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Netanyahu Paves the Way for a New Era of Tyranny

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | November 24, 2015

With dismaying predictability, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost no time in exploiting the massacre in Paris. As he has done many times before, he claimed Europe’s trauma was just a taste of the suffering Israelis have long known.

Discounting decades of a brutal Israeli occupation as the cause of the recent wave of Palestinian attacks, he said: “It is the terrorists who are to blame for terrorism, not the territories, not the settlements and not any other thing.”

Rather than criticising the occupation, he added, the world should learn from Israel’s “aggressive policy” how to defeat its enemies. Last week, he unveiled the latest measure, outlawing the northern wing of the Islamic Movement, a popular party among Israel’s Palestinian citizens, one in five of the population.

Netanyahu and his ministers justified the decision by conflating the Islamic Movement with Hamas and ISIL. But while its leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, rejects the idea of a Jewish state, the movement operates entirely within Israeli law. Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency opposed Netanyahu’s move, admitting that it had failed to find any evidence linking the movement to violence.

Salah’s organisation refuses to participate in the Israeli parliament, and instead directs much of its efforts at religious instruction and good works, including health clinics, nurseries and sports clubs, to the poorest communities in Israel.

That has made it hugely popular. A recent survey found 57 per cent of Israel’s 1.6 million Palestinian citizens believe the movement represents them. A third of Israel’s Palestinian Christians support it too. And it has 10,000 paid-up members, who now risk imprisonment.

So why do it? There are several benefits for Netanyahu and the Israeli right in equating all Islamic activism with terrorism.

Not least, international pressure to negotiate an end to the occupation is likely to lift. He can now recast Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians from a national conflict into a religious – and existential – one. If France is getting tough against ISIL, why should Netanyahu be expected to sit down with his own extremists?

It also helps him domestically. He needs an implacable foe to justify to Israelis why they need an authoritarian government like his.

The US nuclear deal with Iran removed his chief bogeyman. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority is helping maintain order in the West Bank. And Hamas is licking its wounds in Gaza. Now he has an internal enemy, the Islamic Movement, that the argument goes must be fought ruthlessly from within.

Salah’s group fits the bill well. It has been an obstacle to two key planks of the Israeli right’s agenda.

First, it has frustrated the government’s efforts to drive tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral villages into hugely deprived townships. The Islamic Movement has helped to organise and strengthen these communities.

And second, Salah has taken on the fight at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, as Jewish settler groups have used their government connections to gain ever greater purchase on the holy esplanade.

Salah’s cry of “Al Aqsa is in danger” has rallied huge numbers of supporters – Palestinians with the advantage of Israeli citizenship – to get involved at the mosque, at a time when all other Palestinian players, including the PA, have been excluded from Jerusalem.

Netanyahu characterises that opposition to his Jerusalem policies as a terror-like “incitement”, saying it has triggered the current Palestinian unrest.

Outlawing the Islamic Movement looks set to be the first step down a path to greater political repression.

Last year the Netanyahu government passed a law raising the electoral threshold too high for any of Israel’s Palestinian political parties to pass it and so win seats in the parliament.

Against the odds, the disparate factions created a Joint List, which is now the third largest party in the chamber. In response, Netanyahu used the election campaign to fearmonger, warning that Palestinian citizens were coming out to vote “in droves”.

The crackdown on the Islamic Movement paves the way to justifying a ban on members of the Joint List. The Balad faction, in particular, has skated close to illegality by arguing that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic.

Its demand that Israel choose democracy – becoming a “state of all its citizens” – has outraged the right and led to repeated efforts to ban it. That now seems likelier than ever.

If Balad is outlawed too, the Joint List will collapse and the Palestinian parties will be forced out of the Israeli political arena.

The Shin Bet opposed outlawing Salah’s movement because it feared the move would radicalise the Palestinian minority. Denied either a parliamentary or extra-parliamentary platform, some would drift towards violence.

That is already a danger. Last week six Palestinian citizens were charged with trying to join ISIL in Syria, so far a tiny but discernible trend.

Netanyahu’s world view has always depended on a bloody, winner-takes-all clash of civilisations between West and East. He will continue offering vociferous advice on tackling terrorism to European leaders. They would do well to ignore him.


Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).

November 25, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Historic buildings around Al-Aqsa continue to be demolished

MEMO | February 9, 2013

For the third day in a row, Israeli bulldozers are demolishing historic arches and facades of Islamic buildings dating back to the Mamluk and Ottoman eras on the north side of Buraq Square. The site lies just 50 metres from the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa.

Details of the architectural vandalism by the Israeli occupation authorities were provided by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowments and Heritage in a press statement. The Israeli demolition work is a prelude to the establishment of a centre promoting the state’s Judaisation policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. The buildings in question formed part of the Moroccan Quarter of the Old City, which was demolished by the Israelis in 1967 at the start of the occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The foundation said that it will use exclusive maps and documents to show how the Israelis plan to establish a synagogue, a police station, a reception area and show rooms on the site, all of which will be linked to tunnels under Al-Aqsa Mosque. A press conference will be held on Sunday for that purpose which will be attended by the head of the Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah. Among the other speakers will be the Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council and the Imam of Al Aqsa Mosque, Dr Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, and Hatem Abdel Qader, who deals with the Jerusalem file for Fatah, as well as the foundation’s director, Amir Khatib.

According to the documents held by Al-Aqsa Foundation, the development will necessitate the destruction of noted Islamic landmarks. It is worth noting that the State of Israel pledged in its Declaration of Independence that it “will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. The State of Israel regularly breaks both pledges with apparent impunity.

February 10, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Palestinian anger at university construction on Islamic cemetery

MEMO | August 29, 2012

A Palestinian educational institution in Israel has called for a demonstration on Thursday in front of Sheikh Mo’nes Cemetery in Tel-Aviv to protest at what it says is “the violation” of those buried there. Israeli construction company Solel Bonei has started to bulldoze the cemetery to prepare the ground to build student halls of residence for Tel-Aviv University.

Iqraa Educational Institution has criticised the university’s project an act that violates human rights and academic principles. “How can students, Muslims or Jews, trust the university’s academic credentials when it is prepared to violate the sanctity of the dead?” it said in a press statement.

Researcher Ahmed Tobasi from Al-Tadamun Human Rights Organisation discovered the plans about a month ago. This led to a demonstration at the beginning of August organised by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Islamic Endowments and Heritage. The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, joined many Palestinian activists in the protest. “The cemetery is being reduced in size from 20 acres to just 1.5 acres,” he said.

According to Sheikh Raed, Tel-Aviv University itself was originally built on the land of the Islamic cemetery after razing hundreds of graves and throwing out the bones of the dead. “Today, the university shows its determination to violate human rights by deciding to extend its premises at the expense of the remaining cemetery land.” It is absolutely shameful to teach students about human rights while you violate them, the Sheikh added.

The head of student activities at Iqraa, Mohammed Farhan, also criticised the university: “Its construction work in the cemetery violates its academic message and has aroused the anger of many international academic institutions.” The university, he pointed out, criticised the academic boycott by international universities but today had proved that it is far removed from academic and human values and is thus deserving of boycott action.

Farhan said that students will continue to protest against the university’s desecration of the Muslim cemetery. “Tel Aviv University has to respect the rights and feelings of the Arab students study therein.”

A lawyer acting on behalf of Al-Aqsa Foundation, Mohammed Ighbareyah, submitted a petition last week to the Israeli High Court demanding a court order to stop the construction. He described the work as a “dangerous escalation against Islamic sites which constitutes a severe violation of human rights by a university which considers itself remarkable among world academic institutions”. Legal efforts will continue, he said, until the construction of the students’ halls on the land of the Islamic cemetery is stopped.

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Raed Salah wins appeal against deportation

MEMO – 07 April 2012

Palestinian community leader Raed Salah today won his appeal against the British government’s attempts to deport him from the United Kingdom. More than 2 months since the latest of a number of legal hearings, the Vice President of the Upper Immigration Tribunal has ruled that “the Secretary of State’s decision… appears to have been entirely unnecessary” and that Sheikh Raed’s appeal against the deportation order “succeeds on all grounds”.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Ockelton senior immigration judge and vice president of the Upper Tribunal said that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, “was misled” and “under a misapprehension as to the facts”. He added that “there is no evidence that the danger perceived by the Secretary of State is perceived by any of the other countries where the appellant has been, nor, save for the very tardy indictment, is there any evidence that even Israel sees the danger that the Secretary of State sees.”

Sheikh Raed, an Israeli citizen, came to London at the invitation of Middle East Monitor (MEMO) in June last year for a 10-day speaking tour, primarily to speak to parliamentarians at Westminster. His programme was publicised well in advance but attracted no interest from security officials, the UK Border Agency or the Home Office. Two days into the tour, the Home Office claimed that a banning order had been placed on the Sheikh, although neither he nor his representatives in Israel or the UK were given copies, and he was arrested at his hotel in London. Following an initial spell in custody, Sheikh Raed has been living in London under a curfew having opted to stay in Britain to clear his name. He has had to report to a local police station on a daily basis and restrictions were in place to prevent him from speaking in public.

It is understood that the Home Secretary acted initially on an email from the Community Security Trust and started the legal procedure which has resulted in humiliation for the government. Mrs. May’s reliance on pro-Israel Jewish community groups who provided the “evidence” which formed the basis of her case against Sheikh Raed is totally discredited by the judgement.

According to Dr. Daud Abdullah, the Director of MEMO, Mr. Justice Ockelton’s decision is a landmark for freedom of speech as well the rights of Palestinians to campaign against injustice at home and abroad.

“Mr. Justice Ockelton said that freedom of speech is ‘entitled to general protection’ and that is what this case is all about,” said Dr. Abdullah. “Sheikh Raed Salah is an outspoken critic of his government’s discriminatory policies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and it is entirely appropriate that a leading law officer in Britain has seen through the propaganda and stated clearly that someone, a group or an individual, has ‘misled’ the Home Secretary on such an important matter.”

Sheikh Raed will now return to his home in Israel having seen his faith in Britain’s justice system rewarded; he goes home with no stain on his character or against his name.

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For further information please contact Dr Daud Abdullah on +44 (0) 78 1448 9531

Twitter hash tag for this news: #RaedSalah

April 7, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Wars for Israel | , , , | Comments Off on Raed Salah wins appeal against deportation