Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burden and Yasmin Qureshi owe Theresa May, the Home Secretary, a huge debt of gratitude for having had Sheikh Raed Salah detained on Tuesday night. She might just have saved their careers.
Had the homophobic preacher been allowed to speak at wednesday night’s event at the Houses of Parliament there would now be photographs circulating of them sharing a platform with him.
These photos would, no doubt, have featured in the political literature for the next general election and would probably have led to these MPs’ crushing defeats, as sharing platforms with self-confessed homophobes is not something the British public would wish to be associated with.
Instead Salah is awaiting deportation back to Israel.
Meanwhile, in his defence Middle East Monitor and Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been raising the straw man that Salah is not an anti-Semite on the basis of lack of proof.
While he is accused of claiming that Jews use the blood of children to make their bread, his blatant homophobia has not been made a huge issue of. His supporters are defending him only against claims of anti-Semitism.
Qureshi and Burden issued similar statements along these lines.
What is your opinion of the legislation now being discussed in the Knesset, which would grant Muslim women rights similar to those of Jewish women in matters of personal status?
“That bill is tantamount to a war on Islam. It is an attempt to dictate different, foreign values that are neither Muslim nor Palestinian values.”
What is your opinion of homosexuality?
“It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behavior of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen. There is no solution for this, unless the individual’s faith is strengthened.”
In this statement Salah denies most of the accusations:
“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.”
“With regard to the statement that ‘the Creator made from you [the Jews] monkeys and losers’, this is again a lie and fabrication.”
“I unequivocally condemn all forms of racism, including anti- Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism towards my own people, the Palestinians.”
There are no denials about his homophobia and thoughts on the inequality of women.
So what does Sarah Colborne think of sharing a platform with someone who thinks homosexuality “is a crime…that is liable to cause the worst things to happen”. Obviously nothing.
Colborne uses her own homosexuality as a political weapon. She recently wrote to Marc Almond complaining about “real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel” and urged him to cancel his tour to Israel. He did cancel, although Almond said it “was not for any political reason”:
“Dear Marc Almond,
I was shocked to hear that you were scheduled to perform in Israel. Listening to your music, I always assumed that you had a clear and unstinting compassion for those who face discrimination and oppression. Your music provided the soundtrack to many lesbians and gay men growing up in a hostile society. And as a lesbian who has been actively supporting Palestinian rights for over a decade, I felt obliged to write to you personally.
Israel is attempting to ‘pinkwash’ itself as tolerant, and gay-friendly in an attempt to paint over the discrimination, racism and apartheid that Palestinians face on a daily basis. It is an attempt to cover up Israel’s flouting of international law and its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Those who support Israel’s crimes continue to propogate the colonialist fantasies of a civilised and gay-friendly Israel, as opposed to hostile, homophobic Palestinians. This not only denies the real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel, but also the reality of life as a lesbian or gay Palestinian living under a brutal military occupation. By propogating this fantasy, Israel is attempting to co-opt support from LGBT artists and activists in other countries for its violence towards Palestinians.
I have worked with the Palestinian community in Britain and internationally, travelled to Palestinian towns and villages, and I was on the Mavi Marmara last year when it was attacked by Israeli commandos whilst in international waters, taking aid to Gaza. Our shared experiences of homophobia and discrimination should make us even more sensitive to, and supportive of, the cause of equality, freedom and justice for Palestine.
I urge you to listen to the voices of Palestinian gay and lesbian organisations, for example Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PQBDS). Please listen to those of us in the LGBT community in Britain, who believe that until Palestinians are free, none of us are free.
The cause of Palestine is the cause of justice and freedom. Please do not taint the love of the LGBT community for your music by playing in Israel.
Yet, here she is sitting next to him on Monday night at an event sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which she heads, and Middle East Monitor.
It just goes to show that Salah’s vile views can be overlooked where the joint goal is the vilification of Israel.
Will Qureshi, Corbyn and Burden now denounce Salah as a homophobe or do they consider homophobia to be less serious than anti-Semitism?
At the next general election the British public will be made well aware that these three Labour MPs were due to share a platform with someone who has clearly expressed homophobic views.
And what about the PSC, which sponsored the event on Monday night where Salah spoke and sponsored the event at Parliament on Wednesday where he was due to speak?
Will the PSC’s patrons stay silent about an organisation they support, but which has now sponsored a homophobic preacher?
Those patrons include Tony Benn, actress Julie Christie, Victoria Brittain, playwright Caryl Churchill (who wrote Seven Jewish Children), RMT leader Bob Crow, writer William Dalrymple, the reverend Garth Hewitt, Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Lowkey, Karma Nabulsi, Ilan Pappe, Alexei Sayle and Benjamin Zephania.
On the Reverend Stephen Sizer’s blog there is also a defence of Salah. Salah is referred to as a “well-respected Palestinian leader”.
Do Salah’s views on homosexuality make him a well-respected leader?
On The Apprentice the project manager on the losing team is invariably fired for the team’s losing performance. In the case of PSC chief Sarah Colborne Alan Sugar would already be pointing his finger and saying:
“Sarah. You’re fired.”