Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in Israel, is making increasingly strident calls for domestic unrest – drawn along ethnic and religious lines – in Israeli society.
The Jerusalem Post reported on 8 September that the cleric is now appealing directly to Israel’s enemies to extinguish the Jewish state (“I turn to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and swear you in Allah’s name … and in the name of the shaheeds …”)
The cleric went on to say in the same interview that “Israel and its occupation will disappear”. On 17 August 2007 Jerusalem Post staff reported on Sheikh Salah’s incitement of the nation’s Muslim population to commit acts of ethnic-inspired violence against the state (“Islamic Movement chief praises Old City terrorist as ’shahid’”). In February this year, as reported in the Jerusalem Post, Sheikh Salah incited the nation’s Muslims to “save al-Aksa Mosque, free Jerusalem and end the occupation”. This is a tiny sampling of Sheikh Raed Salah’s most recent transgressions.
Sheikh Raed Salah is an Israeli citizen. Israel is in an enforced state of war with its Palestinian neighbours, in particular with the Hamas organisation that after more than a year still holds an illegally abducted soldier, Gilad Schalit, incarcerated without access to even the minimum humane standards stipulated by the International Red Cross and the UN. Schalit is a pawn in the Hamas strategy of human trafficking – a practice reviled and banned by every civilised organisation and nation the world over but still widely practised in the Islamic world. It is this same Hamas that fires daily rocket salvoes into southern Israel. And it is to this Hamas that Salah is making his appeal to crush the state of Israel.
A treasonable offence
The word for this is treason. Treason – in particular during a time of war – is a punishable offence.
At present the Muslim Waqf is being permitted, uncontested, to carve up ancient Jerusalem’s holiest Jewish sites using mass-destruction methods in the form of mechanical diggers. The Israeli government is doing as much about Sheikh Raed Salah as it is doing about the desecration of Judaism’s holiest site. Nothing. The terrorised residents of Sderot are being turned into refugees within their own country. The boundaries are being steadily rolled back – in religious, political and geographical terms. The State of Israel is being eroded at the same pace as the very foundations of Judaism’s Western Wall are being pulverised – and by the same people.
Leadership and legitimacy
Sheikh Salah puts his own position very neatly when he appeals to the leaders of the world’s fanatical Islamist fringe: “This is the time to test your leadership and its legitimacy,” he says, appealing to such beacons of spiritual enlightenment and bastions of democracy as Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi 9/11 planners and financiers, and Syria’s Hizbollah-backing Assad.
We could equally well direct the sheikh’s words to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. This is truly the time, Mr Olmert, to show your nation some sign of “leadership and legitimacy” by dealing with these open calls for treason solicited by a citizen of your own country.
Assaults from inside and out
Alternatively you could do nothing, Mr Prime Minister. Just watch your nation crumble under assaults from within the same way it did under external assaults last summer courtesy of Iran, Syria and Hizbollah. Last summer Israel survived thanks to the determination and dedication of our sons and daughters on the front lines and even way beyond enemy front lines, not thanks to the quality of the nation’s leadership. Permit me to voice my opinion, Mr Prime Minister, because two of my children were in that war, one of them lost his best friend in the course of a month-long campaign about which even the top military brass are saying there was no cohesive goal and no overall direction. That’s code language for “leadership”.
Confront or cower?
We live in a neighbourhood of bullies. You don’t contain bullies by cowering in the face of their aggression – you confront them by standing up to them and demonstrating your strength, steadfastness, nerve and determination never to bow to their threats, cost what it may. Because if you don’t confront bullies today, you can be sure you’ll pay the price tomorrow. Taking a decision to confront a bully requires leadership, Mr Prime Minister. Sometimes leadership is an uncomfortable responsibility, and it seldom gives first prize in the popularity stakes, but it always goes hand in hand with responsibility.
It’s time to exercise responsibility by showing leadership now. Arrest Sheikh Raed Salah on grounds of treason or abdicate that responsibility to someone who’s willing to do the job. Because as the sheikh himself says, this really “is the time to test your leadership and its legitimacy”.
It would be a terrible shame if it were left to our enemies to formulate the slogan that defines your premiership.
Closed door in Jordan, free rein in Israel
To put matters into even sharper perspective, Sheikh Raed Salah was denied entry into Jordan when he attempted to travel to the Hashemite Kingdom last week. The Palestinian-majority country of Jordan apparently knows something about the Sheikh that Israel doesn’t. The sheikh is barred from entering Jordan and fomenting trouble among the Palestinians there, but is given a free rein to indulge in treason at home.
Read the signs, Mr Prime Minister. I don’t want my children to be drawn into another Jihadist war abroad while at the same time fighting an unchecked fifth-column danger at home. Confront the schoolyard bullies – or close the school. Perhaps the frequent closures of Sderot’s schools indicate how you are thinking.