Israel,  Labour Party

Ed Miliband at LFI

Many recent HP posts have, quite rightly, raised concerns about links between Labour Party members and extremist groups and individuals. So here, just for a change, is part of Ed Miliband’s speech to Labour Friends of Israel.

“I understand and share the anger of people in this room and people in the Jewish community about the 10years of rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza. The most recent of which happened just yesterday and indeed two weeks ago in Ashkelon an innocent civilian was killed. It is wrong, it is the murder of innocent people and we all condemn it. I understand also the fear that is generated when we hear people question Israel’s very right to exist. We should condemn completely, and have no tolerance of those who question the state of Israel wherever their voices are raised. And I understand too, and reference was made to it, about the fear of what is happening in Iran. We know that Iran has supplied thousands of missiles to Hamas and Hezbollah and we must stand up to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear programme. The international community must speak with one voice and apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime.”

“And I’m proud of the work …. of …. Tony Blair, in his vital work as Quartet representative in the Middle East.(APPLAUSE)It’s good to hear applause when Tony Blair’s name is mentioned.”

“as a party we will have no tolerance for anti-Semitism in Britain. That is the way it must be. I know as leader of the Labour Party, it is our role not just to keep the debate in the Middle East sensible and balanced, but to ensure the labour party challenges speakers of hate and those that seek to marginalise Jewish voices and shout down those who make the case for the State of Israel. And it is why I’m also against the current calls for boycotts which frankly would cause isolation not progress in the Middle East peace process.”

Martin Bright highlights Ed Miliband’s attempts to engage with some of the more divisive issues.

Mr Miliband tackled the issue of his support for the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, which he recognised had been difficult for some in the room to accept. He said the task of leadership was to make difficult decisions, but in the context of the Middle East he always hoped he would make “the decision that will further the cause of peace”. He added that the decision to back the change in the law of universal jurisdiction had also been a difficult and had also been unpopular in some sections of the party. He did not mention Labour’s candidate for London mayor, Ken Livingstone, who continues to be a divisive figure in the Jewish community.

But – let’s end on something else Ed Miliband said which most of us will probably agree with:

“It is not left-wing or progressive to ally oneself with those that seek Israel’s destruction, or those who don’t value one iota the type of society we strive for in this country.

Hat Tip: LFI and Disillusioned Lurker

Gene adds: I was going to post about this encouraging news, but Sarah beat me to it. I’ll simply add that LFI has just released a book called “Making the Progressive Case for Israel”:

The book is in memory of David Cairns, and is inspired by the work he began with a speech in March, in which he called for the left to remind ourselves of the values that brought us into progressive politics, and to acknowledge that there is still only one country in the Middle East where those values are lived out every day. At the heart of the progressive case for Israel is the belief that, by working alongside progressives in Israel for shared aims, we will bring our two countries and traditions closer together.

The contributors are LFI Chair John Woodcock MP, together with Dr Brian Brivati, Adrian Cohen, Michael Dugher MP, Louise Ellman MP, Dr David Hirsh, Dr Peter Kyle, Meg Munn MP, Robert Philpot, Baroness Ramsay, Rachel Reeves MP, Jonathan Reynolds MP, Steve Scott and Wes Streeting. It is edited by Ben Garratt and includes David Cairns’ speech on the same subject, delivered in March this year.

All Labour Friends of Israel members will receive a copy of ‘Making the progressive case for Israel’ in the post. Members also receive invitations to Labour Friends of Israel events, including our reception at Labour Party Conference, in addition to our weekly informed email briefing on events in the region.

You can join Labour Friends of Israel here.

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