Officials of the Islamic Movement in Israel have sent a letter of complaint to the British ambassador in Tel Aviv about the arrest of their leader, Sheikh Raed Salah. The letter makes mention of the fact that Sheikh Raed was invited to the UK to give lectures and take part in seminars on the status of the significant Arab minority in the Zionist state, including sessions in the Houses of Parliament.
It is not known if the ambassador, Matthew Gould, has responded yet, but the Movement officials pointed out to him that Sheikh Salah entered the UK legally using his own Israeli passport. Visas are not required for Israeli passport holders wishing to enter Britain, so Sheikh Salah was able to enter without question. Neither Sheikh Raed Salah nor his representatives in Britain or Israel received a copy of the banning order which Home Secretary Theresa May claims to have issued last week.
Supporters of Sheikh Salah believe that his arrest and possible deportation – he has been granted leave to appeal against the decision – is an attempt by the British government to placate the influential Israel Lobby and stifle discussion of the official discrimination faced by Israeli-Arabs who make up 20% of the population. Israel and the Lobbyists promote the Zionist state as a thriving democracy; opponents cite legislation and official policies of the Israeli government which discriminate openly against non-Jews as tangible evidence that democratic values are only applicable to Jews in the country.
"It is typical of British double-standards," said one Palestinian, "that the British government is stopping a leading Palestinian human and civil rights activist from speaking in the UK at the same time that it is seeking to change the universal jurisidction law to allow Israeli politicians and soldiers accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity to visit Britain without the threat of an arrest warrant being issued."