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Former MP, academic and activist Eric Moonman dies

Labour and SDP politician served twice as Board of Deputies senior vice president

    Professor Eric Moonman (left) at a Zionist Federation event with Shuli Davidovich, Pual Quastel and ZF chairman Estelle Gilston
    Professor Eric Moonman (left) at a Zionist Federation event with Shuli Davidovich, Pual Quastel and ZF chairman Estelle Gilston

    Eric Moonman, the former Labour and SDP politician, academic and Israel activist, has died aged 88.

    Born in Liverpool, he represented Essex seats in the House of Commons and had the distinction being both an MP and a member of the Board of Deputies.

    His political career was spent in marginal constituencies. He helped Harold Wilson increase his parliamentary majority by winning Billericay in 1966, but was defeated at the next election.

    Moonman returned to the Commons in February 1974 representing the neighbouring seat of Basildon and held it until 1979.

    He left Labour in the 1980s to join the SDP, but did not return to parliament. He chaired the Zionist Federation between 1975 and 80.

    After losing his seat, Moonman served as Board of Deputies senior vice president in two stints from 1985 to 1991, and again between 1994 and 1999.

    He also became a board member of the British-Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1986 and was most recently known as a broadcaster and expert on security and counter terrorism issues.

    Later in life he returned to the Zionist Federation as its president.

    “Eric was a longstanding deputy who served the Board with distinction. He was one of a select group of Deputies who were Members of Parliament,” said Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

    “He was absolutely dedicated to our community and Israel, as well as to his parliamentary life, and was a hardworking public servant.

    “As I came to know over time, he cared deeply over a vast range of issues in society and was an eloquent speaker. He became a good friend to me and I feel his loss.”

    His funeral will place in Southport later on Sunday.

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