British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband decried the rise of anti-Semitism in Great Britain and called for “a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism in the UK.”
Miliband, the son of Holocaust refugees, in a Facebook post Tuesday cited figures from the Jewish Community Security Trust that indicate a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents. He praised Britain’s tradition of tolerance but warned that “the recent spate of incidents should serve as a wake-up call for anyone who thought the scourge of anti-Semitism had been defeated and that the idea of Jewish families fearful of living here in Britain was unthinkable.”
He went on: “Some have told me how, for the first time in their lifetime, they are scared for their children’s future in our country. Others have expressed a general unease that this rise in anti-Semitism could signal that something has changed – or is changing – in Britain.”
Miliband cited in particular the experiences of Labour lawmakers Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger, who were recently targeted by anti-Semitic tweets, and he pointed to this past summer’s Gaza conflict as an inflection point that triggered a spike in anti-Semitic incidents. During the conflict itself, Miliband castigated Israel.
Miliband called on Facebook and other social media sites to monitor users for bigoted attacks.
He concluded his post by declaring, “A zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms here in Britain will go hand-in-hand with the pursuit of peace in the Middle East as a key focus of the next Labour government’s foreign policy.”
Last week, a leading English Jewish actress dropped her support for Miliband’s party over its policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and said it needed to be “once more led by mensches.”
Maureen Lipman, known for her roles in “The Pianist” and “Educating Rita” and for a series of comedic parts on British TV, castigated the opposition party and its leadership in a piece published by Standpoint, a British magazine covering politics and culture.
A self-described five-decade Labour voter and socialist, Lipman said she could not continue to support the party after Miliband voted to urge the British government to recognize Palestine in a House of Commons ballot last month.
“I’m an actress, Ed, and I am often commended for my timing,” wrote the 68-year-old actress, a recipient of the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) honor. “Frankly, my dear, yours sucks.”
She added: “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Just when the anti-Semitism in France, Denmark, Norway, Hungary is mounting savagely, just when our cemeteries and synagogues and shops are once again under threat. Just when the virulence against a country defending itself, against 4,000 rockets and 32 tunnels inside its borders, as it has every right to do under the Geneva Convention, had been swept aside by the real pestilence of IS, in steps Mr Miliband to demand that the government recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”
Last month, the House of Commons voted by 274-12 to back a symbolic motion urging the Conservative-led government of David Cameron to recognize Palestine. The motion was introduced by a backbench Labour Party MP, in an ostensible effort to break the “impasse” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Miliband voted for the motion and he also instructed his party colleagues to do so.
In July, on a visit to the US during the Israel-Hamas war, Miliband said: “We oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza… I don’t think it will help win Israel friends. I don’t think this will make the situation better. I fear it will make it worse.”
Miliband, who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel earlier this year, suggested that while diminishing Israel’s position in the eyes of the world, the conflict would also boost Hamas recruitment efforts. He also blamed the increasing violence on the lack of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
“What this horrendous, terrible last few weeks has shown is the vacuum of not having a process is incredibly dangerous,” he said. “That vacuum means any restraint breaks down. And so you’ve got to restart a process.”
Such a peace process would be badly impacted by continued settlement construction, he also warned. “I am concerned that the more settlements there are, the more the growth of settlements can become a problem in relation to the peace process, he said.
Days earlier Miliband justified Israel’s right to self-defense but decried the Palestinian deaths. “I defend Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks,” he said. “But I cannot explain, justify or defend the horrifying deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, including children and innocent civilians.”