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April 22, 2021 1:22 pm
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UK Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer Pulls Out of Ramadan Event After CEO of Sponsoring Group Revealed as Supporting Israel Boycotts

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Sir Keir Starmer speaking during the Labour leadership hustings at the SEC centre, Glasgow, February 15, 2020. Photo: Jane Barlow via Reuters.

The leader of the UK Labour party pulled out of a Ramadan event after the controversial anti-Israel views of the CEO of the sponsoring organization emerged in the media.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Sir Keir Starmer was set to attend a virtual Iftar event marking the meal breaking the Ramadan fast, held by a group called the Ramadan Tent Project.

The Project is a self-described outreach group that, it says, works to bring “communities together to better understand each other.”

But Starmer withdrew from the event after he was informed about previous actions by the Project’s CEO Omar Salha. In one case, Salha had endorsed boycotting Israeli products, tweeting, “This #Ramadan, Don’t Eat into #Palestine.”

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The Labour party does not endorse boycotts of Israel, and has been working for several years to repair its relationship with the Jewish community, which collapsed while the party was led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Salha was also found to have supported a Twitter group called Cage, which engaged in support for terrorism, such as praising an ISIS terrorist as a “beautiful young man.”

At the time of writing, the Cage Twitter page, which describes itself as “working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror” and “reviving divine justice,” contained retweets endorsing the idea that “US wars” are “genocide” in order to denounce US recognition of the Armenian genocide, claiming that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “ties to Israeli lobbying groups,” and lamenting the alleged torture of al-Qaeda terrorist Al Hajj Abdu Ali Sharqawi in Guantanamo Bay.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called Cage a “toxic group.”

“Time for those who stand for the values of justice and liberty to support UK Cage and not be intimidated by the powers that be,” Salha said in 2017.

It was also revealed that the Ramadan Tent Project had praised the Muslim group Mend in 2019.

The Board of Deputies said in 2016 that it would not collaborate with Mend because the group’s approach would cause “increasing hostility and suspicion between the Jewish and Muslim communities, rather than building trust and empathy.”

The Board of Deputies’ Tal Ofer, who brought Salha’s boycott support to the Chronicle’s attention, said, “I don’t really understand why Keir Starmer is going to participate in an event of an organization whose CEO’s views are clearly unsavory.”

“His team should check the background of the people in these organizations,” he said.

“We expect the actions to be louder than the words. They should be judged on the actions not just on the words,” Ofer said of the Labour party.

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