[Birmingham Ladywood MP has been branded “shameful” by leaders of Britain’s Jewish communities for protesting against a supermarket stocking goods from illegal Israeli settlements]
Elham Asaad Buaras
Birmingham Ladywood MP has been branded “shameful”, “extremely irresponsible” and accused of “stirring up tensions” and behaving in a inappropriately by leaders of Britain’s Jewish communities for taking part in a protest against a supermarket stocking goods from illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian Occupied Territories.
Shabana Mahmood was also accused of going against Labour Party policy which, according to a Labour spokesman, “does not support boycotts of Israel.”
However, the Labour MP insists she is boycotting goods from the Occupied Territories. She is also campaigning for the enforcement of guidelines by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) tackling the mislabeling of goods from illegal Israeli settlements.
Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land in the West Bank are illegal under international law and opposed by the European Union and the UK Government. However, the UK Government and the EU allow goods from these illegal settlements to enter British markets.
EU law already requires a distinction to be made between goods originating in Israel and those from the Occupied Territories, though this is not always observed and in 2009, Defra announced that traders would be committing an offence if they labelled produce from the Occupied Territories as “Produce of Israel”.
The Labour Party also supports the sale of goods from Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories. However, Mahmood disagrees with her Party. “My position on the boycott of illegal settlement goods – precisely because the settlements themselves are illegal – is a difference of view with my party that is genuinely and respectfully held,” she told The Muslim News.
Sainsbury’s store in central Birmingham was forced to momentarily shut as a result of the protest on August 2.
In her YouTube video Mahmood, who speaks for the Party on tax and growth policy, said she took part in a peaceful protest outside the store against the supermarket stocking “goods from the Israeli settlements that are illegal under international law.”
Despite there being no reports of violence in the Sainsbury protest, Board of Deputies of British Jews President, Vivian Wineman, said: “Such rabble rousing is extremely irresponsible.”
While Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Simon Johnson, went so far as to ask for an apology saying: “It is completely inappropriate for a Member of Parliament to promote public disorder that forced a supermarket to close. We believe that she has been made aware of her party’s opposition to boycotts and has back-pedalled, but an apology is yet to be heard.”
Tory MP Mike Freer, who is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel, criticised Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, for his inability to “rein in” his frontbencher.
Mahmood, who condemned the intimidating nature of another protest at the Hodge Hill, said her views have “been clear from the start.”
“I support proper labelling of goods that have been produced in the illegal settlements as per the Defra guidelines and personally chose to boycott those supermarkets that stock goods from those areas. But my choice is a peaceful one – I make my point with my wallet and my words. I hope others in Birmingham who support boycotting goods produced in the illegal settlements choose the same.”