Daily Mail

Hated ‘in’ Britain?

A guest post by Marc Goldberg

article-2439565-1869B7C000000578-142_638x415I’m more than a little bewildered by the amount of controversy surrounding the attack by the Daily Mail on Ralph Miliband, the father of the current head of the Labour Party in the UK, Ed Miliband – the man who looks set to lead his party to victory over the Conservatives in the next  general election. In an attack widely condemned in the UK, the newspaper launched a vigorous attack on the younger Miliband by going after his now deceased father. At one point, Geoffrey Levy, who penned the article, literally claimed that the veteran of the Royal Navy “hated Britain”, a ‘fact’ used in the title “The Man Who Hated Britain”.

The article generated widespread condemnation and some wonder whether there is more to it than a newspaper merely attacking a politician through his father.   You see, Ralph Miliband was a Jew and as a point of fact he was an ardent Socialist. There are some who see the spectre of anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head. If you’re in any doubt as to why some people immediately thought anti-Semitism, simply Google the term “Jewish Socialist”, then “Jewish Communist”, then “Jewish Bolshevik” and you’ll get the idea pretty quickly. Alternatively you can just watch Schindler’s List and count the number of times the Nazis who are killing Jews make those kinds of comparisons;

“An educated Jew, like Karl Marx himself.”

When I read the original article I simply came away from it thinking that Ralph Miliband was a deluded individual blindly hanging on to a dead ideology. I didn’t see anything in it that was offensive to Jews in general, and in fact it wouldn’t even have occurred to me to connect it with anti-Semitism if I hadn’t started hearing it from various directions around me.

With that in mind I read an article in the New Statesman written by Daniel Trilling who said something that really resonated with me, he wrote that;

“The subtext, further reinforced by the way the paper worded its refusal to apologise for running the piece, is that there’s something foreign about Ed Miliband himself. Never openly said, of course, but a series of snide digs that say – watch it, Ed, you’ll never be fully British and don’t you forget it.”

The irony of the fact that Trilling is writing this is that it’s exactly what Ralph Miliband wrote about British society and one of the quotes that was used against him to argue that he was somehow unpatriotic.  Miliband wrote:

“Foreigners, Jews, natives etc are all right in their place and their place is outside . . .”

This perfectly describes the feelings of the 21-year-old me as I left the UK for Israel. Perhaps as Levy suggests, this is the product of having “a giant sized social chip” on my shoulder but the fact that the words written by Ralph Miliband echoed my own thoughts decades later and that this quote was chosen by Levy in the first place as proof of Miliband’s alleged hatred of Britain combined with the fact that Trilling took this as the message inherent in the article is quite a coincidence.

What the Daily Mail has done is disturb a real fault line in the way that Jews in the UK perceive their own relationship with wider British society. This is a Jewish community that never had the same sense of pride at being a ‘British’ Jew or feeling of acceptance as our cousins in the United States at being American Jews.

The British Jewish community has always been of a “don’t rock the boat” mentality and everything will be fine, yet if even Ralph Miliband, the Marxist who left his Judaism way behind him and sired the head of the Labour Party could come under attack for not being British enough, then maybe the rest could too. A very worrying thought indeed. 

37 replies »

  1. You see, Ralph Miliband was a Jew

    I read and loved Miliband for decades.. I had no idea he was a jew. He was Britains leading lefty sociologist. He was hated because lefties are hated. It is a matter of coincidence that he was also a Jew although the Mail is also anti-Semitic of course

    • Could be that someone have an issue with the potential next pm being a Jew more than being a leftie…

  2. I’m sorry to hear that you feel that way, I think my Nan may have been Jewish but she died before I was born, she was from the East End of London. To be honest I was born & brought up in SE London and don’t even know any Jewish people! Where did they all go? I never hear anyone being anti semitic and as far as I’m concerned Jewish people always worked hard and got on with it, which the British respect.

  3. What exactly is the headline supposed to imply? Hated by Britiain or what?

    Anyway: the Mail has of course denied any anti.Semitic undertone behind the offending article. So that’s that cleared up.

    Oh, hang on …

  4. The Mail was VERY careful to see that that this vitriolic piece was penned by a Jew to deflect charges of antisemitism. I hold no brief for Miliband senior and were he alive he now he would probably be in the forefront of the BDS brigade. However to libel a dead man to in order to denigrate his son is cowardly and reprehensible and gutter journalism writ large. British Jews can never be assertive like American Jews because a) America, unlike Britain is a land of immigrants and b) the proportions of Jews to the general population are utterly unequal.

    • I second that Kibbitzer. It is very low journalism. Pathetic almost.
      This is exactly what Ed was saying. “If you have something against my policies take it with me”.
      I was astonished that they refuse to apologise for the poor ethics.

    • But hang on as Grant Shapps pointed out on question time left wing media did that with David Cameron is that OK. Did I think the article was wrong – yes, did they have every right to publish it – yes. Is the furore of it being whipped up by the left and a publicity hungry JC yes. Some of what was said by the left when Thatcher died was far worse- is that OK?

    • Kibbitzer

      You can’t libel dead people, which is why the Mail wrote whatever it liked to push its own political agenda. I agree with Marc though, whether deliberate or not, the piece has dark undertones of anti-Semitism using classic anti-Semitic tropes.

      I’m surprised however, that it took the New Statesman to bring this to Marc’s attention.

  5. Excellent piece Marc. As much as I disapprove of Barack Obama’s policies and leadership, I deplore the attempts by those on the Right to delegitimize his American identity or citizenship by invoking that of his Kenyan father. This vile and brazen assault on Miliband via his father is no less different–perhaps even worse in its anti-semitic implications, and that Miliband himself is of the “other.”

      • Thats wrong, but as I’ve highlighted in previous columns it is nothing to do with antisemitism and to cry antisemitism when there is none is rubbish. People would do well to read the words of Alex Brummer in the Mail today.

  6. The part in the follow up editorial about the jealous God in Deuteronomy shows them up for what they are

  7. Meanwhile, over at the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland makes the same argument as you and is attacked by many below the line. As I state there:-

    “Standard CIF post: “I hate the Mail, but it can’t have been anti-semitism, because anti-semitism doesn’t exist because ISRAEL. I know, because unlike Jonathon Freedland, I’m not Jewish and have made borderline anti-semitic remarks on here for a decade without realising”.

    Standard CIF post about any other racism: “How dare you question the poster’s perception of racism? He/she is black whereas you are white. Check your privilege””

    I don’t share your chaps politics – I’m closer to Ralph – or your ethnicity – I’m one of the Elders of the Capel of Sion, Mid Wales branch – but I do note when you have a point. When it comes to CIF commentors, or the Mail, you have a point.

    • The accusations against any other paper of being antisemitic by the loyal Israel-basher asajew Freedland – a loyal staff member of the most antisemitic mainstream British paper is puke inducing hypocrisy.

      • …the loyal Israel-basher asajew Freedland

        Translation: Jonathan Freedland is critical of the West Bank settlements.

    • The same Guardian who in its coverage of Israel, hasn’t been immune of antisemitsm. Far be it from me but the Milliband story just seems an excuse for the left to bash a right wing newspaper and to push their ludicrous regulationary arguments of the press that would undermine freedom of expression, freedom of speech, investigative journalism and a free press.

  8. The paper used to be known as “The Daily Heil” for good reason.
    Apart from its notorious support for the Blackshirts in Britain and the proprietor’s friendship with Hitler and Mussolini, the then proprietor and ancestor of the current owners, Lord Rothermere wrote the following in “The Daily Heil” whoops I meant “The Daily Mail” on 10th July 1933;

    “I urge all British young men and women to study closely the progress of the Nazi regime in Germany. They must not be misled by the misrepresentations of its opponents. The most spiteful distracters of the Nazis are to be found in precisely the same sections of the British public and press as are most vehement in their praises of the Soviet regime in Russia. They have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call “Nazi atrocities” which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence such as are inevitable among a nation half as big again as ours, but which have been generalized, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny.”

    Conditions in Germany under the Nazi regime were already known before he wrote this ‘piece’ just look at the debates in the House of Commons held on 6th April 1933 and 1st May 1933

      • “They were wrong then, but that has nothing to do with the article now.”

        Really Mr. Hoffman.

        They were more than wrong then, they were supporting the Nazi regime. Or is supporting the Nazi regime simply “wrong” in your opinion?

        “..nothing to do with the article now.” So it is Ok for the current “Daily Mail” to make allegations about the ancestor of Ed Milliband, based mainly on something he wrote in his diary when aged 17, and ignore that he served in the Royal Navy fighting the enemies of this country. But to remind everyone of what the ancestor of the current proprietor of the “Daily Mail” wrote in 1933 supporting the regime that, this country fought and, caused the deaths of millions of lives has nothing to do with it?

        Interesting, and a good example of the flawed logic and hypocrisy I would expect from a ‘reader’ of the “Daily Mail”.

  9. I’m sorry to say this is utter tripe. The vainglorious attacks by the left of antisemitism are utter balderdash. Backed by a publicity hungry JC – who had as it’s tagline was it anti-semitic and proceeded to give room to 4 columnists who all said it was anti-semitic- if that’s fair and balanced journalism – the JC really has fallen a long way to gutter journalism. The piece whilst I personally think was wrong was not antisemitic in the slightest, it was an attack by a right-wing paper on a man’s father- who was by the way a hardcore marxist, whose ideas would have ruined Britain. Do I think they went too far with the man who hated Britain tag- yes, do I think parts of the article highlighting his ludicrous views were wrong- no. Remember Ed Milliband always bangs on about how his dad informed his politics- and with his socialist style economic ideas you can see it in action. I also find it funny that the same left wingers- some of which called for people to hold Thatcher Death parties and to dance on Thatcher’s grave are so in outrage now. Clearly its one rule for the left and one role for the right as Rod Liddle Eloquently highlighted in his Friday spectator column.

    When we see antisemitism I will be the first to condemn it, as I did with the disgraceful Sunday Times cartoons of antisemitism. This is not it and quite frankly the alarmist antisemite attacks on this article demean the word and could undermine a free press. Perhaps you think I’m being unfair but its time some perspective was provided to the Jewish community, which unfortunately the coverage so far in many Jewish Newspapers has not provided.

  10. Much as I loathe the Daily Heil, it’s a bit rich for the ‘New Statesman’ (publishing ‘A Kosher Conspiracy?’, 14th January 2002) to accuse it of anti-Semitism. We’re into serious ‘pot/kettle’ territory.

  11. What galls me about the whole debacle is the hypocrisy.

    The people falling over each other to express their offence (QT-audience types) are the same people who, only a few months ago, were organizing/attending/supporting Thatcher death parties.

    Then you have the people who are claiming its abhorrent to rake up the past when it comes to Ed Miliband’s ancestor, yet think nothing of doing the same to Jonathan Harmsworth’s ancestor. This is one rule for one – one rule for another, hypocrisy of the highest order.

    The DM article was ill-advised and tasteless – everything you expect of a tabloid (especially THAT tabloid) so why the furore? I did think Louise Minchin had it spot on the other day on BBC Breakfast when interviewing Ed when she said “don’t you think you’re milking it?”