Gerald Kaufman, who died on Sunday at the age of 86, was one of the most prominent Jews in British politics and one of the staunchest critics of Israel’s policies.
Kaufman, a son of Polish Jewish immigrants, was the oldest serving member of parliament, first elected as a Labour Party representative in 1970.
And while Kaufman was always proud of his Jewish heritage, he was never shy when it came to criticizing Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, going, according to the Times of Israel as far as comparing Israel’s military actions to those of the Nazis who murdered his family members. “My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town,” he said after Israel’s 2009 war in Gaza. “A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.”
Kaufman supported boycott on Israel and was called out at least once by his party leaders for a comment that was seen as anti-Semitic after he argued in 2015 that “Jewish money” was driving the Conservative Party’s support for Israel.
Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, who is also Jewish, said Sunday that Kaufman’s “principles, values and friendship will be sorely missed.”