of concern for Israel’ security and wellbeing then I would add more as to what Israel should do.

  • andagain

    one can’t avoid observing that all anti-semites are also anti-Zionists

    I’m told that Hitler could be quite pro-Zionist. After all, if all the Jews were in Israel, they would not be in the Third Reich. You can say this is dead politics, but people are happy to drag the Grand Mufti into it, and he has been dead for quite some time.

    • Jambo25

      Some of the Nazis also quite liked the idea of sending Jews to Madagascar, Central Africa or Western Siberia and when all these possibilities evaporated decided jut to mass murder them. Not really Zionism: was it?

      As for the Grand Mufti: he just didn’t like Jews. Apparently his violent anti-Semitism shocked even some Nazis in the early days although they came round to seeing merit in his ideas once they began to mass murder the Jews of Europe. He was active in recruiting Balkan Muslims to join SS units which then had a jolly time murdering Jews and Yugoslav partisans. He was also a relative of Yasser Arafat (Uncle or cousin, I think.).

    • jjjj

      ‘I’m told…’ Lol! Note the moronically banal introduction to this example of a post from someone who has no clue.

    • http://twitter.com/MacBoyUK Philip

      Haj Amin al-Husseini was fully implicated in the Holocaust – in both word and deed.

  • margaret benjamin

    We know Ed Miliband is Jewish as is his brother. there grandparents atheists. that’s the way they were brought up.When actually they have a rich heritage. All this talk about Zionists Yes I am and proud of it. to me its a step to far to be campaigning in one of the Gaza flotilla boats what exactly are these Marxists apart from the obvious trying to prove.Why would you deny your ancestry then just to prove it support the Palestinian cause.Hamas in Gaza are part of the Islamist Group The Muslim Brotherhood .also a thorn in Israels side. Over the years Zionist has meant slightly different things, one time many years ago a teacher from Jerusalem told me it was In the Beginning G-d…….. the orthodox Jews in Israel are totally rapped up in Jerusalem and Judaism and the rebuilding of the third Temple. It is their historic and biblical ancestral homeland. Its nice to see Ed supports Israel,so he should this country is full of anti semites amongst the Asian communities with a melting pot of middle eastern religions totally opposed to Israel and its right to exist. well this country is Christian has been for hundreds of years,so Islam should not seek to dominate the UK by Sharia law or building on it with their religion that is foreign to English folk. If Mr Ed Miliband stands up for his people Israel then I believe G-d will honour him, in many ways.Shalom.

    • Grrr8

      Have u discussed your views on Jesus w/ your rabbi? We want to know how you get on.

      • margaret benjamin

        You still here Looser

        • Chris Morriss

          Perhaps you also are a great supporter of Israel’s own SS: Mossad?

          • margaret benjamin

            Jewish

          • jjjj

            From your handle I would suggest that you are the one obsessed with the SS.

            • http://twitter.com/MacBoyUK Philip

              and yet you’re the one with ‘SS’ stuck at the end of your surname :)

          • FMarion

            Chris:
            Let’s see, the regular SS organized the Holocaust, arranged for the extermination camps, provided most of the manpower for the execution squads in Poland and the Soviet Union, was–under the RHSA, which was run by SS officers–responsible for most of the massacres in National Socialist occupied Europe, while the Waffen SS committed almost every single large-scale atrocity committed by German fighting forces (including deliberate massacres of Canadian, British and US POWs). The SS was directly responsible for the murder of at least 10 million people. My uncle had the great good fortune to be in an SS-run POW camp–their diet and exercise program was guaranteed to take off weight fast!
            Mossad, which is primarily an intelligence-gathering agency, also captured Eichmann (of which I presume you approve) and has conducted various “wars” with Arab and Palestinian intelligence services. No matter what bad things you think Mossad has done, do you really think it is remotely comparable to the SS?

    • Chris Morriss

      Please learn how to write in clear and concise (or even basic) English before your next rant. Pretty please?

      • margaret benjamin

        What would I do without the likes of you Jackass.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Doesn’t take much to smoke out the heirs to A**** does it Chrissy boy?

  • http://twitter.com/Waltroon Walter Ellis

    “To be a Zionist today is to be someone who supports the right of that
    homeland to exist and to think that it needs to be defended against its
    enemies. That is all.”

    That is not all, Alex. I support the right of Israel to exist. I wish its people to be free to lead peaceful and productive lives. But I am not a Zionist, which to me connotes a great deal more. In the same way, I believe in the right of the Palestinian people to exist freely in the lands of their birth. But I am not a supporter of Hamas.

  • Grrr8

    I’m struggling to not think “who gives a toss”? Being or not being a Zionist doesn’t come very high on my list of qualifications for PM of the UK.

    • jjjj

      You gave enough off a toss to waste a few seconds and post here. You could have moved to another piece. Probably very easily riled, poor fellow/lady.

  • fitz fitzgerald

    Fans of Hobsbawm tend not to be ardent … zionists.

  • victor67

    Declaring yourself a Zionist affiliates you with an ideology whose narrative has systematically and continously denied the crimes and sufferings inflicted on the indigenous Palestinian people by the “neccessity” of a jewish homeland. No liberal or left wing politician could embrace such a cause and still remain true to their ideals.

    While the idea of a safe haven for jews seemed a noble enterprise 60 years ago ,the terrible consequences for the Palestinian arabs will always taint Zionism. Like South Africa their can be no peace until Israel faces up to its brutality and seeks a path of reconciliation with the Palestinian people.

    Miliband knows this and thats why he backtracked.

    • jjjj

      I’m the clown Beppe Grillo and I approved of this message.

    • Daniel Maris

      Don’t you think that the Palestinian cause was tainted by the Grand Mufti giving advice to Hitler on mass extermination of the Jews? Or doesn’t that count for some reason?

      • victor67

        So the Mufti sought common cause with the nazi’s in a similar way that Irish republicans did. That does not make them Nazi’s . Its the adage of my enemies enemy. The arabs new fairly early on the Zionists wanted their land.
        Even Zionists like Jabotinsky and Stern tried to do a deal with the Nazis to allow jewish immigration to mandate Palestine and not to to US and UK in return for fighting the British in North Africa. So your hero’s danced with the devil as well.

        • margaret benjamin

          Israel has always had Jewish community,the grand mufti did try to get rid of the Jews.the land does not belong to any other group especially the Palestinians its been occupied even by the turks,Hashamite kingdom, Jordan, the pals are made up of a few different groups,but the land does not belong to them.

          • victor67

            Are you saying they did not inhabit mandate Palestine or just that they did not rule over the land?

            • margaret benjamin

              To understand any of this you have to keep in mind the name Palestine. given by the Romans as far back as 70ad after they burned all Jerusalem including the Temple and the Jews were driven out of their land. Diaspora/ Josephus / lots written Josephus the historian watched Jerusalem burn later moved to Rome.So if you like it was dubbed Palestine by the romans nothing to do with a group of people called Palestinians they simply did not exist by this time the philistines were not even in existence.

              • margaret benjamin

                They did not rule over it. the Turks ruled over all those lands as you know it was known as trans- Jordan ruled by the Hashemite tribe who are Jordanians. Mark Twain gave a good description of the land just how barren it was,It was Israel who cultivated the land and turned it into an oasis not any other group who may have occupied the land of Palestine. So the name was changed as iv explained but its never ceased to be Judea Samaria ect. the west bank today is Judea and Samaria named by the Jordanians. that’s who the Palestinians are!! they have all occupied the land Britons were the first Zionists they saw from bible prophecy about the jews returning to their land and built the first church in Jerusalem. Even Lord Balfour knew that because of the fighting by the Arab Briton divided the land giving most of it to the arabs who were complaining. that was a huge mistake.Israel was attacked by five arab armies but prevailed. 60% of Jordanians are Palestinians and visa versa they are one and the same.they wont admit it is. A now Christian man living in the US was born in Bethlehem had a Jordanian passport then the following day when Israel moved in they were issued with Palestinian passports.

          • Grrr8

            The usual revisionist rubbish. The Jews inhabitants pre 1948 (how many and for how long is unknown; the bible is not exactly historical “proof”) were Sephardic jews, Arabs by blood, and a minority amongst a broader Arab muslim majority. They were not Ashkenazic jews who were foreigners who founded the state of Israel, an imposition on the land birthed by colonial foreign offices.

            • margaret benjamin

              Wrong! you really are a moron,Im talking about the land, Im not interested in your bias opinion neither am I talking about Tribes. You only think you know. You have an opinion on everything but you cant always be right here your wrong spouting off your dislikes as if anyone is remotely interested in you. I was not addressing you as you well know your just prejudice anyway .

            • FMarion

              Grrr8: A few corrections. While most of the Jewish inhabitants of “Palestine” before the 20th century were Sephardic, not all were–some were indeed Ashkenazi migrants. Nor are the Sephardim “Arabs by blood”–like Ashkenazis, they appear to be mainly descendants from the ancient Hebrews. Of course, Arabs and Jews are both semites–they are essentially cousins–and the Sephardim mainly spoke Arabic, though some spoke Turkish, Ladino, Berber and other languages. (The label, “Sephardim” itself is overinclusive–it started out as a description of Jews whose ancestors had left or been exiled from Spain, but today includes many whose ancestors never got near Spain).
              The Ashkenazi started arriving long before 1948, and were, I believe, a majority of the Jews then (many Sephardim arrived after the creation of Israel from places like Morrocco and Yemen). Colonial foreign offices occasionally allowed it, but were not responsible for it.
              As for the Ashkenazi being an “imposition,” pre-1948 they bought their land, first when it was under Turkish rule, then when it was a mandate. The land was relatively de-populated (the Ottomans were quite good at depopulating places) and many of the “Palestinians” (which is a modern description of Arabs who live in Israel or land that it controls) are in fact recent migrants from places like northern Arabia and the like.

              • Grrr8

                Thoughtful response, cheers. One thing to clarify – I do not mean that the presence of Ashkenazic jews on the land is an imposition. After all, I’m a believer in relatively open borders (to much frothing at the lips around here). The imposition is strictly referring to the imposition of a state controlled by Ashkenazic jews, for them and fought for by them, ironically, via means which were then called “terrorism”.
                Re: your point on the ethnic origins of the Sephardi, I wonder how someone can scientifically link this back to the ancient hebrews but I’ll take your word for it.
                Re: de-population etc. and the Arab population, you again maybe correct (by recent I assume you mean in the 100 yrs before 1948). But there is no disputing that they were broadly in the majority (if you include the east bank of the Jordan), they have a historical claim to Jerusalem that is at least as strong as the Jews if not stronger, and they certainly did not accept the imposition of a European nation amongst them.
                The biggest irony here is that scripturally I believe that the Jews are to wait for the arrival of the messiah to have a state. Before that they should remain as a loyal minority in the states they live in. I’m no expert on scripture so its just a passing thought.

                • FMarion

                  Hi Grrr8: The link to the ancient Hebrews has–apparently–been shown by DNA testing. Among other things, apparently Jews are most closely related to Syrians (which probably isn’t surprising), are closely interrelated without too much outbreeding, and it appears keeping with Jewish tradition, member so the priestly “Cohen” class can pretty much all trace their descent back to one or a handful of individuals around 2500 years ago. Of course, what is deemed to be “conclusive” DNA testing today might be considered to be “junk science” ten years from now, so it is right to remain a bit skeptical.

                  I think most of what you say about the Arab population is probably correct, although one “fact” (at least it is said to be a fact and it seems correct) that should be added is that a very significant portion of the “Arab” population 100 years ago was Christian, including in Jerusalem. As the smallest, and most vulnerable, group, they have been getting squeezed the most even though they have largely avoided disputes with their neighbors, and even though their ancestors unquestionably have lived in the land for 2000 years (some Moslems can say the same thing–their ancestors converted– though probably most are from much more recent immigration).

                  As for scripture, many ultra-Orthodox Jews would agree with you–they think the State of Israel is almost a blasphemy. I will leave that to others.

                • Grrr8

                  Again, a thoughtful response. Many thanks. I don’t dispute anything you say. The DNA point makes perfect sense. And yes, the identification of the Palestinian struggle as a “Muslim” or religious struggle (either a cause or a related effect to the squeezing of the christians) has been an own goal (for them) of vast proportions. It is beyond me as to why countries like Malaysia or even Pakistan recently do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
                  The whole situation seems to go to show that defining a state and its citizenship rules based on religion is just daft and unworkable. Some of the “create a Jew” campaigns (tribes from Manipur, the odd African, 1 million + Russian emigrees) shows cynical manipulation at its worst.

                • FMarion

                  It won’t work, either, although many of those people probably do have some Jewish ancestry in some vague way. We humans–particularly when we act in groups–have an amazing ability to talk ourselves into doing the stupidest and most self-destructive things.

                • margaret benjamin

                  100yrs ago and further back. Christianity came out of Jerusalem over 2000yrs ago.Islam certainly was not around in those days they would have been Christian Judeo-Christian that’s the church era as all the followers were jewish.Im sure lots of Pagans their were many greeks who converted to Judaism but Islam had no place until a few centuries later and that was out of Arabia

                • FMarion

                  Margaret:
                  As of 600 AD, practically the entire population of “palestine” would have been either Christian or Jewish, although the Christians were already broken up into various groups, and there probably wereve been some Gnostics of various types. Many of the Christians, were indeed descended from Jews. However, the area was also depopulated, both by the wars with the Persians (who conquered Jerusalem for a while–the Persians were Zorastrians though many Nestorian Christians lived there) and by the plague.
                  The Arab conquest started the conversions, but a majority of the population was Jewish and Christian at least up until the Fatimids, who did their best to convert everyone to their brand of Shia Islam. Ironically, some of the Palestinian Moslems are almost certainly descended from Jews and from Jews who converted to Christianity and then to Islam.
                  In the end, we are all related to one another, and it would be certainly nice if we could keep that in mind.

                • margaret benjamin

                  I can see were you are coming from.When the jews were scattered all over the world they never lost their identity G-d kept them despite the dark era in eastern Europe.myself I go to the scriptures and G-d says about the remnant that will return back to the land,thats something after nearly 2000yrs.I know their are jews who oppose the state of Israel they talk rubbish when Religious jews are completely praying day & night for messiah to return and restore all things.King Davids grandmother was a righteous Gentile as were others.the jews in Iran or Persia are some of the oldest communities in the world.Were ever they went they kept their roots even though they may have inter- married nothing wrong in that in itself.Today you are looking straight at biblical prophecy the end days and return of Messiah things are not going to get any better but again my confidence is that as they were brought back from the four winds he will preserve them as a people chosen unto himself. No not better than anyone else for its written G-d does not show favouritism.

                • Simon Morgan

                  Life without Islam? what heaven!!!

                • Richard Morris

                  See website of Mazin Qumsiyeh a Christian Arab Israeli living in Bethlehem May change your perspective

              • margaret benjamin

                Well said. we looked at different groups,as was the tents of Edom,Ismaelites,Moabites,ammonites Hagarenes and a lot of other ites.In psalm 83 a lot of nations are mentioned. Many people are under the impression the group known as Palestinians are the rightful owners of the land of Israel. How do they account for the refugee camps in Syria Lebanon other places in the middle east with arab refugees who claim to be Palestinian. None will recognise Israel for various reasons but the main one is the so called Right of Return knowing if they do they have no rights.Instead of living peaceably just inside of Israels borders they are far from peaceful people,on the contrary so they need pushing back as lots do belong in Jordan.

                • Grrr8

                  Given your great love for the bible, I hope you are living under the strict tenets of the Old Testament. After all it’s documentary hard truth isn’t it.

                • margaret benjamin

                  As you have already said, you don’t know anything about the Scriptures. We also have prophecy things that still have not come to pass. We know the Jews would be back in their own land,the land G-d gave to their forefathers never to be uprooted again,as it says. Scriptures concerning many nations tribes lands,we know Syria will be utterly destroyed for its written as old as Damascus is its never been destroyed before but one of the oldest cities today.Maybe you should go and study the bible it will enlighten you.

                • Grrr8

                  I’ll do that right after I put down Greek mythology, Tolkein and all the other fantasy stuff out there.

        • FMarion

          Victor:

          Do you really think that trying to do a deal with Hitler to rescue people is in any way comparable to given advice to Hitler on exterminating them? And that is the trouble with your viewpoint. It focuses on Israeli mistakes (and occasional crimes) without weighing the far greater mistakes and crimes made by the various Arab parties.

          Just look at the facts. The world went crazy when Israel raided Gaza to stop the rocket attacks. Several hundred were killed. What do you think would happen if Israel let down its guard and Hamas was able to occupy Tel Aviv? How many Israeli civilians would be murdered in the streets? Keep in mind the few times that Palestinians have been able to occupy Jewish towns in the past 65 years they went on killing and raping sprees. Also keep in mind that Palestinian “commandos” whose sole “accomplishment” was murdering Jewish children and babies are considered to be heros in their communities.

          As for reconciliation–I agree, it is the only way out of the mess, but it is going to take both sides and I don’t see that happening any time soon. As long as any Arab leader who tries to make peace gets murdered I’m not sure it is possible.

          • victor67

            I think you will find that their motives were not so altruistic. The deal with the Zazi’s was to block immigration to US/UK and to channel it to Palestine. So it was not about saving jews per se but building a Zionist state.

            • FMarion

              Victor: Perhaps, but it doesn’t affect the points I was making above, which are (1) one cannot equate the morality of plotting with Hitler to commit genocide with trying to do a deal with the Nazis to rescue people/bring them to Palestine; and (2) overall the insistence that either there is a moral equivalence in the actions of Israel and its neighbors or that Israel is far worse is disproved by what those parties have actually done. I will feel much better about denunciations of Israel when I hear the denouncers first denounce the deliberate targetting of civilians with suicide bombers, rockets and commando teams.

              • victor67

                You will not find in any of my comments support for violence in particular indiscriminate attacks on civillians. This entrenches the conflict and makes peaceful coexistance far harder. Palestinian violence/terrorism does not occur in a vacuum however and is more a symptom of rather than the cause of the problem. This certainly does not justify or excuse it as there are other more effective means to resist the Occupation. ( You may call that deligitimization though!)
                The problem is how Israeli and Palestinians can find a way to live alongside each other and one could argue that Zionist ideology and its demand for a predominatly Jewish state on land once inhabited by Palestinian arabs does not allow for such peaceful coexistance.
                Some of the attitudes of the hardline supporters of Israel are similar to White South Africans during apartheid. They also feared change and thought if they gave up their privilige they would be massacred by the indegenous people. While certainly all the intransigence is not only on the Israeli side. As by far the most powerful and dominant party in the conflict they bare most of the responsibility for solving it.

                • FMarion

                  Victor: I agree that some Israeli settlers act in manners similar to the Boers in South Aftica. Most Israelis don’t though. Moreover, in this case we know most of the Palestinian groups reject the idea of coexistence because they say so. Hamas’ charter is particularly disturbing–take a look at it when you get a chance (an English translation is on the Internet).

                  I also agree that Palesitinian violence does not exist in a vacuum, but I think the context is more than you suggest. There is no question that the violence started with repeated, savage, raids by Moslems on Jewish settlements and towns pre-1948. Then it was “drive the Jews into the sea.” After losing enough wars, it became suicide bombers attacking women and children (and very seldom military targets), commandos with AK-47 shooting children, and Hamas and Hezbollah showering Israel with rockets. (Hezbollah fired thousands at random in 2006 alone).

                  I know the stated justifications–that the Palesinians are the weaker party, they don’t have F-16’s so they need to use suicide bombs, etc. But those are just excuses. The Arabs weren’t the weaker party in 1948 (nor, by the numbers, in 1956, 1967 or 1973). And being the weaker party doesn’t justify targetting women and children. Nor do burly bigots from Brooklyn (how is that for aliteration?) who are harrasing you and your village. But what is most offputting is the celebrations that surround freed “fedayeen” who have successfully murdered Jewish babies. Now, some of that might be put on–no one wants to appear unenthusiastic if the penalty for that is death–but when I see those celebrations and read what the Palesitinians are saying to each other, it is clear to me that a lot of them have no interest at all in coexistence. They might accept a truce until they get stronger, but they still want to drive the Jews into the sea.

                  If I were an Israeli, my conclusion would be that my country must remain tough as nails and will need to beat the Moslem arabs a bunch of more times before the Arabs start wondering whether there might be a better way. It’s a grim conclusion–and a starkly sad one for the future casualities on both sides–but that is what I would conclude.

                  Sometimes there are no good answers. I fear that this is one of those times.

                • Simon Morgan

                  Mealy-mouthed apology for terrorists and murderers, again. If you [really] want to know what ‘entrenches’ the conflict, it’s a few lines in the Hamas charter (probably written for them by Tehran), that goes like this:

                  ‘Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will
                  obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.’ (Preamble)

                  I should think that’s as clear as clear can be. There is no wiggle room
                  here, is there? Where is the starting point for negotiation?

                  ‘all the Intransigence in not only on the Israeli side’? Yes, well, thanks
                  for that one grain of truth, I guess.

                • Simon Morgan

                  Need more? -try this:

                  “There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by
                  Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a
                  waste of time, an exercise in futility.’ (Article 13)”

                • Richard Morris

                  No wiggle room ? > don’t make me laugh. Where do you want me to start ?
                  see wallsofdespair.blogspot.com

                • Richard Morris

                  Again I urge you to read The General’s Son by Miko Peled if you want a way forward. His niece was murdered by a suicide bomber. He found a way to make friends with Palestinians as did his sister Nurit, her mother she also found time to do research on the discriminatory nature of education in Israel
                  richard morris wallsofdespair.blogspot.com

          • Richard Morris

            Please please read The General’s Son by Miko Peled

        • Jambo25

          Bad as the IRA were (And they could be anti-Semitic as well.) they never advocated and supported the ‘Final Solution’. Nor did they help raise murderous SS formations.

      • Richard Morris

        Of course it counts but his “Advice is” too strong And what about Ukrainians Germans Croations etc ? Palestinians didnt throw Jews into gas chambers Christian Europeans did

  • MichtyMe

    And, I suppose, you could be a Zionist and think the Middle East to be a wrong location for the Jewish homeland. Yes or am I wrong.

    • Daniel Maris

      Indeed you could. Many Zionists thought that.

  • mannj@parliament.uk

    A poorly argued, dangerously naive analysis, that fails to accurately define Zionism and underplays anti-semitism.
    I recoomend reading the All Party report next time before commentating with such dangerous ignorance and prejudice.
    You ought to consider your own anti-semitism, implicit in the article before rushing to print
    John Mann MP

    • salieri

      Wow, Alex, you really did it this time! You got one of the big beasts to come out of their lair and snarl at you – and by big I mean, gosh, a real MP, one of them types what use big words like ‘dangerous ignorance and prejudice’ without needing to explain them and don’t mind who cares if they split their infinitives.

      As for you, Mr. Mann, if you are going to step into the arena, at least do us the courtesy of defining your terms of engagement less condescendingly: what was inaccurate about AM’s definition of Zionism, where on earth is his ‘implicit anti-semitism’, what is the relevance of the All Party sodding Report (and which bit of it) to Ed Milliband’s public utterances and what is your answer to a simple allegation of hypocrisy: trying to be all things to all men?

      • Grrr8

        He’s the chair of a parliamentary committee on anti-semitism so fair play that he engages. But yes, very condescendingly.

        • salieri

          “He’s the chair of a parliamentary committee on anti-semitism”.
          Why?

          • Grrr8

            Why is he the chair or why does such a committee exist? You have to ask him.
            Sent from my iPad

            • salieri

              Touché

          • Chris Morriss

            Why should the UK government have such a committee? Perhaps we should also have a committee about how certain religions in the UK are allowed to ritually sexually mutilate young boys?

      • mannj@parliament.uk

        I will do what i want without you telling me you anonymous coward

        • salieri

          You’ll do what you want, eh, you self-regarding pipsqueak? You could start by deciding either to enter a debate or stay outside it. One or the other: not both.
          Listen, it’s good to have an MP drop in occasionally on Coffee House and contribute to a subject he is supposed to know something about. It’s not good when he flies in for the sole purpose of showing off his plumage, and flies straight off again after dumping guano on other people’s heads.

          This article was about bandwagoning: your leader’s desire to say different things at different times to different people. Instead of pretending to rebut the point, or address it at all, you throw a hissy fit and dismiss its ‘commentating’ [sic] with nothing more than lofty and patronising disdain. It’s one way of making yourself known, I suppose, but not perhaps one which will draw many admirers outside the Labour Party.

          Coffee-House readers – if you choose to address them at all – are entitled to know why you bothered to invoke some report or other produced by some committee or other without citing any part of it and without deigning to say in what possible sense it was relevant to the argument; why you presumed, merely because of who you imagine yourself to be, to adopt an haut-en-bas tone towards AM’s opening post, dismissing it as ignorant and prejudiced – dangerously so, forsooth – but without troubling to explain why; and how you have the spineless effrontery to accuse someone writing about anti-semitism of being anti-semitic himself, without even bothering to justify your argument.

          Don’t take umbrage when invited to be specific. It gives the game away. Yours are the antics of a puffed-up fourth-form debater with a chip on his shoulder, not a Member of Parliament.

          • Simon Morgan

            Salieri – you and AM are now booked into the nearest re-education facility – I think it’s in Bradford (run by a certain Gorgeous George). Such shocking recidivist behaviour, and in the 21st. century toboot!

            • salieri

              Thanks for your support, Simon. I think I detect GG’s very own fingerprints on certain other recent threads (such as Rod Liddle’s valediction to Chavez). It may even be that his heroes find re-education a waste of time, and a lot more trouble than simple extermination. At least if we are to be re-educated, though, the New Masters will have to explain where we went wrong: petulant hauteur won’t be enough.

  • http://twitter.com/JunkkMale Peter Martin

    On the plus side, BBC ME desk editors will not now need counselling, and Ed can shop at the Co-op again.

    These days conviction politicians seem only to be the ones in, or going to jail.

  • http://twitter.com/judyk113 judyk113

    I don’t think Ed Miliband is a zionist at all or ever has been. He was brought up by ardent Marxists who happened to be ethnic Jews. His mother is a campaigning anti-zionist who actually took part in one of the Gaza flotilla stunts designed to support the Hamas terrorist regime by busting the perfectly legal blockade the Israelis run under the terms of international law, under which said terrorist entity is explicitly dedicated to Israel’s destruction via arms, suicide bombing and kidnapping.

    “Zionist” or not, every single thing Ed Miliband said about Israel both at the speech where he tried to please a largely zionist audience being claiming to be one, and today, when he’s a “friend of Israel, albeit critical”, is very precisely aligned to current Coalition foreign policy (and traditional Foreign Office policy, including the “even-handedness” mantra. He’s no more a zionist than William Hague, and all of the positions he referred to are those held by Hague.

    What he is though, and has declared himself to have a genuine passion for, is a Friend of Palestine, declaring when he attended one of their meetings when he first became leader that the issue of Palestinian liberation is one that’s really important to him. He led his party into advocating the unilateral UN recognition of Palestine as a state (in breach of the Olso Accords between Israel and the PA), when UK government & FCO policy was to abstain.

    “Friend of Israel, albeit critical” is a formulation used particularly by politicians and commentators who really think they know much better than the democratically elected government of Israel what’s good for it.

    What other countries does Ed Miliband say he’s a critical friend of? Which ones would he say he’s an uncritical friend of? Why is this formulation only used about Israel?

    • Mr Grumpy

      His about-face is quite disgraceful enough without making him his mother’s keeper, Judy.

    • victor67

      Because their policies towards the Palestinians are indefensible.

      • jjjj

        Not all of them are (in)defensible. But since I found out that the Arab states rejected the UN partition resolution of 1947 I realised that the pro-Arab position rested on some very dubious history. My knowledge was also increased after I read of the ‘3 noes’ of Khartoum following the 1967 war. From then on I became a committed Zionist.

        • victor67

          dubious history like a land without a people?

          • stephen rothbart

            The Arabs living in Palestine considered themselves to be part of Greater Syria. The Allies that defeated the Ottoman Empire divided up the land and created states where they imposed or supported various “princes” or “kings” that were friendly to them, sometimes putting minority tribes or clans into power over the majority of the people living there.

            Nothing about the status quo in the Middle East is authentic. Many of the Arabs living in Israel and in Palestine were descendants of Arabs from Arabia that came to the region precisely because Jews were beginning to settle there.

            The British Mandate that allowed Jewish immigration was thwarted as much as possible by the Arabs before and during WW2 and their spiritual leader, the Mufti of Jerusalem sided openly with Hitler and applauded the very Holocaust many Arabs now say never happened.

            This is well documented and yet still you persist with your theories on how the Israelis are the bad guys.

            Look how well British and French stewardship of the region worked out. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, even Jordan. These people cannot even live in peace and harmony with each other, yet you expect them to tolerate Jews and honour agreements with them?

            • Richard Morris

              Mr Rothbart are you inferring that present day Israelis are direct descendants of a Tribe of Israelites from 4,000 yeas ago?. Please… do me a favor Do you know anything about Arab/Israelis from Irag now called Mizrahi In Israel and discriminated against by Ashkenazis ?
              I would be happy to recommend a reading list
              Richard Morris wallsofdespair.blogspot.com

              • jjjj

                More malicious propaganda. Your concern for the Mizrahi is what is called manufactured concern because you don’t really have sympathy for Jews in Israel. However, if it serves your pupose, you will feign concern.

                Do you know about the Mizrahi Jews who had to flee for their lives from Iraq and other Arab countries? They are also refugees. There is no discrimination against them in Israel. They are successful in all walks of life. Israel had to absorb Jews from all over the world, even before the founding of the state.
                Your beef against Israel in your above post is that it isn’t a utopia, that it isn’t an ideal, that it isn’t perfect. All around Israel Arabsare massacring their bretheren. And you nitpick to try and find some imaginary discrimination that does not exist.
                Are you so hard up that you need people to click on your blog? Are you being paid per click?

        • Richard Morris

          Oh dear Ignorance is bliss just read for heaven’s sake Ilan Pappe Avi Shlaim or my blog wallsofdespair.blogspot.com Would you have accepted your own country being partitioned ? Many Palestinians can trace their ancestors back at least 300 years. Do you think those Russian immigrants can?

          • jjjj

            I think that you are very rude but notwithstanding that I will respond:
            It wasn’t [their] country that was being partitioned: It was territory subject to the British Mandate. I know more about the birth of Israel and Zionism than you do, plug for your blog notwithstanding. So no lectures please. The Jews can trace their roots back to Palestine under the Romans. The Arabs of Eretz Yisrael, many of them at least, immigrated in the 19th century to Palestine, for economic reasons, just as the Jews emigrated.
            European powers meddled all over the shop in the Middle (Near) East in the early 20th century, carving up territories and making secret promises.
            Truth is, if you want to turn the clock back on imperial machinations then start with what Europeans did in America, Australia etc. etc.
            If you are implying that I am a supporter of Sharon, Shamir and Netanyau you would be wrong. That should give you a clue regarding the Russians and the settlements beyond the Green Line.
            Fact is that

    • Richard Morris

      Why then isn’t he a Labour Friend Of Palestine too?
      Why like Tony Blair is he indifferent to the murder of children by the IDF to check points to The WALL
      And please no sceaming anti-semite at me
      I’m sick of it
      wallsofdespair.blogspot.com

      • jjjj

        You are not one of those who claim that anyone who criticizes Israel is called an antisemite are you? It sounds as if you are simply dying to be called an antisemite. You are pathetic, though.

    • Junis

      Zionism is not advisable because Israel did 9/11 to cause a catastrophic military backlash against the Muslim world. In this the tiny country succeeded. I was initially worried about Miliband and thanks to your clarifying comment I will now vote for him.

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