UK Labour leader facing criticism for Iftar withdrawal

UK Labour leader faces condemnation for withdrawing from Ramadan event and siding with BDS critics
2 min read
23 April, 2021
Keir Starmer is being criticised for withdrawing from a Ramadan event because of an organisers support for a boycott of Israeli products.
Keir Starmer became leader of the Labour Party in 2020 [Getty]

British opposition leader Keir Starmer is facing criticism for pulling out of a Ramadan interfaith event, after being told that the event organisers supported a boycott of Israeli products from occupied lands. 

The Labour leader was informed by the Board of Deputies, a pro-Israel lobby group affiliated with the World Jewish Congress, that the organisers had promoted a boycott of dates grown on in illegal Israeli settlements. 

Starmer was due to attend the virtual fast-breaking meal, hosted by the Ramadan Tent Project on Wednesday. 

The decision was taken by his office, after they were made aware of comments and tweets by the organisers that declared their support of a boycott of Israeli products that had been produced on illegal settlements. 

The Ramadan Tent Project was founded in 2013 and since then has organised events during the month of Ramadan for people of all backgrounds around the world. 

The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) released a statement condemning the move by the British politician and expressing their disappointment, describing it as “bewildering”. 

“Boycotting good grown, processed or packaged on illegal settlements that are built in contempt of international law is not contentious in any way,” the statement read. 

“We stand in solidarity with all activists, organisations and individuals who support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and we urge Sir Keir Starmer to urgently review his position regarding this important issue to bring it in line with international law,” they continued. 

MAB also pointed to the strong support that the BDS movement has within the Labour Party, citing a YouGov poll that suggested 61 percent of its members were in favour of boycotting Israeli products from illegal settlements. 

Read more: Palestine solidarity is alive and well this Israeli Apartheid Week

The controversial move by Starmer was welcomed by Tal Ofer from the Board of Deputies, who tweeted on Tuesday that he was, “glad to see that after I raised this issue Keir Starmer withdrew his participation from the event.”

Current Labour leader Starmer was elected to the position in 2020, taking over from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, who was branded by some as an anti-semite and faced heavy criticism of his support of Palestine. 

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