MEMO reports that the Immigration Tribunal has upheld the Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to ban the Palestinian leader, Shaykh Raed Salah, from the UK.
Readers may recall that Raed Salah was arrested soon after arriving in the UK for a number of speaking engagements including a meeting scheduled in the Houses of Parliament in early July. It soon emerged that a number of Jewish groups including the McCarthyite outfit the Community Security Trust had lobbied the Home Secretary to issue a banning order against Raed Salah alleging that he was anti-semitic.
As I said at the time, I thought the Home Secretary’s decision was extremely short-sighted and constituted a grave failure to stand up for free speech. We already have robust laws on incitement to racial hatred and if Raed Salah was going to use his visit to incite racism – as the CST clearly wanted us to believe – then he could have been prosecuted under our existing laws and he would have had no one to blame except himself.
But, of course, that is not what the CST and other Israel Lobby groups wanted as they well knew that Salah would not do that. Indeed, Raed Salah had already completed some speaking engagements prior to being arrested and we know that there were police observers present at those events and there is no question that he had said anything unlawful at those events.
What the Israel Lobby were clearly worried about was that Raed Salah would give convincing first hand accounts of the racist apartheid-like conditions that Palestinians live under in Israel. So the Israel Lobby media machine was put into top gear and a number of newspapers including the Daily Mail and the Daily Express ran scaremongering stories about Raed Salah.
It is a pity that the Home Office caved in to this pressure – as it also did in the case of Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi previously, instead of standing up for the key principle of free speech and the rule of law. Preemptively banning the likes of Raed Salah and Qaradawi only serves to highlight just how hypocritical and untrustworthy the government, and in particular, the Home Office is.
Despite the unfortunate news about Raed Salah, I can’t help smiling at some of the antics of Israel Lobby groups. One of their main outlets is the venomous website, Harry’s Place, which has carried acres of commentary hysterically attacking those who argued that Raed Salah should be allowed to visit the UK. And the motto of Harry’s Place? It is the George Orwell line “Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” You really have to laugh.
So what is to be done to counter the malign influence of the Israel Lobby? A few years ago, some Muslim activists argued that racist Zionist and extremist right-wing groups should be infiltrated by brave young Muslim graduates posing as supporters of Israel. I wasn’t convinced about that strategy and believe the Arab Spring has shown that a better way forward is building a broader alliance with other like-minded people. There are many decent Jews who are appalled at the behaviour of the Israeli government and especially the continuing building of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
In the end, I really think that the Israeli colonial project looks set to meet the same fate as apartheid South Africa. It’s racist infrastructure and institutionalised oppression of the native population will be dismantled, God Willing.