You may or may not know that Ed Miliband, leader of Britain's Labour Party, is Jewish. That, in itself, puts him in a bit of a pickle because the U.K., as you are likely well aware, is suffused with Zionhass. (Zionhass is my coinage for the Jew-hate of our time, a hate which incorporates - and is often fueled by - an over-the-top hatred of Israel, the Jewish State). And to show his leftist bona fides, Ed, while strongly affirming his Jewishness, has to be seen to be pro-Gazan/pro-Palestinian.
Thus, during Israel most recent Gaza operation, Ed slammed UK Prime Minister David Cameron because of his purported “silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians.” Along with that, Ed backed a vote in the House of Commons on recognizing Palestinian statehood, and even addressed a meeting of the pro-boycott Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
These actions may have stood him in good stead with the chattering classes and the Islamists, but it isn't doing much to boost his fortunes within Britain's Jewish community. Fortunately for him, that community is: A) relatively small in number, particularly in relation to U.K. Muslims; and B) apt to be leftist and Zion-loathing itself. (This Israel-disparaging segment of the tribe was skewered with great relish by novelist Howard Jacobson in his Mann-Booker prize-winning book, The Finkler Question.)
So is Ed, in fact, one of Jacobson's "ASH-amed Jews"? Well, maybe not entirely. He has said, for example, that while he still believes he was "right about Gaza," he sees himself as "a strong friend of Israel."
Then again, so does Barack Obama.
Then again, Barack Obama never had to deal with what Ed did in his race to become prime minister. (Benjamin Disraeli faced a lot of it back in his day, minus the Israel component, of course.) As well, Obama never had to deal with a very specific sort of scrutiny re his menu choices. I'm referring to what, to a practicing Jew, is a rather unpalatable subject. To wit: Ed's apparent need to be seen to be eating "trayf" - just like a regular Brit - in order to be deemed "kosher" in voters' eyes (though perhaps not, I grant you, in the eyes of Muslim voters).
Here, for example, is a photo of Ed scarfing down a bacon sarnie - very messily - last year. And here's how the unflattering photo was reprised just the other day on the front page of trashy British tabloid, The Sun:
Charles C.W. Cooke of the National Review discerns some old-fangled anti-Semitism in this assemblage. And to a degree, I think he's right. (It's hard to imagine something similar showing up on the front page of a mainstream North American tabloid--the Toronto Sun or the New York Post, say.) That said, did Ed really have to give the media this particular photo-op? Couldn't he have opted for a pork-free sandwich instead?
I ask you: would we even be having this conversation--and would Ed be in a pickle of his own making--had he gone with a nice, inoffensive hamburger?
Minus all the messy toppings, of course.
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