By Jenni Frazer
December 1, 2011
I have rarely felt such a sense of disappointment in a Labour leader as I do today in Ed Miliband.
Repeatedly asked to condemn what you might think would be a no-brainer, MP Paul Flynn's scurrilous remarks about the British ambassador to Israel and his alleged "dual loyalty", Mr Miliband took refuge in weak silence. It was left to his shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, to do the deed and castigate Mr Flynn's comments.
In recent weeks Mr Miliband has let drop intriguing hints about releasing his inner Jew. He has had, we are told, deep conversations with himself about his Jewish identity following the birth of his second son. He has had long discussions with the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, and the new Israeli ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub (who, by Paul Flynn's bizarre logic, should also be guilty of dual loyalties since he is British-born.)
I can't imagine that such conversations, were they to take place this week, would be so comfortable for Mr Miliband.
All he has to do - in fact all he had to do - was to state clearly and unequivocally that Paul Flynn's remarks are completely and utterly unacceptable, no ifs, buts, or maybes. No hedging, no fudging, no ringing round with putting in context.
What Paul Flynn said was deeply offensive and completely bought in to every antisemitic trope and stereotype currently being peddled on what we have hitherto considered the lunatic fringe. But Flynn has now brought this attitude into respectable conversation. Mr Miliband needs to tread on this immediately; but I cannot understand why he hesitated. Unless, of course, he believes that his own background will lead to a loss of credibility, and he is allowing his Jewish identity to constrain him.
For shame, Ed. I thought you were better than that.