Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch and an
Israeli Arab convicted Hamas collaborator, arrived back to a hero’s welcome
Monday after 10 months under restrictive bail conditions in the UK, during which
he fought and defeated a deportation order.
Some 300 supporters hailed
him at Ben-Gurion Airport with earsplitting chants of “Allahu
Thanking his well-wishers, Salah crowed: “All of the Zionists’
attempts have failed. I traveled to Britain and carried on my shoulders the Aksa
plight and the Palestinian people’s dream of a country of their own.... I
returned here like a Palestinian soldier.”
Salah was welcomed back by MKs
Taleb a-Sanaa (Ta’al) and Jamal Zahalka (Balad). Also on hand was Muhammad
Zeidan, head of the Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership, who
opined that Salah’s “defeat of the Zionists sets an important precedent that
will serve others, including Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi” (the spiritual leader of the
Muslim Brotherhood, who had praised Hitler for “giving the Jews their
Salah’s hometown of Umm el-Fahm, whose mayor he once was, has for
days been preparing to throw a lavish bash in his honor, elevating him to the
ranks of an icon and role model.
Much of this was facilitated by the fact
that for years Israel tolerated Salah’s incendiary speech and prodigious
provocations, almost on the premise that if these were pooh-poohed, they’d just
go away. Instead, however, Salah only gained stature and rose to popularity the
likes of which should alarm us, considering his nonstop sedition.
2003, he was convicted and briefly jailed on charges of raising millions for
Hamas. That year he published the following poem in the Islamic Movement’s
periodical: “You Jews are criminal bombers of mosques/ Slaughterers of pregnant
women and babies/ Robbers and germs in all times/ The Creator sentenced you to
be loser monkeys/ Victory belongs to Muslims, from the Nile to the
In 2007, Salah orchestrated riots against archeological
rescue-digs and a new pedestrian bridge near the Temple Mount. He accused Jews
of “eating bread dipped in children’s blood.” He praised and eulogized terrorist
murderers. He threatened anyone who claims any Jewish connection to the
Western Wall, “even to just one stone.”
Since then Salah has been
regularly holding “Save al- Aksa” rallies dedicated to the rabble-rousing
calumny that Israel is out to demolish the Muslim compound atop the Temple
In 2010, he was one of the leading participants in the Gaza
flotilla, sailing on the Mavi Marmara.
Israel’s judiciary has in recent
years not dared punish Salah’s undisguised subversion and incitement to
rebellion. This had consequences in the UK.
Last June, Home
Secretary Theresa May banned Salah’s entry to Britain due to his recurrent
hate-speech delivered via sermons, lectures and in his so-called poetic
output. His presence would be “not conducive to the public good,” it was
decreed. Salah was subsequently detained in London, after it emerged that he had
entered the UK in defiance of the exclusion order.
emerged triumphant on appeal. Facilitating his victory was the fact that Israel
appeared to tolerate him more than the British Home Office did. The Upper
Immigration Tribunal, which heard Salah’s appeal, concluded that the case
against him was “very weak,” is no small part because he obviously is not
considered a menace in Israel, whose citizen he is and where he is free to
essentially do as he pleases.
The Tribunal had a point.
for example, the University of Haifa allowed Salah to deliver an address on
campus. He urged the Arab students who cheered him to die as shahids (martyrs)
in the war against Israel. He charged that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
“aims to implement plots hatched during his previous term and complete the
takeover” of the Temple Mount.
What we do in Israel clearly has
repercussions abroad. If we brush hate-mongering under the carpet, we can’t
expect foreigners to behave more bravely than we do. The bottom line is that
while Britain’s home secretary thought Salah was dangerous, Israel prefers
inaction parading as enlightened tolerance. That ought to serve up lots of food
for thought here.