Raed Salah’s return

Leader of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch arrived back to a hero’s welcome after 10 months under restrictive bail conditions in the UK.

Sheikh Raed Salah 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Sheikh Raed Salah 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
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 Akhbar.”
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 due”).
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.
In 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 Euphrates.”
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 Mount.
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.
Salah, however, 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.
In 2009, 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.