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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Guardian gives an antisemite a forum

I wrote about the party that was thrown in honor of Raed Salah, anti-semite and inciter to terror, in London.

It turns out that he wrote a column for Comment is Free in the Guardian where he pushes his normal lies. In it, he claims that he is against anti-semitism:
After a 10-month legal battle, I have now been cleared on "all grounds" by a senior immigration tribunal judge, who ruled that May's decision to deport me was "entirely unnecessary" and that she had been "misled". The evidence she relied on (which included a poem of mine which had been doctored to make it appear anti-Jewish) was not, he concluded, a fair portrayal of my views. In reality, I reject any and every form of racism, including antisemitism.

I have no doubt that, despite this, Israel's cheerleaders in Britain will continue to smear my character. This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay.

One of the pieces of evidence given to the judge was the entire passage of his blood libel:
“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 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. God Almighty, is this religion? Is this what God wants? God will confront you for what you are doing”.

Salah claimed that "holy bread" was metaphorical. The "expert" they used to debunk that this was anti-semitic was none other than Israel-hater Ilan Pappe! And the ruling showed that they didn't buy his argument, and in fact they destroyed it:

In our judgment this is all wholly unpersuasive. The appellant is clearly aware of the blood libel against Jews. If his intention had been to draw an analogy between events of the Spanish Inquisition and actions of the Israeli state he could have said so in clearer terms that did not require over ten paragraphs of explanation for his true meaning to be made clear. If he had meant to refer to Christians using the blood of others to make bread, which he seems to consider less offensive than referring to Jews doing so, then he could have inserted the word “Christian” into the text of his the sermon as he does in paragraph 175 of his explanation. Allusion to historical examples of children being killed in religious conflict does not require reference to their blood being used to make “holy bread”. The truth of the matter is that the conjunction of the concepts of ‘children’s blood’ and ‘holy bread’ is bound to be seen as a reference to the blood libel unless it is immediately and comprehensively explained to be something else altogether.

Besides, even the explanation does not quite work. Professor Pappe accepts that “superficially” the reference could appear to be to the blood libel but that the “sentence without the adjective Jewish is not a repetition of the blood libel.” He maintains that the next sentence of the sermon is a reference to a chapter in the history of the Inquisition. But neither the appellant nor Professor Pappe identified a source for this “chapter” of the Inquisition where Christians used blood of Muslim (or any other) children for Christian holy bread. There is no evidence that this is a commonly known matter in any of the communities in Israel, so that those hearing the sermon would recognise the reference. The explanation now put forward would not, so far as the evidence goes, moderate the meaning of the words in the sermon as actually delivered.

...We do not find this comment could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews and nothing said by the appellant or Professor Pappe explains why it would be interpreted otherwise from the original Arabic text or in the English text before us. We accept that this sermon was given on a somewhat turbulent day when the appellant had been refused permission to pray at one of the holy sites of his religion, one that he genuinely fears is under threat from the Israeli authorities. That is not sufficient to negate his comment and the hatred that might be fostered by it and lead to intercommunity violence in the UK. We conclude, therefore, that it was a comment that
the respondent was entitled to take into account and take seriously when considering whether the appellant should be deported.
The judge pretty much said that Salah's speech was in fact anti-semitic, although he found other reasons to downplay its importance. So despite Salah's protestations to the contrary, it is clear he was knowingly pushing the classic blood libel.

If the Guardian read the judgment, they know this.

But the judge ruled that since this was the only evidence of anti-semitism, he would let it slide:
There is no reliable evidence of the appellant using words carrying a reference to the blood libel save in the single passage in a sermon delivered five years ago. Similarly, the reliable evidence relating to calls to martyrdom is confined to the same occasion. The absence of other evidence is striking, for at least two reasons. The appellant is a prominent public figure and a prolific speaker. The first indictment shows that his speeches are of interest to the authorities in Israel. In these circumstances we think it can fairly be said that the evidence before us is not a sample, or ‘the tip of the iceberg’: it is simply all the evidence that there is.
I disagree. For example, Salah also wrote an article about 9/11 that pushed a number of classic anti-semitic tropes (although he was careful not to use the word "Jew" but "unique mover.") In that article, he claims that 4000 Jews were warned to stay away from work at the World Trade Center, that Benjamin Franklin wrote a document warning about Jewish control of the world, that Jews were behind the assassination of JFK (not because he was a Zionist but because he was a Catholic), and that Jews were behind the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The larger point is that while the British legal system might have found that the evidence that Salah is anti-semitic not strong enough to have him deported, the Guardian clearly read the judgment and even so decided that Salah is an appropriate person to write a column for them - which is quite a different thing.