'Vote Ed - he's a brave friend of Israel'


Labour’s Shadow Middle East Minister has urged British Jews to support Ed Miliband.

Gareth Thomas defended the party’s condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza and said Labour leaders were committed to encouraging the two sides back to negotiations.

“I hope people in the Jewish community will give strong support to Ed. He’s a brave leader. He took a strong view on Gaza and I recognise for some in the Jewish community that was challenging,” he told the JC this week.

“Labour remains very strongly a friend of Israel, just as we are to the Palestinians. It’s our responsibility if we get back into government to do what we can to get both sides back around the table.”

Harrow West MP Mr Thomas played down an apparent split between party leaders and backbenchers on the issue of boycotts of Israel. Mr Miliband has repeatedly outlined his objection to divestment and sanctions, but some Labour MPs have continued to push for such an approach.

“There have always been people in the party who take a different view and there’s a robust debate,” Mr Thomas said.

“I think Ed, Douglas Alexander (Shadow Foreign Secretary) and myself have strong support and a sensible position.”

The 47-year-old said supporters of Israel should not find it “particularly unusual” that MPs had frequently debated Palestinian issues in recent months. He said the conflict was linked to a wider series of discussions on the threat of Islamic extremists and Europe’s response to global issues.

Mr Thomas, who took on the Middle East role in October, criticised the response of social media companies to antisemitic abuse targeting his shadow cabinet colleague Luciana Berger.

He said Twitter and the police must work more collaboratively to tackle the problem and expressed his shock at the racist abuse suffered by Ms Berger and her fellow Jewish MP Louise Ellman.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive