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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Revealed: UK government plotted with Israel lobby to ban Salah

6 October 2011
As Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah’s appeal against deportation concluded in a Birmingham court this week, new details of the UKgovernment’s deep links to the Israel lobby have emerged.
This follows a separate High Court ruling in London on 30 September, when a judicial review into the government’s June imprisonment of Salah ruled he was entitled to damages for “wrongful detention.”
While a panel of two immigration judges is expected to deliver a verdict within 10 days of the hearing, internal government emails obtained by The Electronic Intifada show Home Secretary Theresa May moved quickly to ban Salah not long after the pro-Israel group Community Security Trust (CST) sent a secret report on him. The report contained quotes ascribed to Salah with the word “Jews” inserted into his rhetorical attacks on Israeli occupation forces, in an attempt to paint him as an anti-Semite.
In court on Monday, government barrister Neil Sheldon said, “There is no question of this being a doctored quote, or a cooked-up quote,” although he conceded that the words “Jews” did not appear in the original poem written by Salah. A Jerusalem Post report cited by the government against Salah “may well have got it wrong,” Sheldon stated (“Civil Liberties,” 20 June 2009).
But Sheldon seemed to argue that this fact did not matter because that is how the poem was reported in a “respectable media outlet in Israel.”
This and other similar misquotes were then used by May as a principle source for her banning order against Salah. Salah entered the UK legally on 23 June. Neither he nor his organizers were aware of the ban, because the government had not managed to serve it on him in time.
Conservative Party funder on board of group that pushed for Salah to be banned
The Electronic Intifada can reveal that Poju Zabludowicz, a billionaire real estate magnate who bankrolls the ruling Conservative Party (to which May belongs), is named as a CST board member in a report by an expert witnesses called by Salah’s lawyers. The emails obtained by The Electronic Intifada appear to show that CST played a key role in the banning of Salah.
As well as personally funding UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign for the Conservative Party leadership, Zabludowicz’s family used to own Israeli arms company Soltam (now part of Elbit). And he has owned a minority holding in British Israel, a company with several malls — including one in the illegal West Bank settlement Maaleh Adumim.
David Miller, a sociology professor from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, was called by Salah’s lawyers to testify as an expert witness in the case. His report on the CST was entered into evidence. It includes a list names of the CST advisory board from June 2010. In court, he said the list was available in the public domain, and later showed The Electronic Intifada where it could be viewed publicly.
A spokesperson for the CST refused to comment when asked by The Electronic Intifada if Zabludowicz or several other members of the list were still board members. Sheldon said Miller’s conclusions that the CST is not a reliable source on the matter belied the list, which includes several members of parliament, lords and former and current senior police officers.
Pro-Israel group CST pushed privately for Salah to be banned
In a 17 June email to the deputy director of the Special Cases Directorate (SCD) of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Michael Whine, a CST director, said he was writing following the request of an official from another government department. Whine attached a CST report on Salah “who plans a speaking tour of the UK from the end of next week.”
The report claimed that Salah’s “record of provocative acts and statements carry a risk that his presence in the UK could well have a radicalizing impact on his audiences.”
Only 17 minutes after this report was sent, Faye Johnson, Theresa May’s private secretary, emailed SCD Director Andrew Jackson about “a parliamentary event on 29 June” at which Salah was due to speak. Johnson then asked if there was “anything that we can do to prevent him from attending (e.g. could we exclude him on the grounds of unacceptable behavior?).” It is not clear where May had first heard about Salah.
A few hours later, Jonathan Rosenorn-Lanng at the SCD sent an email askingUKBA colleagues for more information on Salah that could be used to exclude him. But it seems this request was a token, as Rosenorn-Lanng insisted he would be “going with what I’ve got in any event” — seemingly a reference to the CST report on Salah.
Pro-Israel lobby group asked for court sources
The previous Monday, Rosenorn-Lanng was the only witness called by the government lawyers in their response to the appeal. Under cross-examination, he had said that, although he was “not expected to be an expert on the actual issues I’m dealing with,” the recommendations he presented to the Home Secretary on exclusions from the UK were checked by people who were experts.
In court, Sheldon also named pro-Israel lobby group the Board of Deputies of British Jews as a further source for the document put together by Rosenorn-Lanng. This document led to May personally signing the order for Salah’s exclusion from the UK.
But it’s likely this is a confusion borne of out of Michael Whine’s dual roles at both the CST and the Board of Deputies. As well as being director of “Government and International Affairs” at the CST, Whine also holds a director’s position at the Board of Deputies and has written a journal article for the CST on European governmental responsibility toward “combating anti-Semitism” (“Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Diplomatic Progress in Combating Antisemitism,” 2010 [PDF]).
Although Whine sent the report on Salah from a CST email address on 17 June, and with the CST mentioned in his signature, the deputy director of theSCD referred to him as “Mike Whine at the Board of Deputies.”
Although CST predecessor, the Community Security Organization, used to be part of the Board of Deputies, the CST established itself as a charity independent of the Board in 1994 following certain changes in charity law. The CST was granted a special dispensation by the Charity Commission allowing it to withhold public release of the names of its trustees.
Goverment’s only source was anti-Palestinian group
Salah’s barrister Raza Husain had asked why Salah’s hosts in the country had not been consulted by the government or their advice sought on Salah. He also asked why they had not consulted a group like Jews For Justice For Palestinians, who issued a statement in favor of Salah’s right to speak in the country.
Pressed by Husain on this point over the whole three days of hearings, the government was unable to point to a single outside group whose advice it had drawn on, apart from the CST and the Board of Deputies (taken in the context of the emails, it seems both were via Whine).
Husain told the court he was not aware of any primary document in the report to Theresa May compiled by Rosenorn-Lanng that was not from theCST (apart from a “communities impact assessment” from the another government department). Sheldon’s reply was that, if that was the state of the evidence, “that’s the evidence.”
He later said it was “simply not the case” that everything from the CST was “taken at face value,” and he gave the example that a CST report referred to Salah’s presence on the Mavi Marmara as part of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Rosenorn-Lanng had said the government discounted an accusation used in a CST submission that Salah might have been involved in indoctrination that led to an attack on Israeli naval commandos as a “rumor.”
But it also emerges from the emails that even May recognized that the case was “very finely balanced.” May’s private secretary Faye Johnson said as much in an email dated 23 June, 4:26pm, to SCD Deputy Director Rod McLean, thanking him for his submission. This submission is seemingly the documents assembled by Rosenorn-Lanng, who had in court described the CST as a “principal source.” But once Salah had been arrested on 28 June, some civil servants advised May against deportation because he had a ticket to leave the country on 5 July anyway, and arrest would only attract more attention to the case.
Husain’s argument was: if the case was so finely balanced even when only a report from a group biased against Salah had been received, how did the scales tip now that Salah’s side of the story had been heard in court?
Salah’s exclusion order an an affront to free speech
Sheldon’s argument was that the exclusion decision taken by May was something she is democratically accountable for, and that the Tribunal should be “very slow” to substitute its own view for hers, because it had an incomplete jurisdiction. He argued that the accusations against Salah in the document assembled by Rosenorn-Lanng were not counts of an indictment that had to be proved, and that the question for the Tribunal was, was there sufficient evidence for May to base her decision on. He characterized the evidence as disputed.
Husain took exception to that, saying the judges had to deal with the material on its own terms. He argued that the true aim of the exclusion order was to block free speech, pointing to Faye Johnson’s emailed reference to Salah’s scheduled meeting in the Houses of Parliament.
Sheldon argued that Salah’s presence in the country would have the effect of radicalizing “elements of the Muslim community.” Sheldon said Salah had been convicted in Israel of funding charities linked to Hamas and that it was a misrepresentation of a revised indictment to say this related only to charitable work.
Asked by The Electronic Intifada for a response to the accusations heard in court, Mark Gardner of the CST wrote, “It is a disgraceful slur to claim thatCST’s attitudes to antisemitism are based upon the assumed religion or ethnicity of those concerned. We completely reject any insinuation that CSTused ‘doctored’ quotes. You should note that there was a Guardian article which carried similar accusations to those you are making. They changed it following our legal intervention.”
This last comment seems to be a reference to a Guardian article by David Hearst, who also had access to some of the government emails, to which an amendment notice is appended (“May warned of weak case against Sheikh Raed Salah,” 26 September 2011).
Should Salah win his appeal, the government is likely to challenge the ruling. Since he is a well-known leader of peaceful popular resistance against the Israeli occupation, UK government collusion with Israeli authorities has already caused a great deal of damage to Britain’s reputation in the Arab world. A deportation would only increase such damage.
When the law has just been changed to allow Israel’s former foreign minister and war crimes suspect Tzipi Livni to freely visit Britain even while Salah remains on restrictive bail, one can accuse the UK of rank hypocrisy.
Asa Winstanley is a freelance journalist based in London who has lived in and reported from occupied Palestine. He edited the book “Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation,” out in October. His website is

Ten reasons Palestine is right to bring its case to the UN

  • Published 19:23 13.09.11
  • Latest update 19:23 13.09.11

There's a certain implied danger in the idea of playing darts in the dark. Particularly when there are numerous players in a crowded room, and not one has a well-defined target.

By Bradley Burston

There's a certain implied danger in the idea of playing darts in the dark. Particularly when there are numerous players in a crowded room, and not one has a well-defined target.
For Mahmoud Abbas' Palestine, for Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel, and no less, for the Obama administration, the effort to bring Palestinian statehood to the United Nations for endorsement has raised profound fears, prompting internal debates fully as bitter as they have been largely fruitless, with no dependably favorable outcome in sight – for anyone.
Palestinians hold flags and posters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinians hold flags and posters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a protest against Washington's veto of a UN resolution in the West Bank city of Ramallah February 20, 2011
Photo by: Reute

Committed supporters of the Palestinian cause have warned that the UN move could spur a devastating backlash of retaliation, whether by an irate, isolated Israeli government or by an election-minded, Republican dominated U.S. Congress.
Palestinian moderates fear that the statehood move, if mishandled or misapprehended, could set into motion a chain of violent events ultimately spelling the demise of the Palestinian Authority, and dealing a telling blow to any timetable for an independent Palestine.
Abbas has pressed ahead nonetheless, in what may be the last great wager of his career. In the past, as in his 2004 go-it-alone public statements condemning armed Palestinian attacks on Israelis, Abbas has shown himself both a man unafraid to gamble, and, against all odds, one who knows how to turn a crapshoot to advantage. Here are ten reasons that Abu Mazen's
Hail Mary route at the UN may succeed after all:
1. It restores the issue of Palestine from the back-burner to the world's biggest stage, without resort to violence.
The UN move has already compelled all relevant parties to the conflict to re-examine long-accustomed and long-stymied tactics and mindsets. From Netanyahu to Khaled Meshal, from the Quartet (the U.S., Russia, the UN and the European Union) to the Palestinian rank and file, from the settlements to Peace Now and J Street,
alternatives to paralysis and permanent conflict are newly under study.
2. It conveys the concept of Palestine as a nation, living alongside Israel as a member of the community of nations, acknowledging the primacy of the UN as a forum for state-to-state airing of disputes.
This stands in stark contrast to the loose-cannon guerrilla band image cultivated by Yasser Arafat in his 1974 address to the General Assembly ("Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat …"), which gave no quarter to the existence of an independent Israel.
3. The timing underscores and leverages Israel's perfect storm of diplomatic isolation.
Analysts note that this is the first time since the 1948 founding of Israel, that the state has none of the three regional powers, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran, as an ally. Further, the severity of the diplomatic crisis is such that nearly any Israeli effort at retaliation against the Palestinians, is likely to deepen Israel's isolation.
Meanwhile, the UN move turns the Netanyahu government's digging in of heels to Palestinian advantage, casting the Palestinian Authority as the side taking diplomatic initiative.
In ruling out a Yes vote from the get-go, Israel conceded immediate defeat in the world body, in the process forgoing a range of tactical advantages it could have gained by signaling qualified support for a resolution and then negotiating to help shape its wording to a text Israel could have profited by backing.
Finally, if peace talks do eventually resume, the PA's position could be strengthened by a state-to-state position vis-a-vis Israel.
4. The UN drive may confer international imprimatur to and raise the profile of Palestinian state-building efforts.
As Mideast scholar Hussein Ibish has noted, "Palestinians had hoped that a convergence of bottom-up state-building and top-down diplomacy, led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, would be the key to independence. Left on its own, the state-building plan has been little more than a development project under occupation. This has given the leadership a sense of urgency that has impelled its turn towards possible statehood initiatives at the UN."
5. If successful, it can lend Abbas and the PA much-needed strength in its withering rivalry with Hamas.
Hamas, betting on Abu Mazen to lose, has disassociated itself from the UN push. If the Palestinian public perceives the UN vote as a success, criticism over repression in Hamas rule in Gaza would be likely to mount.
6. It may prompt and encourage non-violent Palestinian protest in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The prospect of non-violent protest is one that Israeli officials have acknowledged that they are ill-prepared to confront. As a recently released wikileaks cable revealed, "Less violent demonstrations are likely to stymie the IDF. As MOD [Ministry of Defense] Pol-Mil [Political-Military] chief Amos Gilad told USG [U.S. Government] interlocutors recently, "we don't do Gandhi very well."
This, coupled with rising Israeli tensions with Egypt, Turkey, and the U.S., could at some point force Netanyahu to consider dropping Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu in favor of Kadima itself under electoral pressure from a newly rising Labor - in order to resume peace talks.
7. The PA could also regain a measure of popular support in Gaza, if as a consequence of the UN move, Israel's military latitude for enforcing the siege and pursuing attacks in the Strip were limited.
Even if the Palestinians refrain from executing the threat, the shadows of the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and other world bodies will at once loom large over Israeli military decisions.
8. The Palestinians' secret weapon I: Avigdor Lieberman.
Thus far, the foreign minister is the only senior official scheduled to represent Israel in New York during the deliberations next week. A year ago, in his last appearance before the United Nations, Lieberman effectively contradicted the Israeli line that Israel was ready for peace and that the process had been impeded solely by the Palestinians. Neither side was ready for peace, he told the General Assembly, declaring that an agreement was something that could take "a few decades."
9. The Palestinians' secret weapon II: The Settlers.
If any single element is likely to win sympathy for the Palestinian cause, it will be radical settlers, who have vowed to mark the UN resolution with widespread violence. A recent arson attack against a West Bank mosque has sharpened the concerns of both Israeli and PA security authorities.
Any such action may, in turn, restrict the Israeli government's freedom of action in retaliating against a UN move.
10. The Palestinians' secret weapon III: Benjamin Netanyahu.
As the UN deliberations near, the prime minister's statements have grown more defiant. His protestations that Israel's worsening relations with Egypt and Turkey have nothing to do with the Palestinian issue, have ensured that tensions with all three have become increasingly interrelated, both at home and abroad.
"There are those who think that everything would have been different, if we had only given in to the Palestinians," Netanyahu told the cabinet this week.
"Enough with the self-flagellation," he continued. Inverting the liturgy of confession on the imminent Jewish High Holidays, he declared "We have not become guilty, neither have we transgressed."

Radical Jewish terrorists torch Mosque in Tuba – in pictures

“Not only the trees, rather whoever breaks vessels and rents garments, destroys a building and obstructs a wellspring, or wastes food in a destructive way transgresses the mitzvah of “Bal Tashchit” (“don’t destroy”)…”
Rambam, Mishna Torah, Hilchot Melachim 6:10 [ Real Judaism ]

Related to the article:  Mosque set alight in Galilee Village