LONDON – Anti-Israel activists sharply criticized the socialist British daily the Morning Star for referring to Israel’s national bird the hoopoe in its daily quiz.

In a letter to the newspaper, Linda Claire, the chairwoman of Manchester’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, asked why it had referred to the bird after it has “always been the newspaper you could rely on to support the cause of the Palestinians.”

“Maybe you don’t support the methods chosen by the international solidarity movement of BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel] to assist the Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and justice,” she said, adding that this included any reference to Israel’s wildlife.

“Despite its condemnation of zionists [sic] it yet finds space to include an item in its daily quiz about Israel’s national bird. Is the Star not aware there’s a cultural boycott going on?” Claire’s husband, George Abendstern, asked in another letter.

“And then, despite it’s [sic] condemnation of the Bahrain Grand Prix and rightly so, it then goes on to tell us who won. For goodness sake comrades, get your act together,” Abendstern continued.

After a letter appeared condemning the couple’s stance, the anti-Israel activists said, “It was not the bird we object to but what this bird represents – the racist and apartheid State of Israel.”

Meanwhile, a Manchester bookstore has canceled a launch for a book on Palestinian terrorist and plane hijacker Leila Khaled, whom it described as “the young woman who hijacked a passenger jet in 1969.”

Blackwell’s bookstore in the Manchester city center was set to host a launch of the biography Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation, written by Sarah Irving, a Manchester-based journalist who has written for The Guardian.

A notice on the bookstore’s website on Thursday said: “Our launch of the Leila Khaled biography on May 24 has been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Paul Thornton, the manager of the store, said they had a large number of calls about the event, which led to some concerns.

“There were a number of concerns raised which we wanted to investigate and we have put the event on hold. We did not receive any threats but the number of emails and calls we received meant we couldn’t really run the shop,” he said on Wednesday.

Writing on her blog, Irving said: “It is, of course, a measure of the desperate rearguard action which apologists for the actions of the State of Israel are currently fighting that they feel the need to close down all debate and discussion of issues around Palestinian history, politics and culture.

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