Tag Archives: Nakba

Sheikh Raed Salah: “I was on Israel’s assassination list.”

Last night at Conway Hall: Hassan Sanallah (translator), Sheikh Raed Salah, Sarah Colborne (PSC), Daud Abdullah (MEMO)

Last night at Conway Hall: Hassan Sanallah (translator), Sheikh Raed Salah, Sarah Colborne (PSC), Daud Abdullah (MEMO)

Sheikh Raed Salah made it to Conway Hall in London last night to give a talk on The Arab Spring and its effect on the conflict in Palestine. The event was sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Islamic Forum of Europe and Middle East Monitor.

Salah had been reportedly excluded by the Home Secretary. Detectives also reportedly arrived at last night’s event, but left after thinking he wasn’t there.

Salah is the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel and is accused of having used the blood libel, which he denies. He served three and a half years in prison after having confessed to financing Hamas.

Not only was Salah there last night, he will also be speaking this Wednesday at the Grand Committe room of the Houses of Parliament alongside MPs Richard Burden, Jeremy Corbyn, Yasmin Qureshi as well as Lord Alf Dubs and the Palestinian Ambassador, Dr Manuel Hassassian. Ben White (anti-Zionist polemicist), Hind Khoury (Sabeel), Diana Neslen (Jews for Justice for Palestinians) and Ismail Patel (Friends of Al Aqsa) are also due to be speaking on Wednesday. The subject under discussion will be Building Peace and Justice in Jerusalem.

But last night Salah played to a pretty sparse audience. There were about 100 people making Conway Hall, which is owned by the South Place Ethical Society, an educational charity, about a third full.

He welcomed the Arab Spring, and particularly the Egyptian Revolution, in playing a supportive role in the Palestinian cause as well as the Nakba Day and Naksa Day clashes on the Israeli border in May and June respectively. He also called for a Million Man March towards the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on 21st August.

He said that this march will confirm that the Mosque is Palestinian despite Israel’s declared intention of demolishing it in order to build the “so called Third Temple”. He said that Israel must realise that there is a limit on its designs on the Mosque or it will be the equivalent to a declaration of war on the Islamic World.

He went on to berate Barak Obama for defining Israel as a “Jewish State” and said that “a significant number of free voices from London told us that they know the truth on the issue of Palestine, but that they are suffering under the pressure of the Israel lobby here”.

He said that the “Arab Uprisings showed him that the Palestinians have support within the wider Arab family and we don’t feel alone”.

He then went on to describe what happened on the Mavi Marmara, which he was on last May, along with Sarah Colborne of the PSC, when it was intercepted by Israel:

“The ship was attacked while we were at Morning Prayer. While I was praying bullets were fired from the sea and air, killing nine peoeple and wounding many others. The attackers had a list of names of people who should be assassinated by the Israeli forces. My name was on the list along with people from the IHH and Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zoabi. One of the Israeli soldiers killed an individual who looked just like me. We were then imprisoned and we faced charges that were enough to send us to prison for decades. We were only released when Erdogan intervened. Despite all the attacks we were asked to come back again and we will continue to participate in the flotillas until Palestinian independence is realised.”

Next stop is the Houses of Parliament this Wednesday, that is unless British detectives can catch up with him in time. Watch this space.

Sheikh Raed Salah speaking at Conway Hall, 27th June 2011

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Arabs and Israelis facing the Holocaust and the Nakba (A book and a talk at SOAS)

On tuesday two hundred students attended SOAS to hear Gilbert Achcar, a Professor of International Relations at SOAS, talk about his new book The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives.

Achcar claimed:

1. The Arabs bear no responsibility at all for the Holocaust.
2. The Israelis have Nazified the Palestinian people.
3. This Nazification has come about by Israel’s broadcasting of the Mufti’s connections with Hitler during WW2.
4. The Israelis must apologise for the Nakba (the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948) for there to be peace.
5. The Israelis are today still frozen with fear by Holocaust.
6. Any anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Arab world is purely a result of Israel’s aggression or Israel’s societal shift to the right.

He presented the Arab and Israeli narratives, as he saw them, on the conflict as follows:

Arab – Israel is a Zionist colonial enterprise where the “ethnic cleansing” of 1948 was a defining moment. The expansion of this colonial state continued after the 1967 war and continues to this day with the oppression of the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza.

Israeli – Zionism was a response to anti-Semitism and Israel was created as redemption for the Holocaust. The Arabs are like the Nazis. There was no ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the 1948 War was purely a defensive one.

Achcar didn’t refute the Arab narrative but did refute the Israeli one.

He said that there had been a total lack of sympathy with Nazism throughout the Arab world and no military actions were undertaken by the Arabs with the Axis powers but Israel needs to acknowledge its role in the Nakba and its oppression of the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Arabs must acknowledge the role of the Holocaust on the Israeli psyche.

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (The Mufti) cleared by Achcar of all charges of conspiring with the Nazis

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (The Mufti) cleared by Gilbert Achcar of any responsibility at all for the Holocaust

Next to speak was Palestinian author and journalist Nur Masalha.

Masalha said “we are not responsible for the Holocaust. We are its indirect victims. We paid for the Holocaust and we are still paying for it. The Jews were its victims but we are also its victims. We are the Jews of the Jews. We have become the Jews of history” and he spoke of “concentration camps in Gaza”.

He claimed the Mufti was not an anti-Semite and that as Jews and Muslims had fought in several wars together this was proof that there was no history of anti-Semitism in the Middle East.

He thought that a Holocaust denier in France would go to prison and in the UK would lose his job but if you deny the Nakba in the UK, like the current Chief Rabbi did, you go to the House of Lords.

Last to speak was Idith Zertal of the Institute for Jewish Studies, University of Basel. Again we heard that the Arabs had nothing to do with the Holocaust. She said that too much had been said about the Mufti and that the Palestinians are the scapegoats of the Israelis.

She also felt that Israelis are so helpless in the face of such an event like the Holocaust, and how it was allowed to happen, that Israelis are transferring their rage onto the Palestinians.

She said that even the Poles share in this Israeli “rage” because as so many Israeli youngsters visit Auschwitz they think the Poles exterminated the Jews.

How I wished for a Melanie Phillips or a Geoffrey Alderman to be on the panel.

The audience asked the usual banal questions including on the prospect of a one-state solution, while a few felt the urge to label themselves “Jewish” before comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.

I also contributed:

1. How can Achcar claim that the Palestinians had no responsibility for the Holocaust? The Arabs had persuaded the British to shut the door of British Mandate Palestine to Jewish immigration leaving the Jews to their fate at the hands of the Nazis. (There was also the 1937 Peel Commission which offered the Jews just 20% of British Mandate Palestine. Had the Arabs accepted even more Jews would have escaped the Nazis).

Achcar told me that all nations had shut their doors to the Jews including “racist Britain”.

Evenso, that doesn’t absolve the Arabs from all responsibility for the Holocaust!

2. Israel does bear little, if any, responsibility for the 1948 Nakba as UN Resolution 181 created two states; one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. The Arabs rejected it and chose war instead.

Achcar countered that the Palestinians had a right to resist the takeover of “their country”.

3. Jews were not treated well in Arab countries. They were dhimmi (tolerated and protected but subordinate) and one million were expelled after Israel’s creation compared to the 750,000 Arabs that left British Mandate Palestine/Israel. There was also the Farhud of 1941 during which 175 Iraqi Jews were massacred.

Achcar answered that it was debatable as to why the Jews had “migrated” but it was nothing compared to the fate of the Palestinians. He also said that despite being dhimmi Jews had always fared better in Arab and Muslim countries than in Western countries.

4. As for Nazification if anything it was the Arabs who were doing this of Israel with slogans like “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” and talk of Palestinians in concentration camps. Even Nur Masalha had just mentioned concentration camps.

Masalha replied that it was the British who invented concentration camps so he, of course, was not referencing the Holocaust.

Achcar did however dispute Masalha’s astonishing claim that the Mufti was not an anti-Semite. He said the Mufti was anti-Semitic as evidenced by his radio broadcasts from Berlin inciting Muslims to kill the Jews wherever you find them. But, Achcar said, this had all come to nothing anyway.

Hizbollah fighters: According to Gilbert Achcar the Nazi salutes are purely down to Israel's behaviour.

Hizbollah fighters: According to Gilbert Achcar the Nazi salutes are purely down to Israel's behaviour.

However, I would suggest, it isn’t the Holocaust that keeps Israelis locked in a state of fear but these murderous pronouncements of intent by the Mufti which have been taken up by Hamas and Hizbollah.

The Hamas Charter explicitly calls on Muslims to kill Jews and Sheikh Nasrallah, the head of Hizbollah, said that “if all the Jews gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”.

But not once were Hamas or Hizbollah even mentioned. There was no acknowledgment of any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. There was no acknowledgment of the ethnic cleansing of one million Jews from Arab countries who had to leave everything behind them.

Quite incredibly, all three speakers painted the Arab nations, and the Palestinians in particular, as innocence personified.

The only thoughtful comment came from Idith Zertal.

She agreed that some Arabs do Nazify Israel but felt that Israelis invented this type of the Nazification.

However, she felt it was now important for both sides to find other words to describe the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Holocaust was a unique tragedy and there is no place for such comparisons today.

Finally, after two long hours, some sense was spoken.