It should be a matter of the gravest concern. A concern for the integrity of British politics. A concern over and above those we have about the diverse causes we support.
When it comes to thinking about, speaking about, using one’s best judgment about Israel and Palestine, too many of our politicians behave with the integrity of a pre-programmed talking machine. Forget human rights, international and humanitarian law, the evidence of any number of authoritative witnesses; and even the testimony of one’s own eyes and knowledge, all this counts for nothing once the censoring pro-Zionist lobby gets to work. This lobby’s purpose is to direct and shape all public speech about Israel. This lobby has contaminated British political life, curtailing what may be said about Israel in the public realm.
Thus we have the sorry sight of Kier Starmer, Labour Party leader, withdrawing from a virtual Ramadan interfaith event after a pro-Israel lobby group alerted him to the organiser’s support for the boycott of Israeli dates produced in territories occupied by the Zionist state.
Note here that the dates proposed for boycott are grown in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, not in Israel proper. In other words, grown on stolen Palestinian land.
Despite initially agreeing to take part in the event, Starmer pulled out after the Board of Deputies, a pro-Israel lobby group, alerted him to the organisers’ Tweeted comments supporting the boycott of dates produced on Occupied Palestinian land. The Board of Deputies’ Tal Ofer tweeted he was ‘glad to see that after I raised this issue Keir Starmer withdrew his participation from the event.’
The Muslim Association of Britain, however, was ‘disappointed’ to hear that the Labour leader had pulled out ‘due to the host’s support for boycotting dates grown in Israeli settlements’.
MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) in condemning the withdrawal said:
‘Numerous UN resolutions have affirmed that settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are in breach of international law. Meanwhile, support for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against goods grown on illegal settlements or through other means deemed in contempt of international law are a legitimate form of democratic activism to promote peaceful change, regardless of where in the world such acts are being committed’.
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