In Ed Miliband, the Labour Party has its first leader from a Jewish background. “Background” is the word to remember because, as with Benjamin Disraeli, Ed Miliband’s father renounced his faith. Isaac Disraeli joined the Church of England and allowed his children to flourish in the sectarian English establishment of the day. Ralph Miliband joined a creed more mystical than Anglicanism, the now-lost religion of socialism.
Like Ed and David Miliband, I am a “red diaper baby” from an atheist home that was closer to Marx than Moses. I had no contact with Jewish religion and precious little with Jewish culture. But I was a “Cohen” and so came to know about hostility to Jews.
It has taken me a while to realise that you can learn much about the characters of non-Jewish Jews by watching how we deal with soft and not-so-soft antisemitism. Writers and politicians from privileged backgrounds should be grateful. We have the opportunity to discover racism – to feel what being the target of racism means – denied to most of our contemporaries. A consistent opposition to prejudice in all its forms ought to follow.
The alternative is to emulate Sam Finkler, Howard Jacobson’s protagonist in The Finkler Question..
Carry on reading