This is cross posted from the blog of the CST
Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, is currently in prison in the UK awaiting an appeal hearing against his deportation from the UK.
His case has attracted a great deal of media and political attention, mainly because he entered the UK despite being subject to an exclusion order, and was then arrested in London; the exact circumstances of which are now the subject of a Home Office investigation. In considering the circumstances of Salah’s appeal, the Court will look at the grounds of the original decision to exclude Salah, reports of which have led to libel complaints against the Daily Telegraph and the Jewish Chronicle.
Salah and his supporters have claimed, variously, that the antisemitic comments he is alleged to have made have been fabricated; that even if he did make those comments, he has never been charged with antisemitism in Israel; or that he was tried but acquitted of those charges. These defences are not all consistent, and in fact his main UK supporter, Middle East Monitor, amended one of its press releases which had initially claimed that Salah had never been charged with antisemitism, to say instead that he had been charged but “was never convicted due to lack of evidence”.
It now appears that Salah does face a charge of inciting antisemitism in Israel, and that this charge relates directly to the ‘blood libel’ speech he is alleged to have given in Jerusalem in 2007. CST has obtained a copy of two outstanding indictments against Salah, both issued by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court and signed by the Jerusalem District Attorney. Both are dated 23rd June 2011, although we believe that the first indictment – the ‘blood libel’ – was first issued in January 2008.
Salah had previously been tried and acquitted in 2010 on charges of assaulting a police officer and taking part in an illegal gathering, both of which related to the same 2007 Jerusalem rally. These charges do not appear in the indictment CST has obtained, which appears to cover different allegations. After his 2010 acquittal, Salah was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying that “all of the four remaining cases against me should be closed.” The indictments described below may explain what he was referring to in that quote.
The full text of both indictments, in Hebrew, can be downloaded here. We have provided translated excerpts, below. It should be noted that the speech in the first indictment is a translation of Hebrew which is itself a translation from Arabic, which may explain why the wording is confusing in some parts.
Indictment One – inciting racism and inciting violence
1. The defendant is the leader of the northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
2. During the month of February 2007, [construction] work was undertaken in the Mughrabi [Mugrabi] Gate at the entrance to the Temple Mount. This sparked protest and riots by the Arab public.
3. On 15 February 2007, the Jerusalem court forbade the defendant from being in vicinity of the Old City of Jerusalem or within a distance of 150 metres from it for a period of 60 days (B”S 2181/7).
A. The Facts:
4. On Friday 16/2/07, around 10:00 hours, the defendant arrived in Jerusalem joined by hundreds of supporters from the north of Israel. Following the Police order, which limited worshippers’ entrance to the Temple Mount, and following the order noted in Section 3 above, the defendant and his supporters congregated in Ben Hadeeya Street in the Wadi Joz neighbourhood of Jerusalem, to listen to a speech by the defendant and for Friday prayer.
5. The defendant used a makeshift stage and a sound system to deliver his speech to around a thousand people and numerous media representatives who were present.
6. During the speech, the defendant stated, inter alia, the following:
“We are now in this area, the blessed, the lucid and blessed with purity, if not for the disturbances and disruptions inflicted on us by the Israeli occupation, which should be removed G-d willing, like others were eliminated in the past”
“After the Rafah camp crime you are told that the Israeli establishment wants to build a temple that will be used as a prayer house to G-d. How insolent and what a liar he is. He who wants to build a prayer house for G-d; it is inconceivable that he should build a house for G-d when our blood is still on his clothes, and our blood is still on his doors, and our blood is in his food, and our blood in his drink, and our blood passes from one terrorist general to another terrorist general”.
“And thus we proceed in our path and are not fearful except of G-d blessed is His name. We are not afraid, only of G-d. That is why I say, those who think they have a bleeding history owners of generals and slaughters, those, if they think that by inciting against us on Channel 1 and Channel 2, those who think the are inciting against us on Channel 10 [all three main Israeli TV channels that broadcast the news] and Galey Tsahal [IDF radio station], we not fearful except of G-d. The most beautiful moments in our destiny will be when we meet G-d as shahids [martyrs] in the premises of the Al-Aqsa mosque.”
“That is why I say this in a clear manner and with no hesitation: you who incite against us, don’t let the ranks on your shoulders tempt you. These ranks and stars on your shoulders are made of the skulls of our shahids. These are ranks of shame and not ranks of glory. They are ranks of disgrace and not ranks of honour. I am surprised by you. Whichever one of you who kills more of us, gets promoted to higher ranks”.
“As we are here preparing for prayer in the compound of the blessed “Al-Aqsa” mosque. Here all the clouds of discrimination will clear over the skies of holy Jerusalem. On that very day all the streets of holy Jerusalem will be purified of the blood of the innocents whose blood was allowed [to be spilled] and whose souls were removed by the soldiers of the Israeli occupation, who are occupying the holy ”Al-Aqsa” mosque. And yes, then the almond trees of Jerusalem will blossom once again, and the leaves of the olive trees will be green again, and the honour will be returned to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the honour will be returned to all the mosques and churches. Not only this, for we are not malicious and will not be malicious, and we will also protect the honour of the Jews’ synagogues. We are not a nation that is based on values of envy. We are not a nation that is based on values of vengeance. We have never allowed ourselves, and listen well, we have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread for the breaking of the fast during the blessed month of Ramadan with the blood of the children. And if someone wants a wider explanation, you should ask what used to happen to some of the children of Europe, whose blood would be mixed in the dough of the holy bread. G-d all mighty, is this religion? Is this what G-d wants? G-d will confront you for what you are doing…”
“We are not alone in this struggle. It is possible that they will come to me and tell me that you are inciting. They want to destroy for us “Aqsa” and they come and tell me that I incite. So, my brothers, I tell you yes, and I tell you that we are not alone in this struggle. And I would like to say to every sane person. I want to say that to every sane person, that the battle instigated by the Israeli occupation forces against holy Jerusalem and against the blessed “Al-Aqsa” mosque has not been resolved until now. Indeed some of the visions of this battle started officially in the year 1948 CE. Since that year the Israeli establishment continues its war against holy Jerusalem and the blessed “Al-Aqsa” mosque. In the years gone by a bloody scene has taken place there, and this was in the year 1967 CE. There was a campaign there that the Israeli occupation establishment, which is occupying the holy Jerusalem and the blessed “Al-Aqsa” mosque, continues. It continues to perpetuate the battle. The battle still continues…but we emphasise that we are not alone in this battle, with the help of G-d. We ask all Muslims and Arabs in the Islamic and Arab present, if they were to be a judge or a scientist or a political party or a public institute or an organised branch or a nation. We covet of them now, for now is their duty to aid the Palestinian nation. Now is their duty to implement an Islamic-Arab Intifada from ocean to ocean, in support of the holy Jerusalem and the blessed “Al-Aqsa” mosque.”
7. The speech was interrupted from time to time by the crowd with chanting: “G-d is great” and “With spirit and blood we redeem you Aqsa”.
8. As the speech and prayer concluded, the crowd started rioting and throwing stones towards the police forces that were in the vicinity. During the rioting, three Border Police officers were injured.
9. Through the defendant’s actions, which are described above, he advertised a call for acts of violence and encouragement for violent acts, which, according to the content and the circumstances in which it [the speech] was given, there is a realistic possibility of it leading to an actual act of violence, and he advertised them with the intention of inciting racism.
B. The legislative provisions according to which the defendant is accused:
1. Inciting to violence – Criminal offence Section (A)2D144 of the penal code 1977 (hereinafter: the law).
2. Inciting racism – Criminal offence Section (A)B144 of the law.
Indictment Two – Obstructing a Police Officer in the line of duty
A. The Facts:
1. On 17/4/11, around 15:30 hours, the defendant and his wife arrived from Jordan and requested to enter Israel via the Allenby Border Terminal (hereafter:the terminal).
2. Entry procedures to Israel via the terminal include, inter alia, luggage and body searches of the travellers. Because of the defendant’s public status, the defendant and his wife were directed to a separate, inner wing of the terminal for the search.
3. The defendant fully cooperated in the process of searching his suitcases and the body search performed on him. At a certain point, a female police officer asked the defendant’s wife to accompany her behind a curtain in order to conduct a body search on her.
4. At this moment, the defendant began to shout that he refuses to allow a search of his wife on grounds that it insults his and his wife’s honour. The defendant stood, with his wife standing behind him, and prevented the female officer from approaching his wife. The commander of the terminal, who was present, explained to the defendant that this is a legal procedure and informed the defendant that he is violating the order and obstructing the police, and asked the defendant to calm down and exit the examination room (hereafter:the room).
5. The defendant continued to shout and to oppose the search, and even told his wife to exit the room and refuse the search, even though it was clarified to him that the search would be done in an enclosed space and by a woman. Following his behaviour, two officers were invited to the area, who forcibly removed the defendant from the room, and instructed him to wait outside the room, in the wing’s corridor.
6. The officers clarified to the defendant that he was obstructing their work, and requested of the defendant to wait seated on the bench in the wing’s corridor, adjacent to the entry door to the examination room (hereafter: the door). Following a loud argument, the defendant sat on the bench, while two officers were standing nearby, with their backs to the closed-door.
7. The defendant sat on the bench for about two minutes, and then rose abruptly and tried to forcibly enter the room, while pushing the officers with his hands, and kicking the room’s door in order to open it. The officers caught the defendant, and removed him a distance from the door, and instructed him to sit on the bench.
8. The defendant sat on the bench, but got up after a short while, stood in front of the officers blocking his way and pushed the officers towards the door with his body. The officers forcibly pushed the defendant, and sat him down on the bench.
9. The defendant’s kick on the room’s door also hit one of the officer’s hip, causing a slight injury.
10. In the actions stated above, the defendant committed an act meant to intentionally obstruct the officer while performing his legal duty and thereby frustrate his work.
B. The legislative provisions according to which the defendant is accused:
Obstructing a police officer in the line of duty – Offence according to Section 275 of the law
There are a few points that it is important to stress. The first is that Salah denies all of the allegations, and also denies that he is antisemitic.
The second is that while Salah does appear to have been charged in Israel with inciting antisemitism (contrary to his initial claim), he has not yet been tried on those charges (contrary to his subsequent claim), and therefore has not been convicted of that offence. CST is in no position to assess the truthfulness or otherwise of any of the charges listed here, which we believe are due to be heard in an Israeli court next year. It is not clear from the indictment whether or not recordings exist of Salah’s speech, although it does list, as prosecution witnesses, representatives of Israeli media organisations and police officers who , it says, “receiv[ed] recordings from” Israeli TV and radio stations (this is in section C of the first indictment, on pages 3/4, entries 7,8, 9, 11, 12 & 13).
This second point touches on a third, wider point, which is more relevant to the UK environment in which CST operates. While it was to be expected that Salah’s supporters would produce a one-sided (and at times hysterical) response to the allegations against him, it was disappointing that the Guardian in particular, and some Members of Parliament, were not more cautious in accepting, and at times regurgitating, their propaganda. Antisemitism is a serious allegation. That means that it should not be made lightly; but it also means that, once made, it should be taken seriously by the mainstream media and by those who wish to campaign for Palestinian rights.