Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sir Gerald Kaufman (1930-2017) RIP

"Tributes are pouring in for veteran [UK] Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, who died yesterday at the age of 86. Sir Gerald had been suffering from an undisclosed illness.

"As the longest-serving Member of Parliament, Kaufman had the title Father of the House of Commons. Although, as the BBC has pointed out, he was a 'practicing Jew', Sir Gerald was also one of the most vocal critics of Israel in Westminster. Over the decades that he was an MP, he called for sanctions against the Zionist state for its policies towards the Palestinians; described the country as being born out of Jewish terrorism; and compared the Israeli army to Nazis...

"Prior to his election as an MP in 1970, Kaufman worked as a journalist... He visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories on numerous occasions and published a book - Inside the Promised Land - in which he expressed his personal view of Israel and his disillusionment with the country...

"In April 2002, at the start of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, Kaufman called Israel an 'international pariah', and accused its then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of ordering his troops 'to use methods of barbarism against the Palestinians.'

"The veteran politician served as shadow foreign secretary from 1987 to 1992 and said that it was 'time to remind Sharon that the Star of David belongs to all Jews and not to his repulsive government. His actions are staining the Star of David with blood.' He urged South Africa-style economic sanctions against Israel in a 2004 Guardian article.

"During the 2008/9 Israeli military offensive against Gaza - so-called Operation Cast Lead' - Kaufman accused Israel of exploiting Holocaust guilt to justify its actions in the Palestinian enclave. He also compared Hamas's fighters in Gaza to the Jewish resistance during the Second World War, making special reference to the construction of tunnels that ensured both groups' survival.

"Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, himself a strong critic of Israel, described Kaufman as an 'iconic' figure within the party." (UK veteran Labour MP who called for sanctions against Israel dies at 86,

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