By Jennifer Lipman
September 1, 2010
Labour’s would-be leader Ed Miliband gave an interview to the Evening Standard yesterday in which he laid out his views on marriage and his education policies. Then, despite stating that he was an avowed atheist, Miliband-the-younger added:
“Obviously I'm Jewish, it is part of my identity, but not in a religious sense. I don't wish I had had a more religious upbringing.
“But I have Jewish friends who were part of the Jewish community growing up, going to Jewish youth clubs and other things.
“I think I felt slightly jealous.”
Having spent years as a member of and then leader for a Jewish youth movement, it got me thinking. Which of Britain’s various youth organisations would Ed have belonged in? Noam? RSY? Hanoar?
With Ed’s Marxist credentials (his father was the Marxist thinker Ralph Miliband), the obvious choice would have been Habonim Dror: the “Socialist Zionist Culturally Jewish youth movement”.
The 40-year-old would have had as contemporaries comedians including Sacha Baron Cohen, David Baddiel and Seth Rogen.
Who knows, if Ed had been a Habo boy, he might have injected some of their humour into the very serious matter of choosing the next Labour leader?
But perhaps it wouldn’t have been Habonim. David is always depicted as the more serious and politics-obsessed of the brothers, while Ed has been praised as able to “speak human”. As a teenager, might he have rebelled against his political identity and chosen another movement?
So where would he have gone? Bnei Akiva, for the Jewish education that he failed to find at home? FZY, which, with its focus on pluralism (big tent?), might have suited him very well.
Or he could have tried BBYO, and made friends with current Conservative housing minister Grant Shapps.
Still, Ed shouldn’t fret. Plenty of Jewish teens miss out on the youth movement experience first time round.
Perhaps someone from Birthright should get in touch with his office?
Update: A Twitter follower points out that Ralph Miliband was once a member of left-wing Zionist movement Hashomer Hatzair (a point on which the New Statesman agrees).