Miliband warms the hearts of the Labour Friends

Ed Miliband speaking at the Labour Friends of Israel lunch this week

Ed Miliband speaking at the Labour Friends of Israel lunch this week

Opposition leader Ed Miliband received a standing ovation at the Labour Friends of Israel annual lunch on Tuesday after his most personal declaration of pride in his Jewishness since his election to the role four years ago.

His warm recollections of his visit to Israel before Pesach with his wife Justine, his comments about the country's security needs and economic prowess, and his firm opposition to a boycott impressed an audience of around 350, including 90 MPs and peers.

In a final flourish, he said that, if elected Prime Minister next year, he would enter Downing Street proud to be a "friend of Israel, a Jew and… part of the community gathered here today".

While he was clearly among friends and supporters, the consensus was that his address had gone down far better than his remarks to the Community Security Trust dinner earlier this year. "He's nailed it," said one communal figure.

He would enter Downing Street as a proud Jew

The Labour leader said that he looked forward to travelling to Israel with his children Daniel and Sam when they were older.

He was applauded for his anti-boycott commitment - "we will resolutely oppose the isolation of Israel," he said - and for his assertion that no one in his party should question Israel's right to exist.

The annual event, sponsored by businessmen Isaac Kaye and Sir David Garrard, was one of the LFI's best attended in recent years.

It attracted more than half the Labour front bench, including Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

The new chairman of LFI is lawyer Adrian Cohen, who was recently elected a trustee of the Jewish Leadership Council.

Last updated: 4:15pm, June 19 2014