Hate After Death: Gerald Kaufman and “Virulent Zionists”

The recent death of long-serving British MP Sir Gerald Kaufman has generated numerous obituaries in the UK media. Kaufman, though Jewish, had a significant track record of vicious attacks on Israel, regularly going beyond legitimate criticism.

As the Jewish Chronicle notes:

Sir Gerald was a controversial figure. His years of anti-Israel activity drew criticism from the Jewish community, but it was his repeated antisemitic comments which brought the most serious anger.


In 2015, he was recorded saying the British government had become more pro-Israel in recent years.


He said: “It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations to the Conservative Party – as in the general election in May – support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things, bias the Conservatives.”

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Other “highlights” include:

  • Calling Israel an “international pariah” and “rogue state;”
  • Urging economic sanctions on Israel;
  • Accusing Israel of exploiting Holocaust guilt to justify its actions in the Gaza Strip;
  • Comparing Hamas terrorists in Gaza to Jewish resistance fighters during the Second World War;

But the hate continues from beyond the grave. The Independent‘s obituary refers to Kaufman’s “courage” in promoting causes he was invested in (emphasis added):

The courage also showed more than once on the Israel issue. Kaufman protested at the entry to Britain in 1972 of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, co-plotter with Yitzhak Shamir in 1948 in the killing of 91 Arabs, Jews and British in the King David Hotel bombing. And in April 2002 he attacked Ariel Sharon in the Commons for his readiness resort to violence, racial prejudice against Palestinian Arabs and general unfitness for high office. As brave as true, it was a splendid defiance of the standard smear from virulent Zionists that that Jews criticising Israel are “self-hating”. Kaufman was Jewish, Leeds Jewish, Polish immigrant Jewish, even a Zionist, of a civilised and deeply troubled sort. He spoke as a proud Jew, but not proud of Israel under Sharon.

While the outcome of the King David bombing was undoubtedly tragic, Begin and Shamir did not plot to deliberately kill anyone. Phone calls warning of the bombing were sent by Begin to provoke an evacuation with the specific intent to avoid civilian casualties. That the British ignored the warnings resulted in a high casualty figure.

The author of the obituary then promotes the falsehood that pro-Israelis, in this case “virulent Zionists,” are somehow able to intimidate critics of Israel and particularly Jewish critics. Many Jews legitimately criticize Israeli policies, including Israelis themselves and there is nothing brave about doing so.

The obituary simply ignores how Kaufman regularly crossed the line into demonization and delegitimization when it came to Israel, instead claiming that Kaufman was a brave figure standing up to a smear campaign by “virulent Zionists.”

Yet, according to the author, Kaufman was “even a Zionist, of a civilised and deeply troubled sort.” As if Zionists are not civilized sorts?

Unfortunately, Sir Gerald Kaufman’s hateful attitude towards Israel has followed him on to the pages of his own obituary, courtesy of The Independent.

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