Middle East Monitor (MEMO) has published a lengthy report (pdf) giving its version of events in the affair surrounding the arrest and attempted deportation of Sheikh Raed Salah. This has been covered extensively on the CST Blog, but there is one aspect which MEMO’s latest report highlights quite gloriously: the extent to which Salah’s supporters have changed their story repeatedly, in an attempt to deflect the very real concerns about Salah’s antisemitic statements and extremist behaviour.
One of the central allegations surrounds a speech made by Salah in Jerusalem in February 2007, in which he said the following:
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 the 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.
It was claimed that in making these comments, Salah invoked the antisemitic ‘blood libel'; that he was questioned about the speech by the Israeli police; and that he was subsequently charged with inciting antisemitism as a result. MEMO’s report reproduces this quote on page 18 (although curiously it omits the words “is this religion?”, even though they appear in the version used at Salah’s immigration tribunal). The report’s explanation of what happened is, to say the least, rather confused.
- On whether Salah made the comments, Salah’s Islamic Movement said:
Salah’s Islamic Movement said:
It has been claimed that he repeated a “blood libel” by saying, “among those whose blood was mixed with the sacred (Jewish) bread”; this is an absolute lie and a malicious fabrication. (p.41).
But MEMO say:
Sheikh Raed contends that he made reference to “holy bread”, not Jewish bread, and given that there is no concept of “holy bread” in Judaism, it is impossible for his statement to have been an invocation of the “blood libel” against Jews. The phrase “holy bread” was used in the speech as a metaphor for people who have used religion as a justification for committing crimes; here it was used figuratively as a reference to Christians like the inquisitors who committed crimes against humanity in the name of religion. He intended to draw a parallel between such crimes committed in Europe and the Israelis who seek to oppress Palestinians using religion.
Moreover, anyone who reads the speech in full would realise that an invocation of the “blood libel” is completely out of context. (p.22)
- On whether Israeli police questioned Salah about the ‘blood libel’ comment:
When Sheikh Raed was questioned in Israel about this speech, he was not asked about the “blood libel” as it was quite clear that his references did not relate to Jews. (p.22)
But Salah’s Islamic Movement said:
Sh. Raed was questioned by the Israeli authorities over allegations that he made such a remark, which he refuted categorically challenging them to provide any shred of evidence and they could not. (p.41)
- On whether, and when, Salah was charged with antisemitism as a result of this speech:
In 2007, he was indicted for inciting violence and racism after it was said that a speech he gave led to public disorder. He was also accused in the media of having invoked an ancient blood libel against Jews. (p.8)
Prior to coming to Britain in June 2011, Sheikh Raed had never been charged with anti-Semitism inside Israel itself. However, since the UK exclusion against him, two indictments in Israel have been issued. (p.9)
Sheikh Raed was questioned by Israeli authorities about the anti-Semitism allegations at the time they were first circulated and no charges were ever brought against him. (p.11)
Salah’s initial response was to deny all these allegations, which was then repeated by his UK supporters. Salah’s story only changed when evidence contradicting him was uncovered by CST, which then left his supporters defending a position that he had vacated. The same goes for Salah’s links to Hamas, which he initially denied before the proof emerged of his 2005 criminal conviction for funding Hamas.
There is much else that is problematic in MEMO’s report, not least the repeated Zionist conspiracy-mongering that is becoming their stock-in-trade. But this example illustrates a lesson they ought to heed: if you make things up as you go along, sooner or later people will stop believing what you say.