The leader of Brent Council, Muhammed Butt, has written an article for the Times of Israel and the Jewish News in which he says he has “no time for boycotts,” “Israel offers hope,” and “Zionism is a legitimate belief.”
Labour’s Muhammed Butt had already apologised for sharing a clip which showed a re-enactment of a Palestinian girl being shot by an Israeli soldier (although it is not clear if Mr Butt realised it was a re-enactment), which at the bottom claimed “Israel is a terrorist state like ISIS.”
Butt shared the post on April 16 but has since removed it after it was brought to the Labour Party’s attention.
However, now Butt has gone much further, penning an article which expresses admiration for Israel.
He wrote: “ISIS represents nothing but fear. Israel, however, always offers hope. Right from its Declaration of Independence, it pledged itself to democracy, the rule of law and the equal treatment of minorities – an inspirational determination that was born at a time when much of the world lived under dictatorship.”
He continued: “My Jewish residents will have parents, siblings and children in Israel. That’s why I have no time for boycotts. As far as I can see, it does nothing for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It only provides more ammunition to those who wish to divide and polarise.
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“What it does do is make our own Jewish community feel isolated and disturbed as to why the world’s only Jewish state appears to be the focus of the most vociferous boycott movement.
“So when boycotters wanted Brent to cancel its contracts with vendors who do business in Israel, the decision to say no was one of the quickest and easiest I have had to make.”
He added: “For me the Chakrabarti report has not gone far enough. I would have liked it spelled out that not only should Zionist not be used as a term of abuse, but that Zionism is an entirely legitimate belief.”
Butt’s words are likely to cause consternation in the Muslim community which is staunchly pro-Palestine and anti-Israel.
Israel was created in 1948 after Zionist settlers colonized Palestinian land and expelled around 750,000 people though a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during the 6-day war with Egypt, bringing all of historical Palestine under its rule.
Israel has launched brutal wars on Lebanon twice – in 1982 and 2006; it continues to occupy the West Bank and Jerusalem, implementing harsh security measures against its Palestinian residents; it keeps Gaza under military and economic siege; and within Israel itself, Palestinians live as second-class citizens.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS is a global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the stated goals of the movement: the end of Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the Golan Heights, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.