UK Israel Activists to Demonstrate Against Opposition Leader Ed Miliband’s Speech to Pro-BDS Organization
Pro-Israel activists in the UK have announced a demonstration outside a conference center in central London tomorrow night, where Ed Miliband, the Jewish leader of the opposition Labour Party, will address the annual dinner of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East (LFPME,) a lobby group known for its visceral hostility towards the State of Israel.
The demonstrators, organized by activist organizations Sussex Friends of Israel and Pro-Israel Response Group, will demand “that the Labour Leader stand up to his principles and longstanding pledge to British Jews for a two-state solution and against all boycotts.”
Miliband, who has been dogged by collapsing approval ratings ahead of next year’s British general election, has faced increasing opposition from within the Jewish community over his stance on Israel. As The Algemeiner reported in October, Miliband was fiercely criticized by Maureen Lipman, a leading British Jewish actress with longstanding ties to the Labour Party, or his support for British recognition of a Palestinian state independently of any negotiations with Israel.
Reports that Ms. Lipman is sending a message of support to tomorrow night’s demonstration could not be confirmed.
Following Lipman’s remarks, Miliband issued a forthright condemnation of anti-Semitism, declaring the need for a “zero tolerance approach.” He also delivered a powerful speech to the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) group, in which he condemned Hamas for failing to renounce violence and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
One activist involved with the plans for tomorrow night’s demonstration told The Algemeiner that “If I had been at the LFI speech, I would have given Ed a standing ovation.” However, the activist, who asked not to be identified, added that “Ed can’t have it both ways. That’s our message.”
The controversy over Miliband’s appearance at the LFPME dinner stems from that organization’s support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel – a stance roundly rejected by Miliband – as well as its positive attitude to what is euphemistically called the “one-state solution.” This formulation is code for the elimination of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state, an outcome that could only be achieved by the military conquest of the Jewish state.
Additionally, there is concern that LFPME is pushing to criminalize British Jews who volunteer for the IDF, despite the fact that the UK and Israel mutually benefit from healthy military, trade and diplomatic ties. In a recent Facebook posting, Mark McDonald, an LFPME coordinator, drew an explicit comparison with the terrorists of the Islamic State organization, writing, “if it is now illegal to go to Syria and fight should we also arrest those who left the UK to fight for the Israeli army and then committed war crimes in Gaza?”
“We are concerned that speaking at the LFPME dinner will be interpreted by many as an endorsement of their positions,” Sussex Friends of Israel spokesperson Fiona Sharpe told The Algemeiner. “It is vitally important that as the leader of the Labour Party and someone who will be running for Prime Minister in 2015, there is no ambiguity about Mr Miliband’s stance vis a vis a two-state negotiated settlement in the Middle East and his views on the continued delegitimization of Israel through the campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions.”