Will British Jewish funders’ blackmail backfire?

Ed Miliband and Labour's Jewish donors

By Alan Hart

Question: What’s the difference between the Zionist lobby in America and the Zionist lobby in Britain?

Answer: In America it gives money to politicians to make them. In Britain it denies them money to break them.

The headline in the Independent on Sunday was “Labour funding crisis: Jewish donors drop ‘toxic’ Ed Miliband” (the son of Jewish holocaust refugees and the leader of the Labour Party). The headline over the same story in the newsletter of Jews for Justice for Palestinians was “Rich Jews ditch Labour”.

What is Miliband’s crime in the eyes of wealthy British Jews who have been contributing to Labour Party funds?

He condemned Israel’s last war on the Gaza Strip which he described as “wrong and unjustifiable”. He also accused Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron of being wrong not to have condemned Israel; and he added that Israel was “losing friends in the international community day by day” (which is true).

Miliband’s condemnation of Israel struck chords with very many British people, and politicians of all parties are beginning to understand that they have got to listen to those whose votes they seek.

Subsequently, Miliband further offended British Jewish supporters of Israel right or wrong when he decided to whip the non-binding vote in parliament calling for the government to unilaterally recognise Palestine. On this he was opposed by a number of senior Labour MPs, including at least two shadow cabinet ministers. They said he was changing Labour policy that recognition should only be given when a two-state solution had been negotiated. And they warned that Miliband’s stance would haemorrhage Jewish support. They were right.

The story in the Independent on Sunday was not quite as explicit as its headline. Its message was not that very many Jewish funders had already pulled the plug on funding for the Labour Party but that they were intending to do so.

One previous donor who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity said:

There aren’t that many donors to the Labour Party these days, and certainly not the same number of Jewish donors. There is a lot of worry. I have been a Labour supporter all my life and I would like to see a Labour government, but, on the other hand, I’m not entirely sure I want to see Ed Miliband in Downing Street or Douglas Alexander in the Foreign Office.

Another previous donor said that he and others had been asked by the Labour Party to arrange a fundraising dinner but had found no takers. He added:

Miliband won’t get money. I can tell you that now. I was going to do a couple of dinners and invite prominent members of the community, who are quite wealthy, to raise funds. They just wouldn’t touch it. It was too toxic for them to even consider. There is a lot of reluctance to support Miliband financially, unfortunately.

Wealthy British Jewish supporters of Israel right or wrong are obviously hoping that by resorting to this kind of blackmail they can stop the rot of anti-Israelism spreading further in British politics. They might succeed but their efforts could also be counterproductive (as almost everything Zionism does is) because Miliband’s condemnation of Israel struck chords with very many British people, and politicians of all parties are beginning to understand that they have got to listen to those whose votes they seek.

If I was advising Miliband I would have him say two things.

The first, to previous Jewish contributors to Labour Party funds ,would be something like this.

If you really care about Jewish values and the wellbeing of Jews everywhere, you should use your influence to try to cause Israel to end its defiance of international law and be serious about peace on terms which would provide the Palestinians with an acceptable amount of justice and security for all.

The second, to the general public, the voters, would be something like this.

The main problem for the Labour Party is not my leadership. The main problem is that our own neo-con, Tony Blair, destroyed the Labour Party. I am trying to rebuild it.

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