Jewish World

Sitting on the fence: Watching the nutters descend on Hendon.

Yesterday I walked the long 500 yards from my home with a few other people to witness both the Pro-Lieberman protest and the Anti-Lieberman PSC protest.

As I arrived there were about twenty protesters from both groups. On the one side, a protest organised hastily by the British Israel Coalition (BIC) and on the other, one organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

We decided that we did not want to join either group, as both are as deluded as each other.

Why, as a committed Zionist did I not join the Pro-Israel protest, you may ask?

Because I see a strong difference between Hasbara (defending the State of Israel) and Zionism (the fulfilling of the Zionist dream, as enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence) – both have purposes and both actions I do and will perform, however, I will not defend a man who’s values stand contrary to those defined in Israel’s founding document. Israel was founded as a Jewish and Democratic State, free for all of the people inhabiting the land, including minorities. This is something that Mr Lieberman opposes, and is why I cannot support this man, despite him being the democratically elected Foreign Minister of Israel. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the British Israel Coaltion see this difference. For the BIC is it pretty clear cut, you are either with them or against them.

My opposition to Avigdor Lieberman does not mean that I automatically fall into the PSC/Anti-Israel camp, I oppose the PSC/BDS just as much. I feel that their constant attempts to delegitimise Israel, and supporters of Israel does nothing for the Palestinian cause, nothing for British community relations and ultimately is a loose association of people from the peace movement, fanatical Muslims, and antisemites.

If there was a Zionist Anti-Lieberman protest I would have joined that, as this man does not speak for my Zionism.

Neither of the protest groups were presenting a coherent message of two free states, for two free peoples. This is the message that was lost and has been lost now for a long time in the discourse that takes place.

Anyway, an hour or so in and most people had arrived. With the British Israel Coalition you had a pen of around seventy people, and across the road, and outside an additional twenty. Most had Israeli flags wrapped around themselves. In the PSC area (as they decided not to use the pen given to them by the police, but to occupy a small green area nearest the entrance to the Hotel) you had about sixty protesters.

From then on you could easily have mistaken this for a football match. Both groups ceased even mentioned Avigdor Lieberman and just started chanting at each other. This is when my shame began. From where I was sitting, I could hear both sides pretty clearly and some of the slogans both were shouting at each other were disgusting. I expect such explosive language from the PSC, as many are rooted in the far left and it is no secret that the far lefts vocabulary is colourful, at all protests. Shouting  (their most common slogan) ‘From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free’ clearly expresses a sentiment that Israel should not exist, and that the Jewish people do not have the right to a homeland at all. This is offensive and antisemetic. The Jewish people, as with all others, including the Palestinians, have the right to self-determination, and anyone who refuses a people that right is bigoted.

What shocked me was the behaviour of many in the Pro-Israel pen. You had chants fairly regularly proclaiming that “There is no such thing as Palestine”, you could hear clearly a protester shouting at a young Pakistani man filming the protest “go home to Pakistan you Paki, this is not your country” you had more chants calling the PSC “Islamist Fascists” and the people with megaphones were evoking anti-fascist language. Claiming that we (the Jews) should “Drive these fascists out of Hendon”. The language was emotive, aggressive and embarrassing for me as a Jew and as a Zionist.

The key problem here, and the problem with the British Israel Coalition is either a)They do not actually organise/have any control over these protests. b) They purposely want to intimidate anti-Israel protesters, almost as if it is a tit-for-tat game.

You cannot organise such protests/campaigns unless you have a coherent message and proper stewarding to ensure the highest standards from participants. I do not think that the BIC care about standards. They just want a crowd with pitchforks.

I’m going to ‘out’ my favourite person in the BIC. The person shouting racist abuse at the young Pakistani man was standing right next to Jonathan Hoffman. Jonathan Hoffman is the leading light of this coalition of nutters. He is also the Co-Vice Chair of the Zionist Federation. At no point did Jonathan Hoffman intervene or try to tone down the protester standing next to him. He stood by, waving his Israeli flag, shouting other stuff, which although not racist, I do not find particularly inspiring. It is fair to say that he is one of the leaders of the UK Zionist right, one of the figureheads of the staunch Zionist Israel can do no wrong crowd, but he showed a complete lack of leadership by not intervening. I am not sure what is worse, someone shouting such abuse or no one intervening.

At the end I saw the worst part. The PSC group were going to leave, and march to Hendon Central. The Pro-Israel group followed them, kettled them and forced the police to give them an escort to the station. This is not how Jews should behave, we do not behave like thugs.

The only real positive is that in Hendon, one of the most Jewish and Zionist areas in the country, people did not come out in mass numbers to support the BIC. The BIC (and Avigdor Lieberman) are out of step with British Jewry, out of step with British Zionists and the poor showing yesterday showed that cannot claim to be the ‘Fastest growing Pro-Israel movement in the UK’.

Anyone there will know that Liebermans presence was not required. These two groups came as a reaction to each other – not to defend any principle. Ultimately, yesterday was shameful for all. Now time to reflect.

62 thoughts on “Sitting on the fence: Watching the nutters descend on Hendon.

  1. Please, let’s abandon these cliches.

    Is it also offensive and anti-Romani to say that the Roma people don’t deserve a homeland of their own if this means displacing people from an already populated region?

  2. I fully uphold the right self-determination, just not at the cost of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. You are basically the same as Lieberman, its just you’re afraid to admit that Israel is a democracy for Jews only, and policies of transfer and other racially motivated legislation are necessary for it’s existence. To say that anyone who opposes Israel’s right to be a Jewish state (by using such policies) is a bigot is a bit silly really. At least Lieberman is honest about what Israel is trying to do in terms of the Palestinians, and I find your fake “middle ground” approach quite offensive, as you obviously seem to value Jewish Rights above Palestinian Rights, but don’t want to admit it. That’s Bigotry.

  3. British-Israel Coalition condemns racism

    Bigots “not welcome” at our demonstrations, say organisers.

    LONDON, 23 May 2012

    Yesterday evening the British-Israel Coalition helped organise a last-minute rally to counter an anti-Israel group picketing the JNF [Jewish National Fund] event.

    The anti-Israel demonstrators, including members and supporters of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Stop the JNF, are opposed to Israel’s existence as an independent country.
    They have made a point of picketing and harassing all Israelis, regardless of whether they represent the state or not. It makes no difference to them whether Israelis are liberal, conservative or apolitical, or are merely private citizens, academics, actors or athletes.

    Our coalition supports Israel in its pursuit of a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, with two secure and independent states as an eventual goal. We stand against terrorism and violence.

    We will not stand with racists and bigots. We turn them away. The BIC opposes the EDL, the JDL and any other extremist organisation.

    Word of the counter demonstration travelled fast and within a few hours hundreds of people had decided to join in.

    Unfortunately, among the many hundreds of decent and sincere supporters who turned up were two particular individuals who are known extremists bent on causing trouble. We identified them quickly, and turned them away.

    It has been reported that a demonstrator, who was possibly one of those we expelled, is alleged to have made a racist comment. If this allegation is correct, we condemn this unreservedly. We oppose all racism and bigotry, whether from the EDL or the PSC.

    “As a coalition of supporters of Israel, we welcome and embrace people from all races and religions. We are pleased to include people from many different backgrounds, so would not wish to be associated with any form of racism,” said Sam Westrop, an organiser of last night’s BIC demonstration.

    “We do work hard to ensure the exclusion of those who might attend our rallies with the any bad intentions. While it is obviously difficult to spot a potential troublemaker, we will continue to make strongest efforts to exclude any such demonstrators. We ask that those who do not share our message of tolerance and peace to please stay away,” added Kasim Hafeez, co-Director of the British Israel Coalition.

    The British Israel Coalition is proud to have stood up for Israel yesterday, and are proud to make clear our commitment to anti-extremism, liberal values, and security and justice for Israel.

  4. Pathetic Adam. You didn’t join the demo against the racist PSC but instead choose to round on me – and not for something I did do, but for something I didn’t do!

    Can I remind you Adam – it was not a ZF demonstration. It was not my business to police what others in the pro-Israel pen might have been saying.

    If you heard it why did YOU not say something?

  5. British-Israel Coalition condemns racism

    Bigots “not welcome” at our demonstrations, say organisers.

    LONDON, 23 May 2012

    Yesterday evening the British-Israel Coalition helped organise a last-minute rally to counter an anti-Israel group picketing the JNF [Jewish National Fund] event.

    The anti-Israel demonstrators, including members and supporters of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Stop… the JNF, are opposed to Israel’s existence as an independent country.
    They have made a point of picketing and harassing all Israelis, regardless of whether they represent the state or not. It makes no difference to them whether Israelis are liberal, conservative or apolitical, or are merely private citizens, academics, actors or athletes.

    Our coalition supports Israel in its pursuit of a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, with two secure and independent states as an eventual goal. We stand against terrorism and violence.

    We will not stand with racists and bigots. We turn them away. The BIC opposes the EDL, the JDL and any other extremist organisation.

    Word of the counter demonstration travelled fast and within a few hours hundreds of people had decided to join in.

    Unfortunately, among the many hundreds of decent and sincere supporters who turned up were two particular individuals who are known extremists bent on causing trouble. We identified them quickly, and turned them away.

    It has been reported that a demonstrator, who was possibly one of those we expelled, is alleged to have made a racist comment. If this allegation is correct, we condemn this unreservedly. We oppose all racism and bigotry, whether from the EDL or the PSC.

    “As a coalition of supporters of Israel, we welcome and embrace people from all races and religions. We are pleased to include people from many different backgrounds, so would not wish to be associated with any form of racism,” said Sam Westrop, an organiser of last night’s BIC demonstration.

    “We do work hard to ensure the exclusion of those who might attend our rallies with the any bad intentions. While it is obviously difficult to spot a potential troublemaker, we will continue to make strongest efforts to exclude any such demonstrators. We ask that those who do not share our message of tolerance and peace to please stay away,” added Kasim Hafeez, co-Director of the British Israel Coalition.

    The British Israel Coalition is proud to have stood up for Israel yesterday, and are proud to make clear our commitment to anti-extremism, liberal values, and security and justice for Israel.

    http://www.thejc.com/blogs/jonathan-hoffman/response-a-labour-mps-antisemitic-comment

    Let’s see you deal with the motes in your own eye Adam….

  6. Actually Adam , how do you know for sure that Mr Hoffman failed to remonstrate with the individual . Were you observing him for the duration of the protest and privy to his every word . You fail to mention anyone else in close proximity who would have heard the abuse .
    Why did you not mention your concerns to the police .
    More to the point , your obsession with Mr Hoffman appears somewhat of a concern .

  7. “The British Israel Coalition is proud to have stood up for Israel yesterday, and are proud to make clear our commitment to anti-extremism, liberal values, and security and justice for Israel.”

    Nonsense. If you are “anti-extremism” and for “liberal values”, why do you support Avigdor Lieberman, who is on the other side of the fence on both these issues? You are an embarrasment to the pro-Israel movement.

  8. There is much in this article with which I agree. However Mr Langleben has made a few basic mistakes.

    For a start the counter-demonstration was not pro-Lieberman as he presumes; it was pro-Israel. I know that many of those who attended were not supporters of Mr Lieberman and his policies but felt that they had to defend Israel by showing solidarity and defend his right to freedom of speech.

    And don’t think for one instant that our enemies were protesting about his presence. He was just the excuse for them to gather and spew their vile abuse. Next week they’ll be doing it at The Globe Theatre where Habima are performing. Maybe Mr Langleben objects to them having the freedom to perform in the same way that he apparently wants to deny freedom of speech to Mr Lieberman.

    Secondly, this counter-demonstration wasn’t led by BIC. BIC simply responded to the failure of our communal bodies – the ZF, the JLC, the BoD etc – to organise anything. Apparently these bodies were quite content to sit back and allow Jew-haters and Israel-haters to demonstrate. All BIC did was to alert people on their mailing list and ask them to turn up to show solidarity with Israel.

    With regard to our conduct at the demonstration, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Langleben. It was a balagan which achieved nothing other than demonstrating that some of us believe that our enemies should not be given free rein to spout their abuse; and this has to change.

    Unlike our opponents we have no clear policy; we have no clear strategy; we have no clear message; and we are not organised. There is no tactical plan. And that’s because we have no clear leadership. Those elected or self-appointed to lead the community have failed us and I for one see no signs of this changing. I know from recent conversations with some of these individuals that they actually think they are doing a good job defending Jews and Israel, that the work they’re doing ‘behind the scenes’ – the ‘nuanced approach’ as one of their representatives recently wrote – is paying dividends. Well, perhaps it is, in ways we don’t see.

    Supporters of Israel have lost faith in these communal bodies. Hence the increase in the number of independent activists and groups, many of whom are coming together to develop their own strategies and modes of behaviour for all sorts of ‘events’ including public demonstrations.

    Many of these activists are happy to work under the aegis of or in cooperation with the British Israel Coalition; because that’s what it is – a coalition of people whose common aim is to defend Israel in every (non-military) way possible. It’s not pro-Lieberman; it’s not anti-Lieberman. It’s not right wing; it’s not left wing. It’s not secular; it’s not religious. It encompasses the broad spectrum of opinion (with the exception of those ‘Israel-lovers’ who want to see the State disappear, the ‘As-A-Jews’ who believe that Israel has no right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people and that Israelis have no right to decide what type of government they want to elect).

    BIC is a young organisation led by committed people. It’s still developing and no doubt will make mistakes along the way. It will upset some people with the things they say and do. Others will applaud it for making a public stand in support of Israel. The conduct at demonstrations will change for the better as they exert more influence and people begin to embrace the perceived benefits of their focused philosophy. Give it time.

    I would suggest to Mr Langeben that he might find out more about BIC – or even seek to get involved – before he rushes to condemn. I’ve always found that the most compelling arguments are based on solid facts instead of suppositions and assumptions.

  9. “Yesterday I walked the long 500 yards from my home with a few other people to witness both the Pro-Lieberman protest and the Anti-Lieberman PSC protest”

    In other words had it not been 500 yards from your home you would not have even bothered to “witness” — let alone oppose the PSC fascists like we did …

    You clearly have never been to any of our counter-demo’s before. Why not? What kind of Zionist fails to stand up for Israel against the PSC?

    “Neither of the protest groups were presenting a coherent message of two free states, for two free peoples.”

    Not true. We were chanting “we want peace, they want terror”

    “They purposely want to intimidate anti-Israel protesters”

    You are blissfully ignorant of the intimidation that we put up with week after week:

    Just one example:
    http://www.thejc.com/blogs/jonathan-hoffman/smeared-pscs-salim-alam

    “The person shouting racist abuse at the young Pakistani man was standing right next to Jonathan Hoffman”

    Actually I was moving around. You are wrong again. I heard one comment from someone who seemed to be Israeli but that was it. By the way I suffer from tinnitus and my hearing is not great. But of course you would not know that.

    You seem to want to be some kind of cricket commentator – moreover a commentator who turns a blind eye to what’s happening in your own back yard:

    http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/vote-clegg-or-brown-dont-get-tsipi

    Do us all a favour and clean up your own Augean stables first before you start trying to micro-manage the way we run counter-demos

    “If there was a Zionist Anti-Lieberman protest I would have joined that”

    Who stopped you organising one Adam?

    Or do you prefer cricket commentary from the sidelines, carping like some demented Stadler or Waldorf at those of us who genuinely do try to do something?

  10. Adam – Do you have no shame for posting this? Of course, you know better than all of us including the Israeli electorate.

  11. Adam you say “Israel was founded as a Jewish and Democratic State, free for all of the people inhabiting the land, including minorities. This is something that Mr Lieberman opposes”

    On what basis do you say that Mr Lieberman opposes it?

    I have read a lot of what he has said, and it is all consistent with Me Lieberman’s support for those principles and for all Israel’s citizens to have the same rights and obligations.

  12. Why can’t everyone just be friends?…Surely Life is too short, to be arguing with each other.

    Believe it or not, you are all standing up for the same things, You are just disagreeing over the minor details. This sort of in fighting for the same general cause is never going to achieve anything.

    “Together we stand, Divided we fall”

    • Wrong. As far as I and many British Jews are concerned, the PSC and the lunatics on the pro-Israel side are birds of the same feather. They deserve each other inasmuch as they have nothing positive to say or contribute about either of their causes. They are small, but vocal, minuscule groupules who bring shame on their relative sides.

      • It wasn’t clear…I was talking about the British Jews who are currently arguing with each other above. I am not for one minute under the belief that Pro Israel and Pro Palestine groups will ever get on. The middle east is far more complex than that.

        However you need to realize that having many small groups is not as good as having one large group. You will get far more respect and stop being classed as small extremist groups.

        But what do I know… You guys can just carry on arguing with each other and watch nothing come of it

    • Jonathan allowed himself to be goaded by the PSC. The video was clearly edited and did not show the provocation that led to the shouting match.

      The fact that you link to PSC sites that give a false impression of events to argue their case against Jonathan shows that you are certainly not a real Zionist, whatever you call yourself.

      Most of the people on that PSC demo support Hamas. Some of them made it very clear that they are anti-Semite, One even said to me that Jews drink children’s blood at Passover. For Bruce Levy and other Jews to associate themselves with supporters of Hamas, an organisation that calls for Jews to be killed, is stupid and self-defeating. Those who link to their sites, as “realzionist” does, are clearly associating themselves with such sentiments also.

      I agree with “The Voice of Common Sense” when he says “..infighting for the same general cause is never going to achieve anything. ‘Together we stand, Divided we fall’”

      • Joe Has nobody ever managed to provoke you? The PSC were making extremely viscous remarks including calls for Israel to be destroyed and more.

      • Bruce Levy told me that Gilad Shalit should have been dug up and reburied. That is the kind of slimeball we are dealing with.

  13. Stephen, Hoffman is a self styled leader of a very small extremist, racist element of the Zionist Federation, that the main stream sane community needs to detach itself and disassociate itself from. Someone that can be so easily goaded into homophobic rants is not fit to represent the community in any way, shape, or form. Sometimes divided rather than united is best.

    • I believe that Jonathan is co-vice chair of the Zionist Federation. He was attacking Levy for joining with anti-Semites who want to see Israel destroyed. It wasn’t a homophobic rant. I certainly have seen no evidence of racism from him. I think you just like to make unfounded personal attacks on those who go out of their way to support Israel.

      • How could it be “homophobic” when i have no idea of Levy’s sexuality nor do I wish to have.
        In any case worms are hermaphrodites.

      • Calling him the “Queen of Renegade Jews” – and you have no idea of his sexuality? Pull the other one. You committed an alleged offence under the Public Order Act. I am surprised at Bruce Levi’s magnanimity in not seeking to prosecute you.

      • “queen” as in “drama queen”.

        Foolish inconsequential malodorous little man.

      • Tsk, tsk, Jonathan. Nice try. Still not good enough though. Drama queen, my eye. Do you think people came up the Thames on a canoe?
        And more crass language after asking at the Board for civility, too. Like most bullies, you can dish it out, but you can’t take it.

  14. Ask Millis about the time he falsely claimed Col. Shalom Eisner had been dismissed from the IDF. Eisner was provoked too. His hand had been fractured by the ISM anarchists. But of course Millis just jumps on edited film which fails to show the whole story. Some journalist!

  15. Hoffie, I neither know if he said it and if he did, who he said it to. I merely point out that for time immemorial, you have been saying he said it to Richard Millet, and now you’re saying he said it to you.

      • Ok, I’ll do you a deal. You first. You produce the evidence that he said it at all. After all, you are a proven habitual, unconscionable liar. Now get back to work. I can’t afford this.

      • realzionist. No Jonathan is not. But you link to PSC sites that slur Hoffman by lies and distorting editing. It is your word that should be treated with scepticism.
        You just hate Jonathan and do not like supporters of Israel.

        It is impossible to prove what was said to whom if it wasn’t taped, but calling Jonathan a liar for his account, when you were not present and he was, calls your integrity into question, not his.

    • I suggest you read Goldhagen’s excellent book about those who stood at the side and in silence. And when you’ve done that, I suggest you read Leviticus 19-33-34 to see the correct Jewish way to behave towards the foreigners among us.

      • I can’t find the part in either publication that says we are to welcome with open arms those who wish to destroy us. Please provide a clearer reference.

      • Meant that bit about staying silent while others were smashing windows, chanting racist abuse and the like. Then there’s this: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a. Hillel, remember? It’s not just a street name in Jerusalem

      • Seems like a good argument for standing up to anti-Semites and especially those who support Hamas with their justification for the murder of Jews and their persecution of minorities, including gays, in Gaza and their suppression of women’s rights.

      • Indeed, Stephen, and their mirror image who embarrassed themselves, the Jewish community and Israel advocacy outside the Pillar Hotel on Tuesday. No doubt these two groups of non-entities will do their damnedest to spoil The Merchant of Venice next Monday and Tuesday at the Globe. Some of us want to enjoy the Habima production in the original Shakespearean Hebrew.

  16. Adam
    At 7.34 pm on the 23 rd you allowed a defamatory link to be posted on your blog .
    Perhaps you have not opened the link to the blog but that is no excuse .
    The blog has been put up by a coward who hides behind a moniker in order to give him anonymity .
    Nevertheless , it is incumbent on you to remove trace of all defamatory remarks in order to avoid consequential legal action .

    • Thaks Harvey – 7.38pm on 23rd (not 7.34pm).

      (I already messaged Mr Langleben via F’book to warn him of this)

  17. Stephen, link to PSC site? When? Where? How? If you mean the Roberta arrest video, that wasn’t a PSC site. It was, I acknowledge, a Palestinian friendly site. But that is where it turned up. It wasn’t a propaganda video, it merely was meant to illustrate where Roberta is at now. The footage speaks for itself. I also linked to the JC, Richard Millet’s blog, Harry’s Place, to list just a few.

    Would you like me to reinstate my page detailing a sample of Hoffman’s proven lies, large in absolute terms, but small in relation to what I could have put in but didn’t get around to. That can be corrected. Come to think of it, I will.

    Haaa Harvey! We did make your day, afterall.

    • Fortunately the link to the most offending site has been removed, and with good reason. Leaving it there might have got the host into trouble.

      Actually Israel is Palestinian friendly. The PSC are not, and it was they who were opposing Ahava and friends of Israel at the demo in the video. Nobody was arrested in that video you linked to and I replied to. The PSC don’t want peace they want to destroy Israel and that would really cause the Palestinians to suffer.

      I, like most friends of Israel and most Israelis, would like to see a two state solution with Israel and Palestine living in peace together. It is the Arabs that have been opposed to a 2 state solution since 1947, while Israel has always wanted peace.

    • I know one thing . You have posted an ugly defamatory blog without signing off on it believing there can be no come back to you that way .
      What is your obsession with Jonathan ? Why are you cyber stalking him . Are you firing on all cylinders ?

  18. That site is disgusting. Hoffman, like all good Zionists, wanted nothing to do with the EDL and said so to them and told the police at the demo that he did not want them in the same demo area as the supporters of Ahava. Some of the EDL members who did not make it clear that they were from the EDL, and so people who made out that they were simply supporting Ahava were welcome. EDL members and supporters were and are not welcome among most good Zionists.
    That said however hateful EDL are, they are not as bad as those who back movements committed to the genocide of Jews, as Hamas are.

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