by Hugh Fitzgerald
Keir Starmer, who replaced the obsessively anti-Israel and antisemitic Jeremy Corbyn as head of the Labour Party, and has repeatedly reassured British Jews of his sympathy and support, has just pulled out of participating in a Ramadan event, a virtual Iftar dinner, following revelations about the head of the sponsoring organization. A report is here: “UK Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer Pulls Out of Ramadan Event After CEO of Sponsoring Group Revealed as Supporting Israel Boycotts,” by Benjamin Kerstein, Algemeiner, April 22, 2021:
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.”
On the contrary: the Ramadan Tent Project is intended to prevent non-Muslims from understanding Muslims better by concealing as much as possible the texts and teachings of Islam, and instead offering the feelgood outreach of breaking bread – virtually — together at an Iftar dinner, where nothing of substance about Islam will be discussed, and the non-Muslims present will bask in the warm computer-screen Zoom glow of their new, true friends: their accommodating Muslim hosts, so eager to please those non-Muslims who, the Muslims hope, never find out that the Qur’an describes them as “the most vile of created beings” (98:6), and in dozens of verses encourages violent Jihad against them, to fight, to kill, to smite at the necks of, to strike terror in the hearts of the Infidels. This Iftar dinner is one more of those outreach events — there are so many — where the “war-is-deceit” Muslims, well-versed in taqiyya, can with practiced smiles-and-wiles pull the wool over the eyes of the gullible Infidels.
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.”
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.”
So Omar Salha, the CEO of the Ramadan Tent Project, supports the boycott of Israel that the Labour Party is on record as opposing. How was it that this came to the attention of Keir Starmer only after he had accepted an invitation to attend, and that the information about the unsavory Omar Salha did not come from any vetting by the Labour Party itself, but from a Jewish group that looked into his account on Twitter? How complicated would it have been to simply take a look at the tweets sent out by Omar Salha? These days, checking someone’s Twitter account is the absolute minimum of vetting needed before endorsing them – and attending even a virtual Iftar dinner put on by Salha would have been publicized, and interpreted by some as Starmer’s endorsement of him.
Even more disturbing than Salha’s supporting a boycott of Israel, which Keir Starmer has promised to everywhere oppose, is his support of a twitter group called Cage. Among the tweets at the Cage were many endorsing terrorism, including one that described an ISIS murderer as a “beautiful young man.” Not a group with which, through a virtual Iftar Dinner arranged by Omar Salha, Keir Starmer would want to be associated.
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 Cage Twitter page is all about empowering “communities impacted by the War on Terror,” which means – we can all read between the lines — promoting the interests of, that is, “empowering,” Muslims alone, for it is the Muslims who are the “community impacted” by the War on Terror. It is Muslims who are subject to a higher degree of surveillance, for perfectly legitimate reasons, than non-Muslims. And what does “reviving divine justice” mean? This refers not to man-made laws, but to the “divine justice” of Islam, that is, to the Sharia, the Holy Law of Islam, which will be applied worldwide when Islam everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule, everywhere.
This site – Cage – that Omar Salha supports, also describes US wars as “genocide,” a bizarre description of American interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were meant not to kill off the inhabitants, but to provide both Iraqis and Afghans with better lives by freeing them from the barbarous despotisms of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, respectively, and an attempt to create in both countries, however imperfectly, a semblance of democracy. It cost the U.S. a total of six trillion dollars in a good-faith effort to improve the lives of Muslims in the two countries. Both interventions proved to be ghastly mistakes, both were extraordinarily costly, both ended in failure, but they were not “genocides.” That charge was made at Cage’s twitter account as part of a tu-quoque defense of a real genocide by Muslims – that of the Armenians by the Turks – by saying that the U.S. had no right to accuse the Turks of genocide when it was guilty of genocide itself in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The charge made on the Cage’s twitter account that Boris Johnson has “ties to Israeli lobbying groups” is flatly untrue. There are no such ties. Johnson has declared his government’s opposition to the ICC’s attempt to prosecute Israel, because Israel has not signed onto the Rome Statute and thus never agreed to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, The ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is simply acting ultra vires. No “Israeli lobbying groups” have been involved, either in this, or in any other of Boris Johnson’s other pronouncements on Israel..
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.”
Mend – Muslim Engagement and Development – is a group that in its own words works on “Empowering British Muslims across the UK to tackle Islamophobia by getting involved in media & politics. Report Islamophobia.” It is a group that attempts to influence media coverage of Muslims, working to report on, intimidate, and silence those who are critics of Islam by, among other tactics, affixing the all-purpose label of “Islamophobes” on them. It also attempts to finance and otherwise promote Muslim politicians and those non-Muslim political figures who support Muslim causes, including opposing Israel at every turn.
The Jewish Board of Deputies has refused to work with Mend, aware that the group uses non-Muslims only to further its own agenda.
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.
Upon receipt of the information about Omar Salha, the CEO of the Ramadan Tent Project, which was hosting an Iftar dinner to which Keith Starmer had accepted an invitation, Starmer promptly announced he would not be attending after all. This should be applauded; it shows that Starmer’s determination to oppose antisemitism has not diminished, and extends to banning any semblance of conferring approval on those who, like Salha, support a boycott of Israel. Starmer’s change of heart was also prompted by Omar Salha’s connection to two other Muslim groups, brought to his attention by the Jewish Board of Deputies. The first is the Cage, a Muslim group whose twitter account includes tweets praising an ISIS murderer as a “beautiful young man” and defending Muslim Turks against charges of genocide of Christian Armenians by invoking the tu-quoque argument, insisting that the U.S., too, is guilty of “genocide”(against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan). Salha has also been involved with Mend, a group that demonizes critics of Islam as “islamophobes” and works to silence them.
There is a lesson here, and not just for Keith Starmer, but for all those who are inveigled into interfaith events – whether as simple as a virtual Iftar dinner, or engaging in any of the many feel-good outreach efforts, such as Open Mosque Nights, where Muslim hosts envelop their non-Muslim guests in such warmth as to banish all mistrust, even as they present a ludicrously pollyannish version of Islam to their guests, who come away with a warm feeling but no real knowledge about Islam. Before accepting any of these seemingly innocent inveiglements, we Infidels – and especially those, politicians or celebrities, who by their mere presence will be assumed to have approved of their hosts and the evening’s events. Imagine if Starmer had attended the virtual event, and then the views and company kept by his host Omar Salha had come out.
When invited to any similar outreach event, virtual or in person — do some research on the Muslims behind these efforts. Is there any information about them to be gleaned from the Internet? Do they have a Twitter account — like that of Omar Salha –that you can examine? If invited to an Open Mosque Night, find out beforehand what you can about that mosque’s imam and others who will be in charge of the event. What can you find out from their online record? Does the mosque itself have a reputation for “moderation” or “extremism”? Has there been any trouble with previous imams or the pillars of the local Muslim community who attend that mosque? Do a bit of searching. By their tweets shall ye know them.
Interfaith outreach with Muslims sounds innocent, but it almost always ends with the unwary non-Muslims coming away with dreamy misinformation about Islam and Muslims. They’ve been given a performance of nonstop self-pitying taqiyya. Some Infidels emerge apologetic for the way “Muslims have been so misunderstood — I really had no idea until tonight — and so mistreated.” How do they know that Muslims have been “mistreated”? Because they are told so, by those with a vivid Oriental imagination, embroidering a tale of woe.
The non-Muslims at these interfaith gatherings have almost certainly learned nothing of consequence, beyond the Five Pillars, about the faith itself. Nothing about the dozens of Jihad verses that discus them, the Infidels, about how they are to be regarded, about how they are to be dealt with. Nothing about the many antisemitic verses in the Qur’an, nothing about why Muslims are instructed “not to take Jews or Christians as friends, for they are friends only with each other.” Nothing about nine-year-old Aisha, Muhammad’s last and favorite wife, nothing about the Jewish girl Saafiyah, whom Muhammad – after having had her father and brothers killed, and her husband Kinana tortured to death — took as a concubine, nothing about Muhammad’s attack on the inoffensive Jews at Khaybar, nothing about his personally taking part in the slaughter of the 600-900 bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza, nothing about the assassinations of those who had mocked Muhammad, Asma bint Marwan, Ka’b bin al-Ashraf, and Afu ‘Afak, nothing about the two famous hadith of Muhammad, where he insists that “war is deceit” and “I have been made victorious through terror.”
Instead, at these affairs, from the Iftar Dinner to the Open Mosque Evenings to which non-Muslims are invited, about Islam they learn only the Five Pillars of Islam: the Shehada (the Profession of Faith), the Salat (the five canonical prayers), Zakat (the charitable tithe), Sawm (the fasting during Ramadan), the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims should make at least once in their lives, if they can). The visitors are not told that in reciting the five canonical prayers the Muslims are cursing the Infidels seventeen times a day. Nor do they learn that the Zakat they give as charity can only be given to fellow Muslims, not to Infidels.
At the Open Mosque Nights, once the fulsome greetings, the smooth speeches about misunderstood tolerant peaceful Islam, and the tortuous Q-and-A are finished, it’s time for the most important part of the evening: the free food, which the visitors look forward to with such expectation. (This couldn’t, of course, have taken place at the virtual Iftar to which Keir Starmer had been invited by Omar Salha.)
.The visitors are impressed with the mix of Muslim cuisines, from North Africa to Pakistan, on offer. At these mosque nights – I’ve attended a few — the hijabbed Muslimas bring out from the kitchen the platters of humus, tabouleh, pita bread, naan, curried chicken, lamb vindaloo, fruit juices, and at the end, the inevitable baklava and kunafeh. And how impressive the human warmth exuded by the Muslim hosts trying so hard to win their visitors over, mixing protestations of undying friendship with the lament that, “yes, alas, we are too often misunderstood by others.” And “islamophobia is a real problem, and it’s only getting worse,” to which the visitors, of course, as they carefully fill their plates, nod in sympathetic agreement..
Had Keir Starmer attended that Iftar on Zoom, as the leader of the Labour Party, he’d have been “seated” on the screen next to Omar Salha. The press release from the Ramadan Tent Project the very next day would have provided a list of the British notables in attendance; Sir Keir Starmer’s name would likely have led the list. Quite a PR coup for Omar Salha and his Ramadan Tent Project, and quite damaging to Keir Starmer once the truth about Omar Salha came out. Fortunately, Starmer was warned about Omar Salha, and pulled out in time.
Keir Starmer has learned a lesson. He should not have to rely on the Jewish Board of Deputies or the Jewish Chronicle to find out about Omar Salha and all the other omar-salhas who will cross his path. He needs – the Labour Party needs – a researcher who will exhaustively vet such outreaching Muslims as Omar Salha, before being inveigled into attending a gathering arranged by them, so that no more such potential embarrassments occur. And this is a lesson not just for the Labour Party leader, but for many others who need to look before they leap, and find themselves lending legitimacy to Muslims who feign moderation, like Omar Salha, but on closer inspection, including a tell-tale trail of tweets, turn out to be anything but.
First published in Jihad Watch.