British Labor Leader Miliband Arrives in Israel, Meets With Local Counterpart Herzog

First Jewish leader in his party's history due to visit family in northern region.

Haim Zach / GPO

British Labor leader Ed Miliband arrived in Israel Thursday morning for the start of a two-day visit, meeting first for breakfast with Labor Knesset members led by party chairman Isaac Herzog, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Later in the day Miliband was to take questions from students at Hebrew University in Jerusalem before going on to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. In addition to Jerusalem, Miliband was scheduled to visit Tel Aviv and Sderot, and on Saturday meet with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. .

The first Jewish leader in British Labor party history, Miliband was also due to visit family members in the north. His grandmother moved to Palestine after surviving the Holocaust, while his parents, also Holocaust survivors, moved to England.

In a 2012 article in the New Statesman, Miliband discussed his Jewish identity: For me, my Jewishness and my Britishness are intertwined. My parents defined themselves not by their Jewishness but by their politics. They assimilated into British life outside the Jewish community. There was no bar mitzvah, no Jewish youth group; sometimes I feel I missed out.

He added, though: I did not miss out on many other aspects of Jewishness: my mum got me into Woody Allen; my dad taught me Yiddish phrases (there is no better language for idio­matic expressions, some of them unrepeatable). And my grandmother cooked me chicken soup and matzo balls.