Veteran British MP and champion of Palestinian rights dies

Veteran British MP and champion of Palestinian rights dies
'Father of the House' Gerald Kaufman has passed away following a nearly five-decade career in UK politics, when he consistently addressed Israeli crimes despite his own Jewish background.
2 min read
27 February, 2017
Kaufman [centre-right] was a long-standing critic of Israel [AFP]
The UK's oldest serving member of parliament Gerald Kaufman has passed away, after a 46-year career in politics where he made Palestinian rights hey to his efforts.

Gerald Kaufman served his Gorton constituency in Manchester from 1970, making him the longest serving MP.

But the politician was probably best known for his opposition to Israeli policy and his lifelong allegiance to the Labour Party.

"Sir Gerald dedicated his life to serving those who he believed would benefit most from a Labour government and Labour values in action," his family said in a statement.

Kaufman was born in Leeds, but had Jewish relatives in Nazi-occupied Europe who were killed during World War 2.

He would make frequent comparisons to the behaviour of Israeli soldiers to the Nazis, and the struggle of Palestinians to Jews during the Holocaust.

"My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her hometown. A German soldier shot her dead in her bad. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza," he once famously remarked.

Kaufman also campaigned for sanctions on Israel, similar to those imposed on South Africa during the years of Apartheid.

The 86-year-old's constant campaigning for the Palestine cause and criticism of Israel made him a sometimes divisive figure among fellow British-Jews, including accusations of anti-Semitism.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the fellow left-winger as "an iconic and irascible figure" within the party.

"He loved life and politics. I will deeply miss him, both for his political commitment and constant friendship," Corbyn said.

An online book of condolence has been set up by Manchester City Council for tributes to the veteran MP.