2017 03 – obituary for Gerald Kaufman

Gerald Kaufman MP  (21 June 1930 – 26 February 2017)

The following is from David Rosenberg, of the Jewish Socialists’ Group:

Very sorry to hear that Gerald Kaufman MP has died. Although in general terms he was more on the right wing of the party he rebuilt friendships with a number of Labour MPs and supporters on the left through his outspoken support for Palestinian rights.

This was very significant because for much of his life he had been a Labour Zionist and he had the courage to acknowledge that he was on the wrong side of history on that question. He had been a longstanding member of Poale Zion (which later became the “Jewish Labour Movement”). In 2002 he launched a blistering attack on Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying:

“It is time to remind Sharon that the Star of David belongs to all Jews, not to his repulsive Government. His actions are staining the star of David with blood. The Jewish people, whose gifts to civilised discourse include Einstein and Epstein, Mendelssohn and Mahler, Sergei Eisenstein and Billy Wilder, are now symbolised throughout the world by the blustering bully Ariel Sharon, a war criminal implicated in the murder of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila camps and now involved in killing Palestinians once again.”

I had the pleasure of speaking alongside Gerald Kaufman just once. In 2009 in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s War on Gaza, the Jewish Socialists’ Group held a packed meeting in London where he and I were joined on the platform by an Israeli army refusenik and the prominent Palestinian campaigner and academic Karma Nabulsi who has held important positions within the PLO.

See https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_GQDT9t2lRs and https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jkh2kaAuI4M for Gerald Kaufman’s condemnation of Israeli war crimes.  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XgzLzDg_2EU no longer works