Jeremy Corbyn blamed the "Zionist lobby" for securing the deportation from Britain of the cleric infamous for promoting the blood libel, it has been revealed.
In a 2011 article for the far-left Morning Star, the future Labour leader attacked papers, including the JC, for promoting "hysteria" about Mr Salah, saying it was “time that Western governments stood up to the Zionist lobby which seems to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism”.
He wrote that Mr Salah had entered Britain “despite the best efforts” of papers including the Evening Standard, the Telegraph “and the Jewish Chronicle”.
In the piece, which was unearthed on Tuesday by investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin, Mr Corbyn described Mr Salah’s subsequent arrest while in the UK as “bizarre”, saying it seemed "to indicate that the right wing press has more power than rationality.”
By the time Mr Corbyn was writing, Mr Salah's comments were well documented.
In 2007, during a speech at an East Jerusalem protest, he was quoted as saying: “We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood.
"Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.”
He was charged with inciting violence and racism and initially acquitted but later convicted on appeal in Israel.
The blood libel - accusing Jews of using the blood of Christian children in their Passover Matzot - is a centuries-old staple of antisemitism.
Mr Corbyn’s article did not mention the detail of Mr Salah’s comments, instead saying that “the sadness is that his is a voice of Palestinian people that needs to be heard”.
As reported by the JC at the time, Mark Gardner from the Community Security Trust [CST] said: “The pro-Palestinian movement claims to be anti-racist but it is willingly blind to the antisemitic world view of its Islamist partners.
“Worse still, they lie that Jewish concerns over this antisemitism is a fake cover for Israel.
"It seems ridiculous that extremists like Salah cannot be kept out of the Palace of Westminster and that we have seen this outrageous situation occur many times over the years."
In April 2012, Mr Corbyn was still lobbying on behalf of Mr Salah, which is when he made his now infamous comment about looking forward to inviting the cleric to “tea on the House of Commons terrace, because you deserve it”.
When the Palestinian cleric won his appeal against the Home Office on a technicality that same month, Mr Corbyn tweeted: “Delighted that Sheikh Raed Salah was [sic] won his appeal against the Home Secretary on all counts. His voice of the Palestinians must be heard.”
In an interview with Channel 4 News during the 2015 Labour leadership contest, Mr Corbyn said he was unaware that Mr Salah had been convicted of racist incitement in Israel over his blood libel comments.
He said Mr Salah “did not at any stage utter any antisemitic remarks to me”, when they were together.
When asked whether he had made “misjudgements” about certain people, Mr Corbyn responded: “You’re putting a lot of words into my mouth about ‘misjudgments’.
"Any form of racism is wrong, the need to talk to people to bring about a peace process is absolutely right.”
Commenting on the story, a Labour spokesperson said:
“Jeremy Corbyn is a determined supporter of justice for the Palestinian people and opponent of antisemitism.
“He condemns support for Palestinians being used as a mask for antisemitism and attempts to silence legitimate criticism of Israel by wrongly conflating it with antisemitism."
The spokesperson cited "widespread criticism of the attempt to deport Raed Salah", adding: "His appeal against deportation succeeded on all grounds.“
In a 2012 appeal on Mr Salah's deportation, the Upper Tribunal did rule in his favour but the tribunal dismissed the attempt to suggest that Mr Salah had not invoked the blood libel as "wholly unpersuasive".
Its judgment said: "We do not find this comment could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews."