The Tory British government, ever Bibi’s loyal poodle, has arrested Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement (Northern Branch) the day before he was to address the UK parliament at the invitation of an MK. Doing Bibi’s bidding seems to be a trademark of the current government, which also today inveighed against those participating in the Gaza Flotilla, who are rumored to have at least one boat which departed from a Scottish port.
Apparently, the Sheikh, Israel’s leading Islamist leader, is persona non grata as the leader of a legitimate Israeli political-religious movement (albeit one the government attempts to criminalize every chance it gets). The fact that he’s been convicted by Israel of trumped-up charges of assaulting a police officer is enough to get him deported. But one wonders why they bothered to allow him into the country in the first place. It makes the Brits look like they’re afraid of the ideas of someone they themselves permitted entry. What’s he gonna do? Poison the minds of UK’s Muslim community? Turn them against the Tory government’s milquetoast approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? They’re already against this government’s Middle East policy. Hard to imagine Salah could make things any worse for them.
Perhaps this is a sop thrown to Bibi because Parliament still hasn’t, as far as I know, repealed the provision allowing arrest warrants for visiting Israeli officials and IDF officers. This has been high on Israel’s list since it’s meant that no senior Israeli officials could visit England for some time without fearing arrest.
The British tabloid press have blared headlines claiming that Salah was a banned person, implying that he entered Britain surreptitiously. Considering that he entered via Heathrow and certainly must’ve had a visa to do so, this appears to be a lie.
I should make clear that I am criticizing Britain’s pusillanimousness not because I’m a fan of Salah or agree with his views. But unlike David Cameron and Bibi Netanyahu, his views don’t scare me and criminalizing them will only drive Israel’s Muslims farther toward the extremes (which perhaps is what Bibi wishes). The Bush administration cancelled a visa issued to Tariq Ramadan and refused him entry for years until, under pressure of a lawsuit, Pres. Obama’s Justice Department changed course and allowed Ramadan into the U.S. By the way, the Republic did not collapse as a result. Similarly, Israel imprisoned Norman Finkelstein when he attempted to enter and refused Noam Chomsky entrance as well. Apparently, their ideas were so dangerous that Israel might’ve combusted spontaneously had a single Israeli heard them.