As a lot of readers will know, I have recently started a new day job working for a pro-Israel grassroots campaign - a cause I have supported as a lay activist for 20 years.
I was therefore delighted to see what Ed Miliband
said in his speech to the Labour Friends of Israel annual lunch on Tuesday. Here are some of the key quotes:
"the thing I feel overwhelmingly about the State of Israel is that out of the darkness of the war and the Holocaust it gave light to my family. And I wouldn
’t be here today if it wasn
’t for the State of Israel and what it has achieved, and I wanted to make that clear."
"see Israel also from the point of view of a political leader. A democracy in a region where autocracy is commonplace, and it is important to say that. A country where this summer the tent protests began as thousands of ordinary Israelis mobilised. But Israel is a country known for its thriving small business sector, renowned for its venture capital industry and from which we can learn. And it is a country also, and if I can put it this way, where we have a new Labor party with a new leader, Shelly Yachimovich
, who is charting a new course for her party."
"The reason I tell this story is because I want to say very clearly I’m grateful to Israel, I respect Israel, I admire Israel and that is why I’m proud to be here to be here, to be part of Labour Friends of Israel. And I give you my word that under my leadership I will ensure that the Labour Party remains a strong and steadfast friend of Israel."
, I remain absolutely committed to seeing progress towards a stable two state solution. That is the only way forward, it seems to me. With Israel and Palestine living side by side; and with each enjoying self-determination and mutual recognition. And I stand shoulder to shoulder with all those Israelis and Palestinians that share this vision."
"I understand and share the anger of people in this room and people in the Jewish community about the 10years of rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza. The most recent of which happened just yesterday and indeed two weeks ago in Ashkelon
an innocent civilian was killed. It is wrong, it is the murder of innocent people and we all condemn it.I understand also the fear that is generated when we hear people question Israel’s very right to exist. We should condemn completely, and have no tolerance of those who question the state of Israel wherever their voices are raised. And I understand too, and reference was made to it, about the fear of what is happening in Iran. We know that Iran has supplied thousands of missiles to Hamas
and Hezbollah and we must stand up to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear programme. The international community must speak with one voice and apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime."
"And I’m proud of the work .... of .... Tony Blair, in his vital work as Quartet representative in the Middle East.(APPLAUSE)It’s good to hear applause when Tony Blair’s name is mentioned."
"as a party we will have no tolerance for anti-Semitism
in Britain. That is the way it must be. I know as leader of the Labour Party,it is our role not just to keep the debate in the Middle East sensible and balanced, but to ensure the labour party challenges speakers of hate and those that seek to marginalise Jewish voices and shout down those who make the case for the State of Israel. And it is why I’m also against the current calls for boycotts which frankly would cause isolation not progress in the Middle East peace process."
"hope can overcome fear,but I learn the lesson also that political will can breed hope, which can overcome fear. And16 years ago this month we mark the death of Yitzhak
Rabin, and this is what he said on the signing of the Oslo Accords. He said: “We all love the same children, weep the same tears,hate the same enmity and pray for reconciliation. Peace has no borders, here is where we were born; here is where we created a nation. But we are not alone here on this soil in this land. Our neighbours are Palestinian people. We all see you in your difficulties, we saw you for generations; we who have killed and been killed are walking beside you now toward a common future and we want to be good neighbours.” "
"To create political will though requires dialogue, debate and understanding. And that’s why I want to reiterate my support for the work that Labour Friends of Israel does. Ultimately we all know what the solution is. We know the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. Let us all pledge to do our best to make this peace a reality. And I make this pledge thinking of the deep ties that exist between Britain and Israel and Labour and Israel. Ties of cooperation, of culture, of common purpose."
Standard annual Labour Friends of Israel membership is £15. Please follow this link to join https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?hl=en_US&formkey=dGp2ZHAxVXI1VDVidXZIZXczN21ySkE6MQ#gid=0