Wednesday, March 20th | 13 Adar II 5779

January 20, 2015 4:13 pm

British Opposition Leader Ed Miliband Condemns ‘Questioning the Right of Israel to Exist’

avatar by Ben Cohen

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UK Labour leader Ed Miliband said questioning Israel's right to exist was "in a different category" from criticism of Israeli policies. Photo: Twitter

Ed Miliband, the Jewish leader of Britain’s Labour opposition whose stance on Israel has antagonized many Jewish members of his party, has questioned the legitimacy of arguing that the Jewish state has no right to exist.

Addressing a meeting in Mill Hill, a north London suburb that is home to a large Jewish population, Miliband recognized the “palpable state of anxiety” that has enveloped the Jewish community since the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago.

“The best answer to this is to stand up loud and clear against antisemitism in all its forms,” Miliband declared. “That is what I do and that is what I will continue to do. It is very important that we speak out clearly.”

The Labour leader added: “The thing that we have got to get across to people is that skepticism about some of the actions of the government of Israel is of a totally different category either of questioning the right of the state of Israel to exist or of antisemitism.”

Miliband’s comments followed the release of a poll last week by the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) which showed that at least 45 percent of respondents agreed with at least one antisemitic statement shown to them. A separate CAA survey showed that 65 percent of British Jews felt directly threatened by Islamist terrorism, while 84 percent regard anti-Israel boycotts as intimidation.

Writing about the poll findings on the blog of the Community Security Trust (CST,) the official communal defense body of British Jews, Dave Rich observed:

The dangers are real enough. Jihadis want to kill us; antisemites shout or tweet their abuse; when Israel fights one of its periodic conflicts against Hamas or Hizbollah, latent anti-Jewish attitudes in some sections of British society cause eruptions of antisemitic hate crime.

Yet most of the time, most British Jews do not encounter antisemitism and are able to live whatever Jewish lives they choose.

As French Jews have found, if terrorists are successful in murdering Jews then this delicate balance can be altered irrevocably. The challenge in Britain is to ensure that they do not get that chance.

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