UK Labor chief's mom backs Jewish anti-blockade group

Group behind boat supported by Miliband's mother, other prominent British Jews, uses Rabbi Hillel quote as political slogan.

September 26, 2010 19:22
2 minute read.
Miliband Brothers

Miliband brothers 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the British organization which organized the boat sailing for Gaza on Sunday, has over 1,600 signatories including Marion Kozak, the mother of recently elected Labor leader Ed Miliband, according to its Web site.

In an interview over the phone from the UK, Naomi Wayne, a co-founder and acting treasurer of the left-wing group, confirmed Kozak's support and laid out her organization's manifesto.

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"Our slogan is Rabbi Hillel's quote that which is hated by you do not do to your neighbor," she said. "We want the end of the occupation and for Israel to sit down and speak with all the Palestinians. We believe the occupation itself is a violent act...What we are hoping to do by sending the boat is reach Gaza in a very peaceful and friendly way. We do not believe people should be locked in without being able to leave."

Jews for Justice for Palestinians was founded in 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada. Besides Kozak other well-known signatories include Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, actor and comedian Stephen Fry, and the late playwright Harold Pinter.

During the interview, Wayne rejected the argument that her organization's actions were simplistic and failed to take into account the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We are all very highly educated, Jewish and very aware of the situation," she said. "We understand its a complex issue, but we think that this a very friendly thing to do and that the people of Gaza should be able to come and leave."

On the matter of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been held by Hamas in Gaza for over four years without being allowed access to Red Cross representatives, Wayne said her group did not hold the Palestinians to a lower standard.

"As far as we are concerned there's no question we are behind Gilad Schalit, we want him to be released," she said. "We also want all the Palestinians in Israeli prisons to be released and allowed access to the Red Cross."

Wayne said she believed that Israel must talk to Hamas, because "you don't make friends with your friends, but with your enemies," and added that she also had expectations from the Palestinians.

"We want Palestinians to recognize Israel exists, it is a territory with people and is not going to go away," she said.

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