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June 26, 2017 12:45 pm

UK Government Threatens to Cancel Hamas-Linked Event Featuring Speaker Who Called Jews ‘Sleazy Thieves’

avatar by Ben Cohen

Jeremy Corbyn (fourth from left), leader of the UK Labour Party, carries a “Friends of Al-Aqsa” banner at a past demonstration in London. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A Palestinian cultural festival in London next month is set to provide a platform to a group of activists known for their consistent hate speech against Jews and Israel — including one speaker who has described Jews as “sleazy thieves” — unless the British government follows through on a threat to cancel the event because of the organizers’ support for Hamas.

The two-day festival, entitled “Palestine Expo 2017,” is to be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Center in central London on July 8 and 9. But the strident support for Hamas of the expo’s organizers — the “Friends of Al-Aqsa” (FOA), an Islamist organization based in the city of Leicester — led government minister Sajid Javid to warn in a June 14 letter that he was considering canceling the event.

As secretary of state for the Department for Communities and Local Government, Javid is responsible for the operation of the Queen Elizabeth II Center. Revenue from the hire of the center is paid directly to the British government.

In his letter to the FOA, Javid cited “concerns that your organisation and those connected with it have expressed public support for a proscribed organisation, namely Hamas, and that you have supported events at which Hamas and Hizballah — also proscribed — have been praised.”

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The FOA was a sponsor of the recent “Al-Quds Day” march in London, where dozens of Hezbollah flags were flown. Speakers at the rally which followed blamed the fire earlier this month that engulfed a public housing apartment block in west London  on “Zionists.”

If the expo does go ahead, attendees can expect to hear similarly antisemitic rhetoric from many of the invited speakers. The group includes Miko Peled — a former Israeli — who campaigns on behalf of the BDS movement and advocates the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

In September 2016, pro-Palestinian students at San Diego State University were forced to cancel an event featuring Peled after his antisemitic posts on Twitter were brought to light, including a reference to Jews as “sleazy thieves.”

In other Twitter rants, Peled has compared security staff at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv to the “Gestapo” and has welcomed Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

Other speakers joining Peled include Malia Bouattia, the former president of the UK National Union of Students (NUS) known for her frequent outbursts against alleged  “Zionist” political control; Ben White, a Christian BDS advocate and occasional contributor to the Qatari media outlet Al Jazeera, who has attacked “Jewish privilege” and expressed understanding for antisemitic attitudes; and journalist John Pilger, who has described Israel’s military operations against Hamas in Gaza as a “holocaust denied.”

On Monday, Friends of Al-Aqsa responded to the government’s threat of cancellation by publishing the message “The Show Will Go Ahead” on its website.

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