Tag Archives: Raed Salah

The Israeli plot to jail Raed Salah – part 2 of 2

Since the start of October, at least 61 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces (although the death toll is rising, literally as I type) and ten Israelis (often soldiers) have been killed by Palestinians – usually youths armed with knives at the absolute end of their tether.

During this time, the Israelis have claimed that increasing tensions around al-Aqsa are nothing more than mindless Palestinian incitement aimed at attacking Jews for the sake of it, and all the talk of Israeli encroachment is nothing more than Hamas and Fatah propaganda.

But the reality is very different.

A host of perfectly legal Israeli settlers’ groups openly incite for the destruction of the Mosque and have made detailed plans about the “Third Temple” they want to replace it with. Traditional Orthodox Jewish theology held the Temple Mount to be the site of the “Holy of Holies” from the Biblical stories (the physical site of God’s presence manifest on earth) so it was considered far too sacred for Jews to enter. So these efforts are nothing to do with Jewish religious freedom, and everything to do with anti-Palestinian and anti-Islamic provocation and are yet another part of Israel’s long-term project to erase the Palestinians entirely from their own homeland.

Read more over at MEMO.

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The Israeli plot to jail Raed Salah – part 1 of 2

As is quite well known, the Palestinian body politic is split between political factions. Historically, the Palestine Liberation Organisation was split between its leftist factions (foremost among them the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and Fatah, the Palestinian national liberation movement. Since the late 1980s and early ’90s, the Islamist factions increased in popularity, with Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, leading the way.

Various degrees of competition and animosity have ebbed and flowed over the years, with the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah even degenerating into a short civil war of sorts on the streets of Gaza in 2006 and 2007.

But the reality of the “Gaza coup” was quite the opposite of what is portrayed in Israeli propaganda, which still to this day maintains it was a coup by Hamas over the legitimate Palestinian Authority in Gaza.

In fact, the reality of the 2007 coup was that it was instigated by forces within Fatah (led by by the now-disgraced warlord Muhammad Dahlan) against the elected government of the PA – Hamas swept to power in the democratic elections of 2006.

Continue reading over at MEMO.

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Scandalous attempts to smear Jeremy Corbyn belie reality about Raed Salah

On Raed Salah:

As I reported in detail back in 2011 and 2012, when Raed Salah arrived in Britain he was subjected to a vicious Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian media campaign. This campaign was instigated by the pro-Israel lobby, at the vanguard of which was the Community Security Trust, a registered charity which is supposedly an apolitical organisation established purely to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

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Is the UK’s pro-Israel lobby starting to lose?

I was pleased to be invited to be August’s guest writer for MEMO, the Middle East Monitor. I was asked to write about the Raed Salah case, so used the opportunity to revist some of the evidence. The focus of the article is what the case taught us about the waning power of the Israel lobby in the UK:

In Palestine solidarity circles the debate around the pro-Israel lobby often focuses on the chicken-or-the-egg problem: are Western governments supportive of Israel because the lobby is so influential, or does the lobby only seem influential because governments are so supportive of Israel?

A focus on this question neglects another, more crucial, aspect of the debate: how can we win? How can the tide be turned against Western governments’ support for Israel?

In April, a Palestinian political and religious leader won an important victory in the British judicial system. Sheikh Raed Salah’s successful appeal against deportation gives us a glimpse of how to answer this question.

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Court victory for Raed Salah deals blow to UK “anti-terror” policy

Published by The Electronic Intifada and protected by copyright. Republished with permission.

Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | Ramallah | 9 April 2012

After nearly ten months fighting to clear his name in UK courts, Palestinian activist Sheikh Raed Salah won his case against deportation on Saturday.

Salah is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, a political and religious organization. Upper tribunal judge Mark Ockelton ruled that Sheikh Salah’s appeal succeeded “on all grounds.”

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Raed Salah deportation case disintegrates in UK court, but verdict still to follow

Published by Electronic Intifada and protected by copyright. Republished with permission.

Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | London | 15 February 2012

The judge heading the panel assessing whether Palestinian civil rights leader Sheikh Raed Salah can be deported from the UK has cast serious doubt on the British government’s case.

CMG Ockelton, an immigration judge, said on 8 February that the original text of a poem by Salah was “completely different” from how it appeared in a government order banning him from UK territory. The original banning order had accused Salah of anti-Semitism, citing an altered version of the poem.

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EI exclusive: UK charity with Mossad links secretly denounced anti-Zionist Jews to government

Published by Electronic Intifada, protected by copyright. Republished by permission.

Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | London | 21 December 2011

An influential UK charity denounced Jewish critics of Israel in secret reports to the government earlier this year, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

The Community Security Trust (CST) is known for its work recording anti-Semitic attacks and for security patrols at Jewish communal events.

But evidence uncovered by The Electronic Intifada suggests the CST works behind the scenes with an assertively pro-Israel agenda not stated in its charitable remit. There are also serious questions over the CST’s links to the government of Israel and, allegedly, to its intelligence services.

The Electronic Intifada contacted the CST and inquired about these points, but representatives of the organization declined to comment.

In a report sent to government department the Home Office, the CST denounced several “anti-Zionist British Jewish individuals and groups” as “extreme groups,” claiming they were “unrepresentative of the vast majority of British Jews.”

Dating from August, the report was primarily an attempt to help the government in its court case to deport Palestinian political activist Raed Salah. The report expressed concern that certain Jews had “voiced support for Salah,” recommending that the “extent of their credibility to speak on these issues should be considered.”

The CST denounced as “extreme” well-known Palestine solidarity activist Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and the anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta. The report highlights that Wimborne-Idrissi is secretary of Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods.

Use of the term “extreme groups” is significant. It’s a phrase the CST usually reserves for violent far-right groups such as the British National Party, the National Front and Combat 18; or for Islamic political groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The CST sent a second document to the Home Office at the same time titled “Neturei Karta & Raed Salah” as part of a larger dossier. This four-page report suggests the group is guilty of everything from Holocaust denial to “defending” a 2008 terrorist attack against Jews in Mumbai.

Both texts formed part of the Home Office’s defense against Salah’s attempt to resist deportation. In September, a civil servant testified in court that the CST had been its “principal source.”

The full text of both secret CST reports can be read in the blog post accompanying this article.

“Pure lies”

The Electronic Intifada sent copies of the reports to the activists attacked in the documents and asked for comments.

Rabbi Yacov Weisz of Neturei Karta UK replied that the report was “pure lies” and “absolute nonsense.” He said it was no surprise to find the CST trying to marginalize his organization. Weisz said the CST was a provocative organization not wanted by many in his own Orthodox community in Stamford Hill, London, since it “plays into political Zionism.” He said there is a problem with racism in the UK, but it could be directed at Muslims just as much as Jews.

Wimborne-Idrissi said the CST does not like the fact that Jewish critics of Israel are becoming more numerous and vocal.

“Our existence shows that organizations like the Board of Deputies [of British Jews], the Zionist Federation and CST cannot legitimately claim to represent all Jews,” she told The Electronic Intifada. “We give the lie to their insistence that defending Israel is central to Jewish identity and that to defend Palestinian interests against it is synonymous with anti-Semitism.”

In a statement, IJAN said the CST was “known to many as the Zionist police… We would ask who but racists would call opposing all forms of racism ‘extreme’? It is the CST that is ‘unrepresentative’ — most of the world does not support Israeli apartheid, including a substantial and rapidly-increasing number of Jewish people.”

Lauded by government

As demonstrated in The Electronic Intifada’s coverage of the Raed Salah case, the CST has strong links with government departments — especially the Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government. In some areas CST volunteers jointly patrol with the police.

It has also been lauded by politicians at the highest levels of government. Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have both given speeches at black tie CST dinners this year.

Founded as a charity in 1994, the CST had several notable predecessors. The Group Relations Educational Trust (GRET) was founded by Gerald Ronson in 1978. Now CST chairman, Ronson wrote in his memoir Leading from the Front that he hoped GRET would “operate as a sort of umbrella organization” for the 62 Group and other militant anti-fascist groups.

The 62 Group was a street-fighting Jewish activist group formed to combat the rise of neo-Nazis in the 1960s. It reportedly specialized in infiltration and intelligence gathering.

Ronson wanted to distance GRET from such militant direct action approaches. He wrote that although he was the chief fundraiser for the 62 Group and “I was once a foot soldier out there fighting on the front lines,” he increasingly came to think that “being hooligans to fight hooligans wasn’t the smartest way.”

The CST’s immediate predecessor was the Community Security Organization — part of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. In 1994, it broke away from the Board and established itself as a new charity — the Community Security Trust.

Trained by Mossad?

Antony Lerman, founder and former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), told The Electronic Intifada that CST volunteers had in the past received self-defense training from Mossad, Israel’s overseas spy agency.

Mossad is perhaps most well known for its assassinations of Palestinian intellectuals, activists and fighters around the world. It is thought that the Mossad was behind the 1972 Beirut car bomb that murdered writer and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine activist Ghassan Kanafani. In 1986, Mossad agents kidnapped Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician turned whistleblower. More recently, it was thought to be behind the murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, in which the killers used forged passports as part of their operation.

But Mossad also claims to protect Jews, says Lerman. “On one level you can understand why” CST trained with the Mossad, he said. “One of the things the Mossad believes that it should be responsible for is Jewish security all around the world.”

The Electronic Intifada had a wide-ranging conversation about the CST with Lerman. JPR ran the first project to monitor anti-Semitism in a human rights fashion, he added. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, Lerman had “very close relations” with GRET and, later, the CST.

In the early 1990s “the Israeli government was trying to exert control over the monitoring of anti-Semitism through diaspora communities around the world,” he recalled. Lerman and the CST both resisted this, preferring to remain independent. They were “quite angry with the way the Israelis were handling this kind of thing.”

The Israelis’ list of anti-Semitic incidents “was appalling stuff,” he added. “I wouldn’t say at that time they were so much into exaggerating the problem, but they just had no real feel for what anti-Semitism really was. They would take any kind of incident, anything that involved Jews often would sometimes go down as an anti-Semitic incident when it hadn’t [really been one] and often they would miss anti-Semitic incidents as well.”

The Israel Government Monitoring Forum on Anti-Semitism at that time operated through representatives at embassies throughout the world, and “they were mostly Mossad representatives,” said Lerman.

“During that time the CST … felt they needed to keep good relations with the Board, with the Israelis, with the Israel embassy … [but] they were broadly supportive of our position throughout the 1990s,” he recalled. “During that time my experience with them as a whole was rather good.”

This didn’t last. “My relations with them began to deteriorate at the end of the ’90s and from 2000 onwards,” he said. “I from the beginning was never in agreement with this idea of the ‘new anti-Semitism.’” But the CST was “very much behind that kind of line.”

Lerman is a noted critic of this “new anti-Semitism” line. Writing earlier this year, he described it as “the notion that Israel has become the Jew among the nations and that therefore extreme criticism and anti-Zionism are a new version of the anti-Semitism that existed prior to the establishment of the state.”

He added, “The entrenchment of the concept of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ [has] so extended the range of expressions of what can be regarded as anti-Semitic that the word anti-Semitism has come close to losing all meaning” (“The farcical attack on the UCU for voting against use of the EUMC ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism,” Antony Lerman’s blog, 2 June 2011).

Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism

Lerman’s is far from the only Jewish voice critical of the the CST. Tony Greenstein is a Palestine solidarity and anti-racist activist who has blogged extensively on the CST. He has frank criticisms of their methods. “The CST has a long record of barring anti-Zionist Jews from meetings and harassing them,” he wrote on his blog in January 2009 (“Community Security Thugs Bar Jewish Opponents of Gaza War from Liberal Judaism Meeting”).

While leftist critics such as Greenstein allege the CST exaggerates or inflates its anti-Semitism figures, Lerman disagrees. “They’re not making up the numbers, it’s what they do with the information [that’s more problematic],” Lerman said. “It’s the role that they play behind the scenes with government, it’s the connections with the Israelis — whether it’s lobbying on their behalf or not, they’ve got very close relations.”

Lerman still gives the CST credit for the rigor it uses when deciding which incidents to record as anti-Semitic and which to reject. He said that it does not record incidents as anti-Semitic unless it is absolutely sure. But the “new anti-Semitism” logic means they will be predisposed to see an anti-Israel statement as being anti-Semitic, he added.

What its critics tend to agree on is that the CST conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Its latest report describes anti-Zionism as “in effect anti-Semitic” (Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2010, 8 December 2011 [PDF]).

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi said the CST “try to undermine our credibility by noting that we are small in number. They cannot acknowledge that growing numbers of Jews are breaking with the unquestioning loyalty to Israel that has been the norm in past decades.” Wimborne-Idrissi was barred from a 2009 “liberal Judaism” meeting by CST guards.

Greenstein has accused the CST of thuggish behavior against Jewish critics of Israel, and has written that CST security volunteers guard pro-Israel demonstrations and events. “Its stewards looked benignly on as the EDL [English Defense League] joined a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in August 2010 to celebrate the murder of nine unarmed activists aboard the Mavi Marmara,” Greenstein wrote on his blog (“Community Support Trust supplies false information to deport Sheikh Raed Salah,” 3 October 2011).

Lack of transparency

Although the CST claims to represent the Jewish community, it has asked for a special dispensation from the Charity Commission so that the names of its trustees are not publicly accessible (most charities in the UK have the names of their trustees listed on the Charity Commission’s website). A spokesperson from the Charity Commission said such dispensations were only given in “very exceptional” cases, such as for women’s shelters where the trustees were thought to be “in personal danger.”

However, in May 2003 the CST established a private company called Support Trustee limited. The Memorandum of Association filed at Companies House in Cardiff says Support Trustee limited acts as “trustee, custodian trustee, nominee or director of or for the charity Community Security Trust.”

According to documents filed at Companies House, the current directors of Support Trustee Limited are: Keith Black of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), Lloyd Dorfman (chairman of the Travelex currency exchange group), banker and UJIA trustee Jeremy Isaacs, solicitor Brook Land, property investor Gary Landesberg, former chairman of the British division of Jewish educational group ORT Mark Mishon, CST chairman Gerald Ronson and accountant Jeremy Trent. Its secretary is CST Chief Executive Richard Benson.

A multi-million pound operation

CST chairman Gerald Ronson is a property magnate and the multi-millionaire owner of the Heron Group. Accounts on the Charity Commission website show that Ronson’s charitable trust has donated almost £500,000 ($780,000) to the CST since 2007. In the early 1990s, he was sentenced to a year in prison for his role in the “Guinness affair.” This was a share price inflation scam The Daily Telegraph has described as the best-known British stock market scandal of the 1980s (“Famous stock market scandals,” undated).

In a 2009 interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Ronson claimed to have friends at the highest levels of the Israeli government: “He received a phone call from the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and met [current Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu, at the time a minister in Shamir’s government, while on a day-release for a medical examination,” the article states (“Interview: Gerald Ronson,” 4 June 2009).

Greenstein described the CST as “a well-paid gravy train.” Accounts available on the Charity Commission’s website show the CST spent £5.3 million ($8.3 million) in the year ending December 2010 — £2.1 million ($3.3 million) of this was on salaries and wages. It is thought to employ 64 staff, some full-time on security issues.

Last year the government announced £2 million ($3.1 million) in new funding for security at Jewish faith schools. The CST’s Chief Executive Richard Benson wrote in The Jewish Chronicle that this came in response to five years of CST lobbying (“Let’s recognize our friends,” 22 December 2010). Antony Lerman said the schools are likely to give the CST an advisory role in how the money is spent.

The CST and “infiltration”

In April and June, historian Geoffrey Alderman wrote two pieces for The Jewish Chronicle taking the CST to task for being unaccountable to the community. “What right does a completely private body that happens to call itself the CST have to involve itself in the safety and well-being of British Jews?”

Alderman is a Zionist and hostile to the Palestinian people and their supporters. In May of this year, he wrote a column saying nothing had caused him “greater pleasure in recent weeks than news of the death of the Italian so-called ‘peace activist’ Vittorio Arrigoni,” the International Solidarity Movement volunteer murdered in Gaza (“This was no ‘peace activist,’” The Jewish Chronicle, 13 May 2011).

In one of his columns, Alderman made reference to a more “murky dimension” of the CST’s work — possible “infiltration” of “extremist organizations” (“Our unrepresentative security,” The Jewish Chronicle, 18 April 2011).

What does Lerman think of that accusation? “I certainly wouldn’t rule it out,” he replied. “What I am absolutely certain about is that they’ve got connections with people who have [infiltrated]. So whether that’s through Searchlight or others, I’ve no idea”

Searchlight is an anti-fascist organization and magazine which has long been criticized by anti-fascist activists on the left for allegedly strong links to intelligence services and law enforcement entities. Its central figure, Gerry Gable, was involved in the 62 Group with Ronson.

In 1980 The New Statesman magazine published the “Gable Memo,” a secret memorandum to Gable’s then bosses at London Weekend Television. In the 1977 memo, Gable makes various accusations against a journalist, Phil Kelly, and infamously concluded: “I have now given the names I have acquired to be checked out by British/French security services … I may try somebody in the Israeli Foreign Office.”

Gable’s accusations against Kelly included that he “acted as a cheerleader on several Arab demonstrations in London” and “he could have blown the cover of a man who had infiltrated the Palestinians and some left groups” (“The Gable Memo,” Lobster, December 1992).

When the Raed Salah case came to the attention of the British government, it called on the CST for information. As reported in detail by The Electronic Intifada, government departments asked the CST to send information on Salah that they could use to ban him from entering the UK.

As Salah prepared to go to the High Court hearing that would ultimately release him on bail, the CST posted two Jerusalem court indictments against Salah on its blog. Both related to old incidents (one from 2007). And both were dated 23 June — the exact date that Home Secretary Theresa May said she banned Salah (“Sheikh Raed Salah: The Indictments,” 6 July 2011).

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the Mossad,” said Lerman. “They had close relations with the Mossad when I was working with them, and I’m sure that they still do.”

A freedom of information request to the UK Border Agency sent by The Electronic Intifada in July was finally answered this month. A request for a copy of the original banning order signed by May was denied on data protection grounds.

Israeli government links

The Israel Government Monitoring Forum on Anti-Semitism with which Lerman was at odds in the early 1990s now has a successor body called the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. The forum’s website lists the CST as one of the “members of the forum” along with the Anti-Defamation League and the Israeli prime minister’s office.

Lerman said that CST volunteers “go along at their own expense to guard Jewish sites and meetings and things of that kind. Well they get training, and I believe that the training has been done in the past by people from the Mossad, who come over and give them training in self-defense and that sort of thing.”

How likely is it that the CST lobbies politically for Israel behind the scenes?

In September, the law on universal jurisdiction was changed, making it easier for Israeli ministers and generals charged with war crimes to visit the UK. The Jewish Chronicle published an article quoting the Board of Deputies as acknowledging “the efforts of the various communal groups, in particular the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Board of Deputies, CST and Friends of Israel groups that have helped to ensure the safe passage of the bill.”

But “CST” was soon removed from the online version of the article, apparently after spokesman Mark Gardner intervened (see The Electronic Intifada’s correspondent Ben White’s screen capture).

Though Lerman’s relations with the CST have deteriorated, he thinks it unlikely that the CST would lobby for Israel in any way that would contravene its charitable status. “It would have undermined the role that they are trying to play on the issue of anti-Semitism,” he said. “Having said that, the very fact that they support the ‘new anti-Semitism’ kind of arguments … [means] they are doing the work of the Israel government, because it … is a very strong Israel government line.”

CST declines to comment

For its part, the CST has previously denied acting on behalf of Israel. Of its role in having Salah banned from the UK, the CST stated: “We did not do this on behalf of Israel or in pursuit of Israel’s policy objectives.” It said its only concern is anti-Semitism.

The Electronic Intifada wrote to the CST and asked the following questions: Why did the CST denounce Wimborne-Idrissi, Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network as “extreme”? Why did the CST do so privately not publicly? In light of Alderman’s “infiltration” comments, can you give assurances you are not involved with the infiltration or subversion of pro-Palestinian activist groups? In light of the allegation that the CST has received Mossad training, what is the current nature of the CST’s relations to the Israeli intelligence services? Did Israeli authorities help the CST with its case against Raed Salah?

The Electronic Intifada enclosed the part of the Salah report that denounced anti-Zionist Jews.

Despite having been given several days notice in advance of publication, the CST did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A phone call to the CST office three days after the original email request produced “no comment.”

Nevertheless, the CST will need to respond to these serious charges eventually. In court in September, UK Border Agency case worker Jonathan Rosenorn-Lanng referred to the CST as “the Jewish community” — yet it is clear the group does not represent the entire community. The British government should ask itself how appropriate it is to maintain such strong links to an organization so politically compromised.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who writes about Palestine. His website is www.winstanleys.org.

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Free speech and Palestinian cause a test for UK courts

Published in The National.

Last month, a British immigration court decided that Sheikh Raed Salah, a popular Palestinian leader, could be deported. Sheikh Salah has lodged an appeal in a higher court, hoping to block his removal.

But he is no asylum seeker, and has no desire to live in Britain. Sheikh Salah is appealing in order to clear his name of anti-Semitism slurs. He also says deportation would be used by the Israeli authorities to continue a campaign of politically motivated arrests.

Described by supporters as “The Gandhi of Palestine”, Raed Salah is leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel. His group is one of the most popular political forces among Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinians. He is renowned in the Arab and Muslim worlds for a popular campaign in defence of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque against Israeli encroachment.

He was visiting the UK for a speaking tour, and entered legally using his Israeli passport on June 25. He spoke at public events in London and Leicester, as well as a roundtable in Parliament organised by the Liberal Democrat peer  Jenny Tonge.

But three days after his arrival, Sheikh Salah was abruptly arrested by officers from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for “immigration offences”. This stopped him attending a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting titled “Building Peace and Justice in Jerusalem” at Parliament’s Grand Committee room. He had been due to speak there on June 29.

How is it that an Israeli passport holder legally entering the UK – invited to speak to British lawmakers – can be arrested for immigration offences?

 

It turned out that Home Secretary Theresa May had on June  23 secretly banned the sheikh from the country. But the Home Office failed to inform either him or his people. In the 24 hours before his arrest, the notoriously raucous press got wind of the story and started putting out lurid stories of a “banned extremist” who had “waltzed” through Heathrow Airport border controls.

Sheikh Salah was detained for almost three weeks, released on conditional bail only after an appeal to the High Court. In September, a judicial review found his arrest and part of his imprisonment to have been unlawful (he had not actually committed immigration offences, as government lawyers were forced to admit).

But the case didn’t end there. Now the government is seeking to deport Sheikh Salah from the country “at the earliest opportunity”. What were they actually accusing him of?

The government has banned Sheikh Salah because his presence is deemed “unconducive to the public good” due to alleged “unacceptable behaviour”. This a part of the controversial “prevent” anti-terrorism strategy, brought in under a Labour government, but expanded by the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

This elastic term “unacceptable behaviour” is a reference to allegations of anti-Semitism circulated by right-wing and pro-Israel bloggers before the Sheikh’s arrival.

 

But these allegations were based on deeply flawed evidence at best, and outright fraud at worst.

In the exclusion order, the central justification for the ban is the accusation that he wrote a poem beginning with the line: “You Jews are criminal bombers of Mosques”.

But in fact, this line first appeared in a 2009 Jerusalem Post editorial which both the exclusion and deportation orders pointed to as their source. The Post cited an Islamic Movement periodical as the source of its quote, but a look at the original reveals that portions were altered and misrepresented.

An Arabic poem Sheikh Salah did write several years ago, called A message to the oppressors, was also grossly distorted and recast as a racist attack on Jews – when in fact it was no such thing.

The editors of the Jerusalem Post are not exactly known for their sympathy towards Palestinian political activism, so you’d think the Home Office would have checked the quote. But the UKBA case worker responsible admitted under cross- examination that the agency had not been aware of the original text.

After being presented with the evidence, the judges who made the First Tier Tribunal ruling in favour of deportation conceded that the original poem was not racist. They said they “must accept” expert evidence the poem was “not directed at the Jewish people as a whole but only at those among them who aim at Israeli territorial expansion and control at the expense of the Palestinians”.

The tribunal’s decision to allow the deportation is both deeply flawed and politically motivated.

Anticipating criticism, the judges defensively wrote: “It is not our task to rubber stamp” government decisions. Nevertheless, they write, it was “not our responsibility to find that the Secretary of State has proved each item of evidence upon which she relies”.

It seems that when it comes to Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, the British government considers them guilty until proven innocent. Or in this case, guilty when proven innocent.

The UKBA has insisted the case was purely about “protecting the public”. But the judges expressed “concern that apparently the Secretary of State did not consult with any Muslim or Palestinian organisations”. They did not consult Jewish groups critical of Israel either.

Should this ruling be upheld in higher courts it would set a deeply worrying precedent for the British justice system. It means visitors accused by politicians of “unacceptable behaviour” can be expelled from the country, even when accusations against them are proven wrong in a court of law.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist based in London. He edited the newly-released book Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation

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Exclusive: Leaked emails show Israel role in UK plot to ban Raed Salah

My report, exclusive to the Electronic Intifada.

Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | London | 27 October 2011A UK immigration court ruled yesterday that popular Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah could be deported from the country, after being banned by Home Secretary Theresa May in June.

The Electronic Intifada can now also exclusively reveal new details of an Israeli government role in the UK plot to exclude Salah.

Following yesterday’s decision, Salah could now take his appeal to a higher court, and meanwhile will remain in the UK on bail. Salah’s lawyer told The Electronic Intifada yesterday that his legal team were considering the judgment very carefully and could not comment further for the time being.

The judgment that Salah could be deported for “unacceptable behavior” comes as The Electronic Intifada reveals new details of the Israeli role in Salah’s June-July detention by the UK government. Government emails obtained by The Electronic Intifada contain evidence that the Israeli embassy in London gave information to the British government later used in an attempt to deport him from the country.

“Victim of unfairness and procedural irregularity”

In their ruling the First Tier Tribunal judges accepted that Salah “has behaved lawfully throughout this matter, and that he has been the victim of unfairness and procedural irregularity … [and] was detained unlawfully for a period of time.”

The judges wrote that their decision was a “balancing exercise” between the public interest and the interests of Salah. The ruling addresses each of five main points the government used to ban Salah, reiterating the case on each side, but for the most part it does not rule on the central facts, agreeing with the government’s argument that the five points did not need to be proven.

But on one of the five points, the judges wrote that a poem by Salah “is not directed to the Jewish people as a whole but only at those among them who aim at Israeli territorial expansion and control at the expense of the Palestinians.”

The Electronic Intifada previously published private documents proving that this accusation of anti-Semitism was fabricated, as it rested on what seemed to be a malicious mistranslation of Salah’s original words. But the judges have neglected the point that it was not just a mistaken quote, but a deliberate Israeli attempt to smear Salah. They state that video evidence shown in court proved that Salah was “the victim of serious [Israeli] police harassment” but that this was “not a matter which is relevant to the central issues in this appeal.”

Opaque criteria for “unacceptable behavior”

The judges concluded that Salah’s words came within the government’s anti-terrorist “Prevent” policy, because he “engaged in the unacceptable behavior of fostering hatred.”

They did not specify on this point, saying they had reached the decision from the evidence “viewed in the round.” They elaborated: “it is not necessary to satisfy the criteria of unacceptable behavior for words and actions to be racist as such … This might be achieved by words and actions which are not necessarily racist.” They also explain that the list of “unacceptable behavior” specified by the government (including racism) was indicative and not exhaustive.

In a striking turn of phrase, the judges wrote that “although it is not our task to rubber stamp a decision by the Secretary of State [Theresa May]” it was nevertheless her decision to make rather than the court’s.

From the beginning, Salah claimed Israel had a hand in the exclusion, arrest, unlawful detention and attempt to deport him from the UK. “Israel carries the full responsibility for his detention in the United Kingdom,” a press release said at the time.

Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), at the time said to the press: “The primary cause for the arrest is Israeli pressure and the pressure of Zionist elements inside Britain” (“Raed Salah arrested after UKappearance,” Ynet, 29 June 2011).

Concerns that Israel using UK case against Salah

Salah refused to consent to voluntary deportation — the UK Border Agency (UKBA) tried to persuade him to drop his in-country appeal. Salah was concerned that, once he returns home, the Israeli authorities would use a successful deportation from Britain in their long-standing campaign against him.

In June, right-wing Israeli parliamentarian Alex Miller used Salah’s arrest to build support for his so-called Raed Salah bill, according to daily Israel Hayom. “If the British government refuses entry for this individual because of his extreme views and the fear that he might use public and academic venues to incite violence and racism, there is no reason why Israel should allow him and his kind to enjoy such activities either,” he is reported to have said (“MK Ben-Ari urges Britain not to release Sheikh Salah,” 20 June). Miller is a member of the extreme right-wingYisrael Beiteinu party, and lives on an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Relying on dubious Israeli sources, elements of the British press accused Salah of anti-Semitism — an allegation now ruled false by the court which also formed the basis of the exclusion order. Three days after legally entering the UK on 25 June for a well-publicized speaking tour, Salah was abruptly arrested in his hotel room. This prevented him from attending a public meeting in Parliament the next day, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

At the police station, UKBA officials served an exclusion order on Salah dated 23 June. The letter cited a 2009 Jerusalem Post editorial which attributed a fabricated anti-Semitic comment to Salah. The editorial said Salah wrote a poem including the comment “You Jews are criminal bombers of mosques” but the original Arabic text of the poem was in fact addressed at the Israeli occupation forces. The words “You Jews” were not in the poem and The Jerusalem Post appears to have added them.

In a July High Court hearing for bail, significant doubt was cast on this and other statements attributed to Salah in the Israeli and British press. The judge, Justice Nicholas Stadlen then freed Salah on restrictive bail. Conditions included a ban on public speaking. In September, the High Court ruled in a separate judicial review that the first few days of detention had been unlawful, and Salah was entitled to compensation.

Details of the plot against Salah emerged as the case went on. The Electronic Intifada uncovered evidence that the government had acted in collusion with pro-Israel lobbying groups in the UK.

But today, The Electronic Intifada can reveal new details of an Israeli government role in the plot.

Israeli government’s role

In a 22 June UKBA advice document used by Home Secretary Theresa May to justify her ban of Salah, case worker Jonathan Rosenorn-Lanng stated that although “this case is very finely balanced,” Salah’s alleged views had the potential to foster “inter-community violence” in the UK. Rosenorn-Lanng also said the British Embassy in Tel Aviv had been consulted: “The FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] in Israel has also confirmed that SALAH is considered to be an extremist.” Presumably, this view was based on Israeli press reports, or on consultation with Israeli officials.

Only one day before Salah flew to London’s Heathrow Airport on 25 June, a UKBAofficial emailed Alan Stewart, an official with the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, telling him about the ban and detailing British-Israeli efforts to collaborate on the case.

UKBA official Rebecca Hadlow attached a copy of the exclusion, along with a border warning from the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON), part of the UKBA’s International Group. Hadlow said the RALON notice had been issued to airlines flying direct from Tel Aviv to the UK: “If they identify him, they will not carry him.”

The alert was disseminated to the Israeli state airline El Al in Tel Aviv. But it turned out that Salah traveled on a British Airways flight.

Even then, on 24 June, the British government had still not been able to serve the exclusion order on Salah: “we did not until this morning have an address for him (I am grateful for the assistance of the Israeli Embassy in London for this).” Hadlow then gave Salah’s address and asked Stewart to arrange for the exclusion order to be couriered to him, while acknowledging that “he may not receive it before he travels.”

The same email was copied to Philip Boyle, an official at the British Embassy in Amman, who replied to Hadlow that he had “passed details of the exclusion notice to a contact in the Israeli Immigration Intelligence [sic – there is no known organization by that name] and asked to be notified if they encounter the subject leaving for the UK on an indirect route.”

The text of the RALON border warning makes it clear Salah did not know he was banned — “He has not yet been notified of his exclusion.” The UKBA knew his passport number, therefore it is logical to assume they got this information from the Israeli government, perhaps via the Israeli embassy in London. Yet somehow, the UKBA got his full name wrong, mixing up two of his names.

On 5 July, Claire Lawrence, Head of the “Middle East Peace Process/Palestine/Israel” desk at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote to Rosenorn-Lanng, saying: “Our Embassy in Tel Aviv have just let us know that a very high level delegation intend to call on our Ambassador early tomorrow, to discuss the Salah case amongst other issues.” Who exactly was part of this delegation was not revealed, although it seems a likely reference to Israeli government ministers or security officials.

Salah and his legal team are due to meet and will decide whether or not to pursue his appeal against deportation further. It remains to be seen if any higher court would act as anything other than a “rubber stamp” of the political decision to expel Salah from the UK, apparently with the cooperation of Israel.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist based in London who has lived in and reported from occupied Palestine. He edited the newly-released book Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation. His website is www.winstanleys.org.

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I talk to al-Hiwar TV about the Raed Salah affair

Al-Hiwar’s English language programme Jussor (Bridges) had me on to speak in some detail about the political persecution of Palestinian political-religious activist and leader Raed Salah in the UK.

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Revealed: UK government plotted with Israel lobby to ban Salah

Exclusive to Electronic Intifada.

Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | Birmingham | 6 October 2011

As Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah’s appeal against deportation concluded in a Birmingham court this week, new details of the UK government’s deep links to the Israel lobby have emerged.

This follows a separate High Court ruling in London on 30 September, when a judicial review into the government’s June imprisonment of Salah ruled he was entitled to damages for “wrongful detention.”

While a panel of two immigration judges is expected to deliver a verdict within 10 days of the hearing, internal government emails obtained by The Electronic Intifada show Home Secretary Theresa May moved quickly to ban Salah not long after the pro-Israel group Community Security Trust (CST) sent a secret report on him. The report contained quotes ascribed to Salah with the word “Jews” inserted into his rhetorical attacks on Israeli occupation forces, in an attempt to paint him as an anti-Semite.

In court on Monday, government barrister Neil Sheldon said, “There is no question of this being a doctored quote, or a cooked-up quote,” although he conceded that the words “Jews” did not appear in the original poem written by Salah. AJerusalem Post report cited by the government against Salah “may well have got it wrong,” Sheldon stated (“Civil Liberties,” 20 June 2009).

But Sheldon seemed to argue that this fact did not matter because that is how the poem was reported in a “respectable media outlet in Israel.”

This and other similar misquotes were then used by May as a principle source for her banning order against Salah. Salah entered the UK legally on 23 June. Neither he nor his organizers were aware of the ban, because the government had not managed to serve it on him in time.

Conservative Party funder on board of group that pushed for Salah to be banned

The Electronic Intifada can reveal that Poju Zabludowicz, a billionaire real estate magnate who bankrolls the ruling Conservative Party (to which May belongs), is named as a CST board member in a report by an expert witnesses called by Salah’s lawyers. The emails obtained by The Electronic Intifada appear to show that CST played a key role in the banning of Salah.

As well as personally funding UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign for the Conservative Party leadership, Zabludowicz’s family used to own Israeli arms company Soltam (now part of Elbit). And he has owned a minority holding in British Israel, a company with several malls — including one in the illegal West Bank settlement Maaleh Adumim.

David Miller, a sociology professor from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, was called by Salah’s lawyers to testify as an expert witness in the case. His report on the CST was entered into evidence. It includes a list names of the CST advisory board from June 2010. In court, he said the list was available in the public domain, and later showed The Electronic Intifada where it could be viewed publicly.

A spokesperson for the CST refused to comment when asked by The Electronic Intifada if Zabludowicz or several other members of the list were still board members. Sheldon said Miller’s conclusions that the CST is not a reliable source on the matter belied the list, which includes several members of parliament, lords and former and current senior police officers.

Pro-Israel group CST pushed privately for Salah to be banned

In a 17 June email to the deputy director of the Special Cases Directorate (SCD) of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Michael Whine, a CST director, said he was writing following the request of an official from another government department. Whine attached a CST report on Salah “who plans a speaking tour of the UK from the end of next week.”

The report claimed that Salah’s “record of provocative acts and statements carry a risk that his presence in the UK could well have a radicalizing impact on his audiences.”

Only 17 minutes after this report was sent, Faye Johnson, Theresa May’s private secretary, emailed SCD Director Andrew Jackson about “a parliamentary event on 29 June” at which Salah was due to speak. Johnson then asked if there was “anything that we can do to prevent him from attending (e.g. could we exclude him on the grounds of unacceptable behavior?).” It is not clear where May had first heard about Salah.

A few hours later, Jonathan Rosenorn-Lanng at the SCD sent an email askingUKBA colleagues for more information on Salah that could be used to exclude him. But it seems this request was a token, as Rosenorn-Lanng insisted he would be “going with what I’ve got in any event” — seemingly a reference to the CSTreport on Salah.

Pro-Israel lobby group asked for court sources

The previous Monday, Rosenorn-Lanng was the only witness called by the government lawyers in their response to the appeal. Under cross-examination, he had said that, although he was “not expected to be an expert on the actual issues I’m dealing with,” the recommendations he presented to the Home Secretary on exclusions from the UK were checked by people who were experts.

In court, Sheldon also named pro-Israel lobby group the Board of Deputies of British Jews as a further source for the document put together by Rosenorn-Lanng. This document led to May personally signing the order for Salah’s exclusion from the UK.

But it’s likely this is a confusion borne of out of Michael Whine’s dual roles at both the CST and the Board of Deputies. As well as being director of “Government and International Affairs” at the CST, Whine also holds a director’s position at the Board of Deputies and has written a journal article for the CST on European governmental responsibility toward “combating anti-Semitism” (“Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Diplomatic Progress in Combating Antisemitism,” 2010 [PDF]).

Although Whine sent the report on Salah from a CST email address on 17 June, and with the CST mentioned in his signature, the deputy director of the SCDreferred to him as “Mike Whine at the Board of Deputies.”

Although CST predecessor, the Community Security Organization, used to be part of the Board of Deputies, the CST established itself as a charity independent of the Board in 1994 following certain changes in charity law. The CST was granted a special dispensation by the Charity Commission allowing it to withhold public release of the names of its trustees.

Goverment’s only source was anti-Palestinian group

Salah’s barrister Raza Husain had asked why Salah’s hosts in the country had not been consulted by the government or their advice sought on Salah. He also asked why they had not consulted a group like Jews For Justice For Palestinians, who issued a statement in favor of Salah’s right to speak in the country.

Pressed by Husain on this point over the whole three days of hearings, the government was unable to point to a single outside group whose advice it had drawn on, apart from the CST and the Board of Deputies (taken in the context of the emails, it seems both were via Whine).

Husain told the court he was not aware of any primary document in the report to Theresa May compiled by Rosenorn-Lanng that was not from the CST (apart from a “communities impact assessment” from the another government department). Sheldon’s reply was that, if that was the state of the evidence, “that’s the evidence.”

He later said it was “simply not the case” that everything from the CST was “taken at face value,” and he gave the example that a CST report referred to Salah’s presence on the Mavi Marmara as part of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Rosenorn-Lanng had said the government discounted an accusation used in a CSTsubmission that Salah might have been involved in indoctrination that led to an attack on Israeli naval commandos as a “rumor.”

But it also emerges from the emails that even May recognized that the case was “very finely balanced.” May’s private secretary Faye Johnson said as much in an email dated 23 June, 4:26pm, to SCD Deputy Director Rod McLean, thanking him for his submission. This submission is seemingly the documents assembled by Rosenorn-Lanng, who had in court described the CST as a “principal source.” But once Salah had been arrested on 28 June, some civil servants advised May against deportation because he had a ticket to leave the country on 5 July anyway, and arrest would only attract more attention to the case.

Husain’s argument was: if the case was so finely balanced even when only a report from a group biased against Salah had been received, how did the scales tip now that Salah’s side of the story had been heard in court?

Salah’s exclusion order an an affront to free speech

Sheldon’s argument was that the exclusion decision taken by May was something she is democratically accountable for, and that the Tribunal should be “very slow” to substitute its own view for hers, because it had an incomplete jurisdiction. He argued that the accusations against Salah in the document assembled by Rosenorn-Lanng were not counts of an indictment that had to be proved, and that the question for the Tribunal was, was there sufficient evidence for May to base her decision on. He characterized the evidence as disputed.

Husain took exception to that, saying the judges had to deal with the material on its own terms. He argued that the true aim of the exclusion order was to block free speech, pointing to Faye Johnson’s emailed reference to Salah’s scheduled meeting in the Houses of Parliament.

Sheldon argued that Salah’s presence in the country would have the effect of radicalizing “elements of the Muslim community.” Sheldon said Salah had been convicted in Israel of funding charities linked to Hamas and that it was a misrepresentation of a revised indictment to say this related only to charitable work.

Asked by The Electronic Intifada for a response to the accusations heard in court, Mark Gardner of the CST wrote, “It is a disgraceful slur to claim that CST’s attitudes to antisemitism are based upon the assumed religion or ethnicity of those concerned. We completely reject any insinuation that CST used ‘doctored’ quotes. You should note that there was a Guardian article which carried similar accusations to those you are making. They changed it following our legal intervention.”

This last comment seems to be a reference to a Guardian article by David Hearst, who also had access to some of the government emails, to which an amendment notice is appended (“May warned of weak case against Sheikh Raed Salah,” 26 September 2011).

Should Salah win his appeal, the government is likely to challenge the ruling. Since he is a well-known leader of peaceful popular resistance against the Israeli occupation, UK government collusion with Israeli authorities has already caused a great deal of damage to Britain’s reputation in the Arab world. A deportation would only increase such damage.

When the law has just been changed to allow Israel’s former foreign minister and war crimes suspect Tzipi Livni to freely visit Britain even while Salah remains on restrictive bail, one can accuse the UK of rank hypocrisy.

Asa Winstanley is a freelance journalist based in London who has lived in and reported from occupied Palestine. He edited the book “Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation,” out in October. His website is www.winstanleys.org.

 

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UK government conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism in Salah trial

Published by Electronic Intifada.

Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | Birmingham | 30 September 2011

Renowned Palestinian activist and religious leader Sheikh Raed Salah was at theUK’s Sheldon immigration court in Birmingham this week. His appeal against the government’s decision in June to ban him from the country is now being heard in earnest, with testimonies from Salah and several expert witnesses on Monday and Tuesday. In a related development, the High Court in London today ruled that part of Salah’s dention in June was unlawful.

For the first time, the government named as a “principle source” in its case against Salah the Community Security Trust (CST), a registered British charity with a record of smearing critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, and the only non-government source named in court. A day-one promise to check on further sources was not fulfilled on the second day.

Leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Salah entered the UK legally on 25 June for a speaking tour that included the Houses of Parliament. While Home Secretary Theresa May later said she banned him on 23 June, the Home Office now admits it had not told anyone about the exclusion order — least of all Salah or his tour organizers.

Salah was arrested on 28 June and detained for almost three weeks until released by a High Court judge on restrictive bail conditions. The Home Office is seeking to deport him, but were initially blocked from doing so when Salah launched an appeal.

The Electronic Intifada was in Birmingham, closely following the two-day proceedings. A panel consisting of Senior Immigration Judge N.W. Renton and Immigration Judge C.J. Lloyd listened quietly as witnesses were called by the legal teams of Salah and the Home Office.

Day one: Government witness cross-examined at length

Acting for the government, barrister Neil Sheldon called a single witness: Jonathan Rosenorn-Lanng, a senior case worker with the UK Border Agency (orUKBA, a part of the Home Office). Acting for Salah, Raza Husain then spent almost the entire day Monday cross-examining Rosenorn-Lanng.

Rosenorn-Lanng was the case worker from the UKBA’s Special Cases Directorate who prepared the secret document presented to the Home Secretary used as the basis for the exclusion order against Salah. Although he repeatedly emphasized under cross-examination that he was just a case worker and “would not pretend to be an expert at all” on Israel and the Palestinians, he said evidence he presents to the Home Secretary in such cases is always checked by experts in the relevant country or by “community experts.”

Husain pressed him to reveal precisely who had first asked for Salah to be banned from the UK, and who were the sources. Rosenorn-Lanng said he didn’t know how the case first came to the attention of the Home Secretary, but he claimed “the Jewish community” had felt threatened by Salah’s presence. Husain asked who exactly he meant by “the Jewish community,” pointing to several passages from the document. Rosenorn-Lanng confirmed four specific portions were obtained either directly from the CST, or from the CST via the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government.

Husain then questioned the credibility of the CST, citing the testimony of their witness Dr. Robert Lambert, retired head of the Metropolitan Police’s Muslim Contact Unit. Dr. Lambert testified that the CST “often tends to be biased” when it comes to Muslim criticisms of Israel, regularly conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Rosenorn-Lanng said the UK government considers the group to be “fair and balanced.” At one point he commented that “we haven’t used every single thing the CST sent to us” and also pointed to a “small [UKBA] research team that has access to a number of websites.”

Salah’s attorney pressed Rosenorn-Lanng on places the CST (and hence also theUKBA) had misquoted, misrepresented and taken out of context Salah’s words to make it appear as if he was an anti-Semite. The UKBA document even has quotes from Salah in which the word “Jews” is inserted, it was said in court. Husain asked if the witnesses considered it misleading that in one version of a quote he had rendered the words “you Jews” outside of quote marks whereas in another version it was inside quote marks. Rosenorn-Lanng said it wasn’t misleading, characterizing it as a different presentation based on updated evidence.

Husain said the actual target of Salah’s condemnation was not Jews in general but the Israeli state, saying he was clearly not referring to notable Jewish critics of Israel such as Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe or Geoffrey Bindman (a British lawyer who put up some bail money for Salah).

Rosenorn-Lanng attempted to defend the credibility of the CST, at one point making the Freudian slip of describing it as a “eminent Israeli organization” before correcting himself that he meant to say “eminent Jewish organization.”

Salah accuses his critics of deliberately misquoting him

On Tuesday, proceedings accelerated as Salah’s team squeezed three DVDs of video evidence and all four of its witnesses in before the end of the two-day slot allocated by the court system. Dr. Stefan Sperl, an expert in Arabic poetry from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, gave an analysis of the original text of a poem by Salah called “A Message to the Oppressors” saying it was addressed to all “perpetrators of injustice,” whether Jews or not. He said aJerusalem Post article characterizing it as anti-Semitic was deliberately misleading. A version with the words “you Jews” inserted into the poem seems to have been used in the UKBA document.

Dr. Lambert, the retired head of the Metropolitan Police’s Muslim Contact Unit, testified in person that while the CST had a good record in the realm of public safety in terms of its role in providing security for Jewish communities, it was difficult for it to understand that legitimate political grievances with Israel and anti-Zionism were quite distinct from anti-Semitism.

David Miller, a sociology professor from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, submitted his report on the CST as part of the evidence, and provided a copy of that report to The Electronic Intifada. It gives a short history of the CST and its “controversial monitoring of pro-Palestinian activists,” summarizing that it has a “tendency to treat denunciation of Israel or Zionism as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

Although perhaps most famous for its role in recording anti-Semitic incidents, and providing security for the UK Jewish community, the CST has been accused by some in that community of having a deeply pro-Israel agenda. Tony Greenstein, an anti-Zionist activist and blogger with a strong record of criticizing anti-Semites, has written about occasions when CST security have removed or barred Jewish anti-Zionists from public meetings. Greenstein also says the CST refused to record an anti-Semitic attack left on his blog because the commenter was a Zionist (see “CST Thugs Violently Eject 2 Jewish People from Zionist ‘Environmental’ Meeting”, “Community Security Thugs Bar Jewish Opponents of Gaza War from Liberal Judaism Meeting” and “When is an anti-semitic attack not anti-semitic? When it’s a Zionist who is being anti-Jewish,” Tony Greenstein’s blog).

But the centerpiece of the second day was the testimony of Raed Salah himself. Confidently speaking through a court translator, Salah assertively challenged Sheldon’s cross-examination and the government evidence for misrepresenting his words. On several occasions, he challenged Sheldon to quote him more fully and in context, questioning why he stopped some quotationss short.

For example, the words “you Jews” had been inserted into the original text of Salah’s poem (without even square brackets), seemingly by the Israeli press (“Civil liberties, The Jerusalem Post,” 20 June 2009).

That Jerusalem Post article was cited by UK bloggers who campaigned against Salah, such as Michael Weiss, to misleadingly portray him as an anti-Semite. Rosenorn-Lanng had earlier admitted that the UKBA had not sought the original text of the poem, relying instead on Internet sources (“PSC comes to Parliament …,” The Telegraph politics blog, 29 June 2011).

But Salah was clear that the poem was addressed to all perpetrators of injustice, regardless of religion, race or group. He pointed out that his poem also addressed Arab oppressors with certain references to the Quran, and also addresses Pharaoh as an oppressor. Salah said according to a certain historical interpretation of the Biblical and Quranic stories, Pharaoh was an Arab. And that he had oppressed the followers of Moses. “God is not a racist,” Salah said.

Aside from the mangled version of his poem, the other main citation the government gave was a speech Salah gave in Jerusalem in 2007, in which he had talked about Israeli soldiers shedding the blood of Palestinians. The citation had reportedly included the line: “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread.”

Hostile press coverage in Israel inserted the word “Jewish” in square brackets before the words “holy bread” (“Islamic Movement head charged with incitement to racism, violence,” Haaretz, 29 January 2008).

But Salah’s legal team argued that he was actually referring to the Spanish Inquisition.

When Sheldon accused Salah of invoking the classically anti-Semitic blood libel, Salah countered: “this interpretation is out of bounds, and has no origin in fact.” He then went into some detail, saying that his purpose had been to liken the Israeli occupation forces to the inquisitions in Europe that used to shed the blood of children, and which used religion to perpetuate injustice.

Another government accusation against Salah was that he had encouraged Palestinians to become “shahids” (martyrs) in defense of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Rosenorn-Lanng had repeatedly used the Arabic word instead of the obvious translation. Salah again patiently went into some detail to explain the meaning of the word martyr. He clearly stated that, should the Israelis ever demolish al-Aqsa Mosque, he and other Muslims would refuse to leave the mosque, even it it meant their martyrdom at the hands of the Israelis.

There was a similar government attempt to misrepresent the word “intifada,” which Sheldon classified as dangerous language. Salah explained he was referring to a civic uprising against injustice, and as proof of this pointed to his call in the relevant speech to lawyers, heads of state, scholars and political parties to join the intifada.

At the end of the second day, the hearing was adjourned until Monday, 3 October, when the two attorneys will sum up their cases. After that, a judgment is expected within ten days.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Raed Salah is still living in London on bail, and must regularly report to the authorities, wear an electronic tag, refrain from addressing the public and observe a night-time curfew. Salah could return to Palestine if he chooses, but is staying in order to clear his name, and challenge the government ban.

Asa Winstanley is a freelance journalist based in London who has lived in and reported from occupied Palestine. He edited the book “Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation”, out in October. His website is www.winstanleys.org.


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