| ||Jonathan Cook, author of ‘Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East’ writes on last week’s arrest –awaiting- deportation of Sheikh Raed Salah at the instigation of the Home Secretary, Theresa May, criticizing the British Government’s knee-jerk reaction to pressure exerted by the pro-Israel lobby. |
Cook, who is a Nazareth based correspondent for The National newspaper, writes:
“The British media and government, meanwhile, have stumbled cluelessly into this domestic Israeli feud, and revealed their own deep prejudices. The humiliation of Sheikh Salah at the hands of the British legal system - supposedly in the interests of promoting "decency and respect" - will serve only to remind Muslims of the hypocrisy so often evident in Western policy.
“The media opposition to the sheikh's presence in the UK stems from a campaign of character assassination led by pro-Israel groups. They have accused Sheikh Salah of a "blood libel" against Jews, based on information from dubious sources. When these claims were aired in the Israeli courts several years ago, the sheikh was investigated and charged. However, the prosecution was dropped a short time later for lack of credible evidence.
“The other allegation - that he funded Hamas terror operations - relies on claims originally made by the Israeli government in 2003 during one of his many arrests. Although the state had reportedly accumulated 200,000 recordings of Islamic Movement phone calls, they never located in any conversation the smoking gun they expected to find.
“…the pro-Israel lobby finds it all too easy to exploit Islamophobic tropes that have come to dominate the public discourse in many western countries, including Britain. Fears of a clash of civilisations and of Muslim immigration mean every Islamic scholar and authority is automatically assumed to be another "mad mullah".
“It is worth highlighting a point British commentators overlooked in their coverage of Sheikh Salah. He was coming to the parliament, the cradle of British democracy, not to talk about jihad or infidels but about "building peace and justice in Jerusalem".
“His message is one western publics desperately need to hear but one that Israel and its supporters keenly want silenced. Thanks to the British media and government, for a while longer Britons will be shielded from a real discussion.”
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