Published On: Fri, Feb 13th, 2015

The Goldsmiths: One British Family Divided Over Its Jewish Roots

Jemima Khan, who converted to Islam and was married to cricketer Imran Khan, tweeted, "Ben, your tweets on this subject are really ignorant and offensive."

 

Ben Goldsmith & Jemima Joes & Jemima Goldsmith & Imran Khan

Just a few months ago, British financier Ben Goldsmith wedded his girlfriend of two years, lingerie model and caterer to celebrities, Jemima Jones. The wedding was attended by celebrities as well as family members, and seemed to be a show of peacemaking and closure after a couple of family rows; one, the acrimonious falling out after Ben Goldsmith’s ex-wife Kate Rothschild left him for rapper Jay Electronica, and another, an argument between Ben Goldsmith and his sister Jemima Khan over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza this past summer.

Ben, Jemima Khan and Zac Goldsmith have one prominent Jewish forebear, their paternal grandfather Frank Goldsmith, whose ancestors lived for generations in the Frankfurt ghetto. Upon emigrating to England as a refugee from Hitler’s stranglehold over Europe, he found that his German nationality was as much a cause for negative commentary as his Jewish ancestry was to anti-semites, and he anglicized his name from Goldschmidt to Goldsmith. Frank, who married a French catholic woman, rose to prominence in wealth, was a friend of Winston Churchill and was instrumental in building the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. His future grandson, Zac, would follow in his grandfather Frank’s footsteps and become a member of Parliament.

Ben Goldsmith, a financier like his father Jimmy, has always been proud of his Jewish ancestry. Ben spoke at the center for Jewish Life in 2013, and described himself as “one of those people, ” who “want to be more Jewish than they are … I’m a bit of an imposter here.” Goldsmith spoke of his love for and his connection to Israel. “It’s a laboratory for things I’m interested in.” Goldsmith, in his talk, emphasized the country’s role in medical research, information technology, and above all, Goldsmith’s particular area of interest, environmentalism. He said Israel is at the forefront, and is ahead of many European countries, in green technologies, including the widespread use of solar panels and water preservation. When asked what he thought about the discovery of natural gas by the Israelis, although Goldsmith prefers the use of alternative to fossil fuels, he said he had confidence that Israel would use the natural gas wisely and sustainably; “Anything that makes Israel stronger in an uncertain world makes me happier.” Ben Goldsmith every year takes a group of influential people on a trip to Israel and encourages investment in the country. He describes himself as “non-Jewish, but a passionate Zionist.”

During the conflict in Gaza, Ben Goldman expressed his support for Israel, and said that Israel was justified in using force against Hamas because the terrorist group, “uses its civilians to defend its weapons, ” he wrote in a tweet. His sister, Jemima Khan, who converted to Islam and was married to cricketer Imran Khan, tweeted, “Ben, your tweets on this subject are really ignorant and offensive.” Jemima, who has divorced Imran Khan and has returned to England from Islamabad, Pakistan, was dating the vitriolic British comedian Russell Brand when she tweeted the sharp criticism of her brother’s tweets. She has been an active in advocacy for the Palestinians and has been vociferous in her criticism of Israel.

Back in the late 90s, after she married Imran Khan in 1995, Jemima published an article in the Guardian alleging that the U.S. media was blinded by the Israel Lobby and the “Jewish controlled” media and entertainment industries. She wrote, “The Israel Lobby is rich and influential. The media are largely controlled by Jews … as is Hollywood, and they account for more than half of the top policy making jobs in the Clinton Administration. Peace can only be achieved once the U.S. acts as an honest broker, and the U.S. media as impartial commentators.”

In response, a lawyer for the Goldsmith family for over 30 years, Peter Simpson, said he would no longer represent Jemima Khan, because he said her article was “anti-semitic” and that she did not understand what “being a Goldsmith means.” Jemima, who wrote the article when she was living in Islamabad, Pakistan with her then husband, reported she said “horrified” by the media fallout and the hate mail that resulted from her article in the Guardian.

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith created some controversy Jewishly, but not the same degree as his siblings, when a debate in Parliament about the free press and morality inspired to make the puzzling and unsuitable analogy, “no one says Auschwitz should have been kept open because it created jobs.” MP Goldsmith apologized for the remark, but made in 2011, but only weeks later, called on the Daily Mail to retract and apologize for a “grotesque” quote a journalist alleged his father James made as an insult to Holocaust survivors. Zac Goldsmith said Daily Mail Ephraim Hardcastle thought he could get away with libeling the deceased by claiming James Goldsmith said Holocaust victims “lack the initiative” to get out of the concentration camps. The Daily Mail apologized and Zac Goldsmith said his father did not make the remark, because he lost family in the concentration camps and was close to many survivors. He also pointed out that if James Goldsmith had made such a remark, it would have been reported immediately when he said it, when he was still alive.

Ben and Kate Rothschild Goldsmith

While the cause of the conflict between Ben Goldsmith and his ex wife, Kate Rothschild had nothing to do with the fact they represented the union between two high-profile Jewish families in Britain, their very public conflict represented a rupture in a union that brought together the two households both alike in dignity. The couple were married for 9 years with 3 children, until Ben discovered sexy text messages written between his wife and rapper Jay Electronica. The stormy end of the marriage played out its final chapters on Twitter, with both Ben and Kate trading insults and recriminations publicly on the social media site in front of a perplexed public. Years after the fiasco, Kate has since split from Jay Electronica, and Ben Goldsmith at age 34, has found love again, and has wedded Jemima Jones, 27, who worked as a model of lingerie and is now a caterer to celebrities. Ben popped the question while the couple were enjoying a romantic vacation in Sicily.

The wedding was a lavish affair and was attended by celebrities and family members, including Goldsmith’s aunt, Lady Jane Rayne and Robert Lacey, his ex wife Kate Rotschild’s cousin (Ben Goldsmith’s MP brother Zac married Kate Rothschild’s sister) and Evelyn de Rothschild, although Kate Rothschild, Ben’s ex-wife, was absent. Jemima Khan seemed to have buried the hatchet over their Gaza disagreement from the summer and attended, as well as her ex boyfriends, Hugh Grand and Russell Brand. Lady Annabel Goldsmith, Zac, Jemima and Ben’s mother, attended the wedding, as well as Zac and his wife, Kate Rothschild’s sister. Celebrities Stephen Fry, Mick Jagger and Tom Stoppard were seen at the reception.

MP Zac Goldsmith / Source: Facebook

Ben, ever the environmentalist, has recently said he has gotten rid of loo roll in the bathrooms in his homes, although his wife, Jemima, says she prefers the traditional paper. Ben not only got environmental tips from Israel, but also from his trip to Abu Dhabi, where he discovered the Arabs were “geniuses” for using bidets rather than wasteful, “unhygenic” and environmentally wasteful toilet paper. He tweeted that loo roll paper contributed to deforestation, but the issue doesn’t seem to have interfered with marital harmony, according to the Daily Mail.

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