Does the Daily Mail have a problem with Jews?

Does the Daily Mail have a problem with Jews?


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2013

In a commentary for this week’s JC, I examine the chequered record of a newspaper that accused the Labour leader of disloyalty to Britain because his father was ‘a Jewish immigrant’.

That, a reader might be led to assume, is reason for treason. The Mail, I add, knows exactly what it’s doing. Read the commentary here.

In the same issue, the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland writes: ‘You didn’t have to be Jewish, to adapt an old phrase, to feel queasy at the Daily Mail’s attack on Ralph Miliband.’ Read him here. The novelist Linda Grant takes a similar view.

The Mail is owned by Lord Rothermere and his family trust. If Ed Milliband is to be accused of being the son of a ‘man who hated Britain’, what are we to make of Lord Rothermere, who inherited his title from the gentleman below? The one to the right of Adolf Hitler.


rothermere hitler


  • I think that you mean to the left.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Jew-baiting is just one of several noxious m.o.’s by the Mail to outrage the reactionary curtain-twitchers who read it. The racism and homophobia it spews is also disgusting.

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    Jews, Muslims, Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, Arabs, Travellers, Unemployed, Blacks, Socialists, Women, Gays, Guardian readers, EU, Germans, the French, transexual teachers, intellectuals, etc. etc. At least Jews have no need to feel especially singled out for opprobrium.

  • Tony says:

    People in glass houses never learn about throwing stones.

    In 1938 the Daily Mail wrote: “The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage.” Less than two months before the beginning of the war, Lord Rothermere sent a telegram to Hitler writing: “My Dear Führer, I have watched with understanding and interest the progress of your great and superhuman work in regenerating your country.” “The British people, now like Germany strongly rearmed, regard the German people with admiration as valorous adversaries in the past, but I am sure that there is no problem between our two countries which cannot be settled by consultation and negotiation…I have always thought that you are essentially one who hates war and desires peace.”

    Around the same time Rothermere donated money to the British Union of Fascists and used his paper to openly support Oswald Moseley in 1933.

  • Malcolm James says:

    And how many Tory MPs of the Thatcher and later eras are, or were, the sons or daughters of Jewish immigrants? They’re bashing Ralph Miliband because he was a leftie and they are using whatever they can from his background to smear him. If he had not have been Jewish, they would have found something else. Which, of course, doesn’t make it any less disgusting.

  • Tony says:

    In 1993 The Mail ran a story that a “Gay Gene” had been discovered which offered “hope” for them to be aborted before birth.

    This paper plumbs the depths of bad taste.

  • Michael says:

    Freedland and Grant are right: the Mail’s pieces were unequivocably anti-Semitic. Vile reading – and you don’t need to delve into the Mail’s history to make that point, although doing so makes it uncomfortably compelling.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      On the other hand The Guardian, their paper, publishes almost every day articles attacking Israel by people who assure us they are in no way antisemitic, and publishing cartoons depicting Netanyahu as the stereotypical murderous Jew as shown from the Middle Ages to the Nazis. Many of those in the left reacting with synthetic and hysterical outrage here would of course defend those. Why look for coded antisemitism when you can see the overt version in the “progressive” press?

  • DavisA says:

    I have no time for the Mail but the main thrust of their article did not attack Milliband for being a Jew but being a left wing Marxist whose views put him at odds with the democratic values of this country. I’m afraid I had my fill of such left wingers during my time at university. Marxism is a proven failed system which, in the Soviet Union, was also anti-Semitic, as well as causing untold misery to millions.

    • It seems that this repugnant rag’s gaffe (and that’s being unwarrantably polite about it) has cut little ice with those celebrated bastions of socialist fundamentalism Lords Moore and Heseltine or Nick Clegg.

      If Ralph Miliband’s view of all British institutions was as negative and trenchant as it has recently been portrayed in some quarters, why on earth would he have served in the British Navy and, for that matter, why would he even have remained in Britain?

      I doubt that Ed Miliband will sue but, were he to decide after all to do so, he could hardly be blamed for that.

      I hope that the rag’s circulation will fall accordingly, although I’m not holding my breath.

    • Gary Carpenter says:

      He’s been dead for 18 years and the article is an indefensible disgrace. It is malicious and cowardly. The Daily Telegraph, not known for its radical socialism, reprinted this obituary today:

  • I’ve nothing much to add to the comments here, which largely and rightly condemn the kind of gutter politics which the Daily Mail has been displaying – and not for the first time – in the recent disgusting and crude hatchet job on the character, beliefs and reputation of the distinguished academic Ralph Miliband, who, being dead, cannot defend himself. The attack is literally dripping with cynically manufactured conflations which are based mainly, and loosely, on the diary entries of a 17 year old refugee – who incidentally, far from hating Britain, went on to fight bravely for this country in World War II in the Royal Navy.

    It was also, of course, a not so indirect attack on Ed Miliband as leader of the Labour Party, and certainly no Marxist, for his stand against the Murdoch press and others in the Leveson Inquiry, whose recommendations for statutory regulation may possibly prevail in the Commons in the near future. This ulterior motive makes the attack and the way it was done all the more disgraceful.

    However, nice though it is speaking to like-minded people here, I would urge you to use twitter and other fora to express your views on a wider stage – the Daily Mail both deserves and needs to experience such broad dissaprobation.

  • Tully Potter says:

    My understanding is that the original Daily Mail piece on Ralph Miliband was written by Geoffrey Levy who, as his name suggests, is Jewish. The deputy editor of the Daily Mail is Jon Steafel, also Jewish. During my 25 years on the Mail staff, many Jewish journalists were employed. As I have not been able to read every word of the Mail’s coverage, I cannot comment on any possible anti-Semitic content, but I rather doubt that there was any.

  • Eugene says:

    I don’t know if it is appropriate to link to an outside publication such as this, but I’m giving it a try:

  • I believe it is relevant to attempt a larger perspective by observing that in Britain’s case skepticism about someone’s political allegiance on the basis of their religion has for centuries been greater with regard to Catholics than to Jews, who can become Prime Minister, while Catholics may not.

    • What utter nonsense. Tony Blair was Catholic. A Catholic could have been PM under law since, I think, 1830.

      • Tony says:

        Tony Blair was not a Roman Catholic Prime Minister. He expressed interest in joining the faith, but there was certainly widespread dismay among RCs – including me.

        • As far as I am aware he was received into the Church. In any event, the principle stands: a Roman Catholic can be prime minister

          • Nigel says:

            Tony Blair did not become a Roman Catholic until after he had resigned the office of Prime Minister.

          • Malcolm James says:

            He became a Catholic in the second half of 2007, i.e. he waited until he had stepped down as PM. Still, i’m not aware of any law preventing Catholics from being PM.

  • IainRMuir says:

    The article was about politics and, since Ralph Miliband chose to stick his head above the parapet in the first place, was perfectly legitimate. He was not a private individual. And he joined the Royal Navy to fight Germany – surely that is obvious.

    Those who disapprove of the Mail, don’t have to pay for it, unlike the BBC.

    • Tom Hewitt says:

      Are you implying that joining the Royal Navy the fight Germany was a bad thing?

      • IainRMuir says:

        Claiming that he joined the Royal Navy out of support for Britain is sentimental nonsense and is not supported by well documented comments he made about Britain at the time. Far more likely that he joined to fight the country that forced his family to leave mainland Europe in 1940.

        • Will Duffay says:

          By ‘well documented’ do you mean private notes he made in his diary as a 17 year-old?

          But setting that aside, the notion that he hated his adopted country is obviously absurd. If the Mail had said he criticized or wished to change, then they’d have been on safe ground. But ‘hated’? No. Anyway, as others have pointed out today, the Mail is far more full of hate for things British than any member of the Left.

          And the final, usual, Daily Mail dig at the BBC. This week the BBC has been criticized for giving excessive airtime to anti-global warming views. It attempts balance, sometimes misguidedly, but is never as partial, twisted, unpleasant, venomous, vindictive and mendacious as the Daily Mail.

          • IainRMuir says:

            “It attempts balance” on global warming – really? Ask David Bellamy.

            The BBC not “partial, twisted, unpleasant, venomous, vindictive and mendacious”? How about the panel shows which seem to serve no useful purpose other than to provide third rate, “edgy” comedians with a regular income?

            The fact remains, Ralph Miliband was a political figure whose opinions did not appear to change from 17 onwards. He has no more right to immunity than any other.

            And as I pointed out, buying the DM is entirely voluntary.

          • I Abramov says:

            In that case, can we expect an end to sneering comments about Carol and Mark Thatcher’s parents on the BBC? As pointed out above, Ralph Miliband was not a private figure.

            Cuts both ways.

          • Tony says:

            It is staggering that there are people who are quite happy to read the Mail’s comments and to accept them as some kind of perverse expression of “fair comment”.

            They are not “fair comment” in any sense at all. They are vicious and wilfully distorted manuafactured abuse towards someone who is unable to defend himself, and the motivation is transparently uniquely to undermine Ed Miliband because the Daily Mail does not like him. Playground bully stuff. As for turning up at a Miliband family memorial service to compound the insult, the Mail management needs its heads examined – are brown-shirts compulsory at the Mail?

            In my job I get to travel a lot and the British media make a laughing stock of themselves by behaving like this. What will it be next? Will we tolerate fake stories about Nigel Farage’s granny biting the heads off whippets or Ed Balls molesting old ladies’ poodles in the park? It is time for the Daily Mail finally to grow up and to behave responsibly. This sort of loutish behaviour undermines the credibility of all newspapers, not just the Mail.

        • Ian Muir, have you actually read the Daily Mail “essay” (sic) in question, because I think you’ve missed the point entirely? The ‘politics’ is not the issue!

          The Daily Mail has every right to disagree with the political position of any person in the public eye, and to do so robustly. What they have no right to do is to traduce the character and reputation of a dead man in order to attack his son. It certainly has no right to post online a picture of Ralph Miliband’s grave with the punning strapline ‘Grave Socialist’.

          If, unlike senior members of the Tory Party such as Michael Heseltine, or Liberals like Nick Clegg, not to mention thousands upon thousands of comments online, you don’t consider this kind of journalistic behaviour to be entirely wrong, then I don’t consider you worth engaging with on this subject.

          • Mike Schachter says:

            Sanctimonious claptrap. Some of us are capable of thinking for ourselves without guidance from nonentities like Clegg and Heseltine. Why not move to a country where newspapers conform to your fastidious tastes?The rest of us can get on with reading what we please without your invaluable advice .

  • Anthony Gafson says:

    Having just read Robert Harris’s new book “An Officer & a Spy” my immediate reaction was that this all seems rather familiar!

  • David Hooper says:

    Tony – you need to calm down. The Milibands are dyed-in-the-wool politicians more than capable of fake outrage or dishing it out when it suits, and the DM is a tabloid, that’s all.

    Believe it or not, people other than you are capable of filtering what they read and if Cameron’s background is fair game (or, for that matter, Thatcher’s, Obama’s, Churchill’s etc), so is the Milibands’.

    • Tony says:

      I am quite calm – I find it quite funny. The supreme irony of all this is that the greatest beneficiary of the mud-slinging is no-one but the Daily Mail’s staunchest hate-figure du jour – Ed Miliband. The greatest victim is the Mail’s credibility and their shockingly bad editorial judgment. Double whammy.

      Everyone in politics is used to the media and to being treated as the Messiah one day and as dreck the next. That is part of the job. Miliband and his party know that this treatment means one thing more than anything else: he is being regarded as a serious politician and their party likely to do well at the next General Election. If the best these rednecks can come up with is a hateful bit of bad taste nonsense about a letter from his father from when he was 17, and then pestering his senior relatives at a memorial service, then Ed Miliband will have an easy time.

      There is a difference from usual here because to describe a deceased Jewish refugee from the Holocaust who escaped to fight for Britain in WW2 as a leftie Britain-hating traitor is several steps too far. All politicians of all parties will support Miliband’s protests because it feels a bit too close to home and they know a line (red?) has to be drawn before all sorts of nonsense ends up about them in the papers.

    • DavisA says:

      I agree. Everyone can surely see by now that Milliband’s perceived outrage was aimed at hijacking the Tory Conference – a point made tonight on another satirical media slugfest.

  • Peter says:

    What maybe drove the 17 year-old Ralph Milliband to write that he (almost) wanted Britain to lose the war? There was a lot of anti-semitism in Britain then, and had been for years. Check up some of the comment around the time of Jack the Ripper, for instance. Perhaps, for instance, the young Milliband had just been informed by the parent of some middle-class girl that he was not welcome at the house, and why. We’ll never know.

    What is certain is that at this time a great many mature people in the world (and not just in Germany and Italy) did not just almost want Britain to lose the war, they wanted Britain to lose it. They included people in India and other parts of the non-white Empire, people in the USA (before they entered the war) people in Russia (before the war entered them) , people in France (so we could join them in defeat), people in the Republic of Ireland, and so on.

  • Paul Jocre says:

    Well, this is a higher standard of comment than I’ve found on other sites, The anti-semitism in the Mail’s piece is secondary, but present, despite the author and deputy editor being Jewish. What will dish Paul Dacre will be the release of any tape of his actual speech on a normal day at the office: I doubt if his readers are prepared for such an obscene onslaught on all their cherished standards of propriety. I expect Ed Milibans has such, and is biding his time….