British newspaper amplifies extremist message of Israel’s Islamic Movement

Up until now, the most egregious distortion, within the UK media’s coverage of the proposed ‘Jewish nation-state’ legislation, was represented by Times of London headlines suggesting that the law, if passed, would render Arab-Israelis “second-class citizens”.  

Through communication with Times of London editors, they agreed to add quotes around the term “second-class citizens” to reflect the fact that that charge merely represents the hyperbole of a few political figures in expressing their opposition to the law. (See this good backgrounder on the proposed bill, which would not erode the individual rights of non-Jews in Israel, yet alone result in ‘transfer’.)

However, the British newspaper The Telegraph has published an even more inflammatory and misleading article on the possible ramifications of the proposed law (Meet the Arab-Israelis living in fear of expulsion, Dec. 1). The article, written by their Middle East correspondent Robert Tait, amplifies the ludicrous charge by some Arab extremists that the legislation would result in the forced expulsion of Arab-Israelis.


Tait introduces readers to the Arab protagonist in the first few passages.

Basil Amara was happy to pose under the large Palestinian flag outside his shop, thinking the chance might soon disappear.

“Today the law doesn’t prevent me from raising the Palestinian flag,” he said. “But if they pass this new law, I might not be allowed to do it any more. I might have to remove it and put it up inside my house instead. It will be painful.”

Mr Amara, 35, an Arab-Israeli, was referring to plans to enact one of the most bitterly controversial pieces of legislation in Israel’s 66-year history, which would officially classify the country as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

In Kafr Kana, Mr Amara – whose shop sits just yards from where Mr Hamdan was fatally shot on November 7 – said the law would pave the way for a crackdown on Arabs, culminating in many being expelled from Israel, the land of their birth.

A bit later, Amara is quoted expressing his fear that Arabs will be “transferred”.

We fear it will lead to the withdrawal of citizenship and rights, the destruction of our towns and villages, and eventually, to transfer. It means they want to transfer us out of the country. But we will not leave. We were born here and will die here. The Palestinian refugees who live in Arab countries live under constant humiliation but we will not accept such a fate.”

Finally, the Telegraph’s Tait explains that Amara is a member of the Islamic Movement.

“After this law, you will see many Arabs [in Israel] filling the prisons because of their opposition. It’s a prelude to transfer,” said Mr Amara, a member of the Islamic Movement in Israel, a group Mr Netanyahu has accused of inciting violence and clamouring for the country’s destruction.

However, the suggestion by Tait that only Netanyahu has accused the Islamic Movement (whose ideology can be traced back to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood) of inciting violence is an egregious distortion, as evidence abounds attesting to the group’s extremism and promotion of violence.


Raed Salah, Leader of Islamic Movement’s Northern Division

CST, in a recent post condemning a planned speech – presumably by video link – by Raed Salah (head of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Division) at a Palestinian Forum in Britain event, provided background on the group’s leader.

In 2011 Salah visited the UK and the Home Secretary, having initially tried to prevent him from entering the country, then tried to have him deported. Salah overturned the deportation order but he remains excluded from the country and cannot return.

In 2007, Salah made a speech in Jerusalem at which he invoked the antisemitic blood libel. He was recently convicted of racist incitement in an Israeli court as a result, having previously also been convicted of inciting violence for the same speech. Even the immigration tribunal that overturned his deportation order found (paras 49-59) that Salah’s speech contained “a blood libel against Jews”.

Salah, then, is a convicted racist and inciter of violence who has previously used antisemitism to encourage his followers. He is one of the main proponents of the lie that Israel intends to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque. This is an incendiary and false claim that is fuelling the current violence in Jerusalem, as it has done before. It is a lie that was first used by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Nazi-supporting Mufti of Jerusalem, in the 1920s.

In addition to his endorsement of the “blood libel”, it also should be noted that Salah has promoted Nazi propaganda, and espoused antisemitic conspiracy theories about 9/11.

Shlomi Eldar, writing at Al-Monitor, provides additional background on the group’s role in promoting radicalism.

The northern faction of the Islamic movement – the more extreme of the two divisions – in Israel has been led by Sheikh Raed Salah since the 1990s.Over the course of years, he’s been arrested, tried and jailed several times, for such charges as collaborating with an enemy agent. The terminology Salah uses in all his speeches and declarations is not different from that used by the leaders of Hamas in Gaza, and is sometimes even more extreme. He’s called the Jews “murderers”; he’s praised suicide bombers and their families; and he’s used the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a symbol to stir rebellion and incite Muslims against the state. He’s even claimed that Israel has secret plans to take over the mosque and destroy it.

“The northern faction, which he still heads today,” explains Eldar, “became extreme not only within the Islamic movement; it also tore apart Umm al-Fahm, the largest Arab Muslim town in Israel”.  

“If there was once a thin strand of coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Umm al-Fahm,” added Eldar, “Salah is the man who has persistently broken it.”

The Telegraph effectively legitimized the risible charge that there’s a plan to transfer Arab-Israelis out of the country, thus transmitting the message of the group which has played a major role in promoting extremism and fomenting precisely the type of divisions between Arabs and Jews that journalists like Tait suggest the Israeli government is guilty of causing.

As Eldar suggested in his Al-Monitor article, as with the group’s conspiratorial charges about Israel’s “plan” to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque, agitprop concerning alleged racism against Arab-Israelis represents the propaganda which the Islamic Movement needs for growing, developing and disseminating their dangerous “anti-Jewish” messages.”

By uncritically reporting incendiary accusations by a member of the Islamic Movement on a supposed Zionist plan to expel Arab-Israelis, without any background on the ideology of the group leveling the charge, Robert Tait has allowed his newspaper to serve as a vehicle for the promotion of extremist agitation against the Jewish state.

16 replies »

  1. It’s alarming that the conservative Telegraph is becoming more and more like the Guardian in its bias and sensationalism about Israel. Nowadays it’s enough for someone to have a “fear” of something related to Israel for a headline and a big article.
    Tomorrow’s headline: Meet the people who fear Israel will release Piranhas in their toilet bowl.

  2. It is somewhat ironic that the newspapers do that which they accuse Israel of. Their inflammatory racist statements against Israel, and never any praise, cause problems for Jews around the world. I’m sure that every person at each of these media outlets will continue to be happy using both Jewish and Israeli scientific and medical research whilst condemning them for existing. I am equally sure that these Muslims will show them the same gratitude that they do Israelis when their time comes only who will be left to bury them?

    • I see that he has returned from his mission in Iraq very quickly. He must have missed all the Israeli good restaurants and nice hotels. So he took the 15 minutes flight to Tel-Aviv and walla…

  3. Adam, if you honestly believe that the British media are deliberately trying to construct a narrative against Israel that seeks to undermine the country ; if you think that they are deliberately trying to weave a narrative of ‘evil Israel’ to some end which they want, then no articles like this should exist in your universe. You may even feel that the British media should not pay any attention at all to what is going on in Israel

    This article is a piece which seeks to flesh out the already expressed fears that the proposed new Basic Law might bring. These fears have been expressed in the highest levels *within the Israeli government* so the charge that fears are being manufactured outside the country, by people who want to attack Israel, does not stand scrutiny.

    I can see how an article entitled ‘Meet the Arab-Israelis living in fear of expulsion’ would cause upset amongst those who are sensitive to attacks on Israel. But this is a legitimate piece for the DT to run. It asks those in the group who may, and I emphasise ‘may’, be adversely affected by the law to express themselves. It happens everywhere. Any new law has those it benefits and those it disadvantages. The best laws minimise disadvantaging anyone, while providing benefits elsewhere. And this may be one of those laws. All proposed laws are examined by the media. While the actual effect of the law is as yet unknown (the draft wording is not agreed yet) I think it is valid to explore where it could have a negative effect.

    However where perhaps we could agree is I believe there are not enough positive articles in the media about Israel. Where are the articles which outline the positive and beneficial effects of this proposed law? Where the people who feel it would enhance their lives? If these articles also appeared in the media, I for one would be happier. I would like to see more articles on the different voices within Israel which advocate different strategies, emphasising the voices we hear very little of; the non-hard-line more liberal/left factions. ( I thought your correction of the Times and Indy on the Mayor of Ashkelon was important and correct).

    Finally in response to those who would ask, why so much focus on Israel and the Middle East anyway? For me it’s because the whole region is extremely important. I honestly believe that peace in the Middle East would remove one of the biggest sources of terror and threat to world security. The cycle of instability and lack of progress feeds resentment and creates Islamic terrorists, which in turn brings in the USA, Israel’s most prominent backers; this in turn causes the US to expand the effect as far away as Afghanistan, Iraq, thus creating more jihadists and Muslim terrorists. The cycle will continue until grievances are removed and negotiated settlements are in place. Israel is at peace with all its neighbours is a key component in this. It is a very import region and Israel is the most important country in it. It warrants media attention, but of a better quality and balance.

    • Maybe the British media are not deliberately trying to construct a narrative against Israel, but they are trying to sell newspapers, and the anti-Israeli pro-Palestinian narrative sells today in the UK. So truth or proportion be damned.

      Because that’s the problem- it’s not that some opinions of Arab Israelis about this law get published, it’s that every minutia about any inconsequential law in Israel gets blown out of proportion in the UK media because it sells. Whether you are against or for this law, there is a snowball’s chance in hell that it would change anything ever, about anyone. That is what is upsetting about the world’s media obsession with Israel.

      About your last paragraph- Nobody argues that the Middle-East is important, but peace in the Middle-East is a very broad term, and if you think any settlement of the Arab world with Israel would change anything about the infinite and unending secretarial strife, political instability, fundamentalism and violence in the Middle-East, you are very, very, wrong.

      Israel is just as important in this region as any other country, not more, and you are a client of the Arab narrative if you think otherwise. Iraq civil war, Syria civil war, Egypt and Tunisia upheavals, Iran, Lebanon, Isis- none of those problems have anything to do with Israel. Israel is a scapegoat to draw attention to.

      • I agree Indigo with your overall comment. Except you have lumped Tunisia into the list without realising that it held elections recently that returned a more moderate government.Still early to say, but this could be a start to breaking the mould that has locked the Arab World in a state of backwardness for hundreds of years.

    • I agree with a lot of what you wrote here, and it’s nice to read a post that’s considering issues as it is written (I put in a “Good” rating on your list because the “Very Poor” rating you have now on this post is not deserved; that should be doled out to the many braindead idiot trolls who tromp in here, get their asses kicked and slink out with tails betwixt legs).
      That said, this article does illustrate one of the softer forms of anti-Israel crap that many British papers (mostly, not entirely, from CiF) pull. The Israeli Arab in this piece isn’t an objective observer, he’s a proud extremist and 5th columnist whose hypothetical views are given stronger shrift for no logical reason. Israeli Arabs are a major story in Israel, but the Islamic Movement is one-note and has little to offer to that narrative except hatred and nihilism.

      • Ben, I think you mean the Northern branch of the Islamic movement in Israel.
        The southern branch are very pragmatic.

    • It asks those in the group who may, and I emphasise ‘may’, be adversely affected by the law to express themselves. It happens everywhere.
      The usual disingenuous comment deflecting from the Palestinian flag, from the extremist Muslims by insinuating a normality to interview extremists as representative of groups, whether generally or particularly concerning Israel in this case when an extremist denies his identity as Arab Israeli by semonstrating the Palestinian/Hejaz flag, but complains about discrimination by a law, already postponed for long time due to the elections. This is pure hypocrisy which is shared by the journalist and this silver tongued enemy here who tries to spin a tale of law and media by generalising and to talk the antisemitic bias away by completely inappropriate comparisons.
      Any new law has those it benefits and those it disadvantages. The best laws minimise disadvantaging anyone, while providing benefits elsewhere. And this may be one of those laws. All proposed laws are …
      Besides arriving at absurd conclusions
      ..if you think that they are deliberately trying to weave a narrative of ‘evil Israel’ to some end which they want, then no articles like this should exist in your universe. You may even feel that the British media should not pay any attention at all to what is going on in Israel

      On the other side it is quite telling that they consider this man as legitimate representative, an extremist who rejects Israel.
      Just another confirmation where Dunkelmann belongs to.

      The end of his spin and media defence, after some casual remarks about the desirability of another reporting, is back on tracks. He uses the well knwon media cliché of the cycle of violence without cause and guilt, a myth which has only one end. Israel, the most important, the center of trouble, as the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East whereas I already pointed out to him that Israel has two peace treaties which he didn`t know, whereas the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel, whereas the conflict between Saudi-Arabia and Iran has nothing to doe with Israel, whereas the civil war in Libya, Yemen, Iraq etc have nothing to do with Israel, the fight of the Kurds …