But in fact the judgment (now released online, and viewable above) clears Salah of the central government accusation against him: that he wrote an anti-Semitic poem containing the line: “You Jews are criminal bombers of mosques”.
This “poem” was fabricated in the context of a long-standing Israeli campaign of attacks, detentions and disinformation against Salah. This particular forgery looks to have been originally carried out by an editorial writer at the Jerusalem Post. But this highly problematic, hostile 2009 article was cited by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as the primary factual basis for both the exclusion and deportation orders.
The judges said they “must accept” expert evidence that a real poem by Salah was in fact “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 genuine poem (“A message to the pertetrators of injustice”) did not include the word “Jews” at all.
Despite this, the judges say: “it is not necessary… for words and actions to be racist as such” to satisfy the “unacceptable behavior” criteria under which Salah was banned from the UK.
A disingenuous judgment
The judgment is a very disingenuous document. Even some Zionists have had to admit as much. A reporter from the Jewish Chronicle (a very pro-Israel paper) who has covered the case said:
In a new blog post the Community Security Trust (CST) welcomes the judgment. They admit they “provided evidence” to the Home Office in their campaign against Salah. But as I’ve blogged about before, the truth is the CST was forced to admit this only after the Guardian and myself exposed the private emails between the government and the CST.
The CST is being incredibly disingenuous. The organization has still not released the secret reports on Salah it sent to the government. I have challenged them multiple times to release the documents, but they’re still keeping them a secret. I can’t say I’m surprised.
So have released one of their documents myself, and reported the content of others. But there are still several left unreleased to the public.
The fabricated poem
Linking to my own July report from court on its blog, the CST claims that “Salah denied having written the poem” and that only “after CST provided evidence to the contrary, did Salah admit to having written the poem”. At best, this is incredibly dim of the CST, and at worst it is an outright lie. Unsurprisingly, anonymous bloggers at the neo-con, pro-war website “Harry’s Place” have been repeating this falsehood.
Clearly, the “poem” Salah denied having written was the fabricated one quoted by the government. This is a screenshot of the fabricated passage as quoted in the deportation order (you can read both the full document and a translation of the real poem here):
As you can see, this is very different from the real poem. If you look at the full document (although the reproduction is bad) you can just about make out that footnote 1 is the web address of the Jerusalem Post editorial. Furthermore, a print-out of the article was submitted as evidence in the government’s response to Salah’s appeal.
This malicious faked “poem” is what I reported Salah as denying (through his lawyer) haven written. That much is clear from any honest reading of my article, and the full text of Mr Justice Stadlen’s decision to release Salah on bail (which I have now obtained) confirms this.
I wrote the “British press had circulated accusations of an anti-Semitic ‘poem’ they attributed to Salah”. And guess what had been circulating at the time? Big surprise: the fake Jerusalem Post version (Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan also linked to an Israeli army propaganda website containing a similar, but also faked, quote).
The UKBA admitted in court they had not been “aware” of the original text of the real poem. But that did not stop them from using the Jerusalem Post fabrication unchecked. They have since been unapologetic about this, arguing that was how it was “interpreted” in the Israeli media is “relevant”.
The CST does not appear to have cited the Jerusalem Post editorial in any of the documents I have obtained so far. But, in a CST report emailed to the the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and foreign office on 17 June they do quote something similar, taken from a Fox News opinion piece (which seems to have its origin in the aforementioned Israeli army propaganda website). The CST even dishonestly inserts another instance of the word “Jews” in square brackets. I haven’t yet released the full document, but meanwhile, here is a short extract from it (footnote 8 is a just a link to the Fox News piece):
A fundamental flaw in the First Tier Tribunal’s judgment is that the judges have ignored the reality of the Israeli campaign against Salah, which including the spreading of disinformation in the media. The judges state that, according to the government’s submission:
The poem was referred to in an issue of the Jerusalem Post dated 6th July 2011 where it was described as being addressed to “You Jews”.
This is misleading. The Jerusalem Post editorial does not merely “describe” it as being addressed to Jews. It deliberately misquoted Salah by inserting the words “You Jews” without even using square brackets. That is more than a misleading description, that is outright disinformation.
(Note: the judges incorrectly state the article was dated 6 July because of a bug in the Jerusalem Post website. If you use the Print feature to read the article, you can see the site changes the article’s date to the current date. The UKBA printed this out for the judges on 6 July. The article was actually published in 2009.)
The judgment fails to ask why there is such a campaign of harassment and disinformation in Israel and here against Sheikh Raed Salah, despite Salah’s legal team making great efforts to explain it. This failure is evidenced by their statements that DVD evidence documenting this Israeli campaign “has no relevance” to the case.
Salah’s team had shown video of a recent border incident allegedly set up by Israel to provoke Salah into violence by harassing his wife and threatening to strip search her (in the end, they did not follow through on this threat after Salah assertively objected). Salah did not rise to the bait, even keeping his hands behind his back to make it clear on camera he posed no physical threat. The judges considered all this irrelevant.
Another DVD showed Israeli troops and plainclothes security forces attacking Salah and a group of friends who had been peacefully eating dinner on terrace of a Jerusalem home in 2008. The judges had to admit this could “only be interpreted as showing the Appellant [Salah] being the victim of serious police harassment” — but astonishingly then claim this too is not relevant to the appeal.
But it is relevant. The facts matter. The truth is relevant.
The long Israeli campaign against Raed Salah
It matters because of the long-standing Israeli campaign against Salah. Israel has gone to extraordinary lengths to silence or get rid of Salah. This has even extended to alleged assassination attempts. As I reported in June:
In May 2010, Salah was on the Mavi Marmara when it was stormed in international waters by Israeli commandos who killed nine persons. Salah claimed at the time Israeli forces had tried to deliberately assassinate him. One of the victims, Ibrahim Bilgen, bore a likeness to Salah (“Did Israel try to assassinate Sheikh Raed Salah on Mavi Marmara but kill a Turkish engineer instead?,” Ali Abunimah’s blog, 2 June 2010).
In its September conclusions, a fact-finding mission dispatched by the UN Human Rights Council said Ibrahim Bilgen had been “one of the first passengers to be shot” by the Israelis “in a manner consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution” (“Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law …,” UN Human Rights Council Fifteenth Session, A/HRC/15/21, p 29, 37 [PDF]).
I am reminded by blogger Richard Silverstein of another reported Israeli assassination attempt against Salah. Last year, Zionist fanatic and Kahanist settler Chaim Pearlman released recordings of and Israeli intelligence officer who had tried to persuade him to assassinate Salah. A press release from Salah’s office lists other events in the long Israeli campaign against him.
The context must be understood. Israel is determined to crush all Palestinian resistance, both armed and non-violent. That why it arrests Palestinian leaders of peaceful popular resistance like Bassam Tamimi and like Raed Salah. Peaceful protesters like Ashraf Abu Rahmeh. As revealed in a diplomatic cable recently released by Wikileaks, Israel told US representatives last year: “we don’t do Gandhi very well”.
Why is all that relevant to the case? Simply: it demonstrates why the judges should have asked a question central to the case. Why was an anti-Semitic poem faked and attributed to Salah?
Finally, the CST blog also said that Salah “denied facing any charges in Israel”. The Guardian editorial the CST links to in order to prove Salah denied this atually mentions nothing about charges in Israel, so it’s unclear what denial the CST means. But considering the indictments they’re talking about were lodged in a Jerusalem court only on 23 June one would have expected him to deny this indictment’s existence before it was even issued in the court.
The CST is being dishonest here too. They know very well when the indictments were lodged in the court, because they appeared to have been the first in the UK to obtain copies from the Israelis. They translated them into English and posted selected extracts to their blog on 6 July.
The timing of these indictments – issued exactly the same day Theresa May signed the banning order against Salah – seems highly unlikely to be the coincidence UKBA claims it was. One of them relates to a speech that took place four years ago.
In the end, the basis for the judges’ rejection of Salah’s appeal against deportation is that his “words and actions tend to be inflammatory, divisive, insulting, and likely to foment tension and radicalism”. They write this because Salah “spoke in vivid terms alleging that it was the [Israeli] intention to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque”. This is what the judges deem “unacceptable behavior”. Rather than the facts, the government say they are more concerned with how Salah’s words will be interpreted by people already hostile to Salah: namely those “who aim at Israeli territorial expansion and control at the expense of the Palestinians”.
The judges defensively write “it is not our task to rubber stamp a decision of the Secretary of State” Theresa May, but that nevertheless it was “not our responsibility to find that the Secretary of State has proved each item of evidence upon which she relies”. Further down they say the deportation order’s “interference with the freedom of expression” of Salah is “proportionate to the legitimate aim of preventing disorder or crime as represented in the criteria of the Prevent Strategy”.
Fling enough mud at a wall, and hope some will stick. That seems to be the strategy here. In much of the British press, fabrications and lies are permitted in the service of Israeli campaigns against the Palestinian people.