It can’t be easy being Ed Miliband. Having won the leadership election (hurrah!) by the narrowest of margins, he has within days been maligned by the press as a secret commie and overshadowed by his brothers resignation from frontline politics.
It now seems that he has managed to unnerve some pro-Israel supporters by speaking at a Labour Friends of Palestine event. Ed had the audacity to voice such shockingly anti-semitic intentions as an ‘interest in visiting the region and espousing British values in order to bring about peace in the region’. As a lobby group containing individuals such as Andy Burnham MP and Richard Howitt MEP, the organisation itself isn’t exactly Hamas.
It is disappointing that the mere act of displaying solidarity with a people currently living under occupation in increasingly desperate conditions is enough to send vested interests into a self-righteous hissy fit. Such reactions are particularly stupid given Ed Miliband’s background as the son of Jewish refugees.
In a conflict where the line between nationalist, religious and cultural concerns have become intertwined, Ed Miliband’s measured approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict, along with his brother's objections to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon during his time in the cabinet, should be welcomed as evidence that people of Jewish heritage, and indeed anyone with a concern for international affairs, can and should defend Israel’s right to exist without acting as apologists for its worst offenses. In a week which has seen Israel’s actions against the Gaza Aid flotilla deemed illegal by the UN and the resumption of settlement building on occupied land, this issue remains as pertinent as ever.
In his speech on Tuesday, Ed Miliband called for a foreign policy dictated by our values and not our allies. Nowhere is this more important that in the region of the Middle East.