Miliband vs. Miliband Feud Ends as One British Jewish Brother Comes to New York

David Miliband Leaves Ed Behind To Run for Prime Minister

All in the Family: David Miliband is quitting politics and moving to New York, leaving his brother, Ed, to run for prime minister.
getty images
All in the Family: David Miliband is quitting politics and moving to New York, leaving his brother, Ed, to run for prime minister.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published April 05, 2013, issue of April 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

It was perhaps the most consequential Jewish brother vs. brother feud since the biblical Joseph was packed off to Egypt. It ended, appropriately, during Passover. That’s when former British foreign minister David Miliband announced, two and a half years after losing a bitter Labour Party leadership battle to his little brother Ed, that he was quitting politics and moving to New York.

David Miliband, 47, will take over in September as president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, the massive, blue-chip American refugee and disaster relief agency. The committee was formed in 1933 at Albert Einstein’s urging to rescue Jewish intellectuals and socialist activists from Nazi Germany. It’s now active in 40 countries, with a staff of 12,000, a budget of nearly a half-billion dollars and a board that includes Kofi Annan, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice. It’s come a long way. So, in short order, will Miliband.

In his March 27 resignation letter to party leaders, Miliband cited his lifelong efforts “to make a difference to the disadvantaged and vulnerable” and the vast resources the IRC can marshal. But he added a telling personal note. Recalling the organization’s anti-Nazi roots, he wrote that “given my own family history there is an additional personal motivation for me. I feel that in doing this job I will be repaying a personal debt.”

As most of Britain knows, his late father, Ralph Miliband, a celebrated sociologist and Marxist scholar, came to England in 1940 as a teenage Jewish refugee, together with his Polish-born father, on the last boat out of Nazi-occupied Belgium. First introduced to socialism as a member of the labor Zionist youth group Hashomer Hatzair, Ralph went on to become one of Britain’s most renowned social theorists. His widow, scholar-activist Marion Kozak, survived the war hidden by nuns in her native Poland.

Both brothers speak frequently about their background as children of Holocaust survivors and their debt to Britain for saving their parents. Yet they rarely refer to themselves as Jewish, more often calling themselves atheists of Jewish background. Both have sharply criticized Israeli actions in the territories, but both insist they are devoted friends of Israel.

They’ve publicly pursued their roots in Eastern Europe. David demonstratively visited the family gravesite in Warsaw during a state visit in 2009. Ed was contacted in Moscow that year on a radio call-in show by a long-lost cousin, Sofia Miliband, and skipped an official meeting to visit her. David met Sofia a year later. He returned in 2012 for her 90th birthday. He described the relationship and the double impact of the Holocaust and Communism on his family in a touching newspaper article, ending with a quote from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks about the importance of memory.

Lately, though, the Miliband family history that most interests the public is the one unfolding now — the fraternal rivalry that’s rattled the Labour Party, upset their mother and apparently ended what was once considered Britain’s most promising political career.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.