Labour leader Kier Starmer has come under sharp criticism for withdrawing from a virtual Ramadan interfaith event after a pro-Israel lobby group alerted him to the organizer’s support for the boycott of Israeli dates produced in territories illegally occupied by Israel.
Starmer had been asked to attend the virtual fast-breaking meal, hosted by the Ramadan Tent Project on Wednesday. Since its founding in 2013, the group has organized some of the UK’s largest annual community events during Ramadan and in one year hosted over 100,000 people from all backgrounds in over ten cities and four continents.
Kier Starmer now refuses to even attend a virtual Iftar where people who boycott Israeli dates are in attendance.
A vote for Labour is a vote for apartheid. https://t.co/zJbMBkkoGG
— ashok (@broseph_stalin) April 22, 2021
Despite agreeing to take part, Starmer pulled out after the Board of Deputies (BoD), a pro-Israel lobby group affiliated with the World Jewish Congress (WJC), alerted him to the organizers’ previous comments on Twitter including a tweet supporting the boycott of Israeli produced dates.
On Tuesday, the Board’s Tal Ofer tweeted he was “glad to see that after I raised this issue Keir Starmer withdrew his participation from the event.”
‘Jewish News’ reported that Labour sources confirmed the Leader’s Office took on board concerns from the Board raised about the organizers.
Kier Starmer cancelled Iftar because it's racist to peacefully oppose this ideology https://t.co/Ld2r1V7Nna
— Naadir (@naadirjeewa) April 22, 2021
The decision has been met with condemnation from pro-Palestine groups.
The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) said that it was “disappointed” to hear that the Labour leader had pulled out “due to the host’s support for boycotting dates grown in Israeli settlements”. The group pointed out that goods produced by Israel in illegal settlements contravene international law.
A YouGov poll that showed that 61 percent of Labour members supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was also cited by MAB in its statement.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)