By Jonathan Hoffman
August 4, 2011
The Jewish News editorial last week (about the murders in Norway) contained the following:
“Breivik had claimed links with the far-right English Defence League. These are (the) same people who march proudly with Israeli flags and who joined the anti-boycott picket outside the Ahava shop in Covent Garden. Those who stood with the EDL or who didn’t tell them to leave should now bow their heads in shame.”
Needless to say, this was the height of ignorant and lazy sanctimonious journalism .... but this has not stopped the Israel haters pouncing on it ...
For the record and yet again, the facts are these. I lead the Ahava pro-Israel counter demo and I confirm that people did "ask the EDL to leave." The police were also asked to provide a separate enclosure for the EDL.
The only people who should "bow their heads in shame" are the Editors of the Jewish News whose only coverage of the Ahava counter-demo is to malign those of us who have turned out week in, week out, for eighteen months. And not a single Jewish News Editor has ever stood with us to support Israel.
Also for the record: An edited version of this letter was published in the JC on 22 October 2010.
Every two weeks for over six months, a group of dedicated activists, under my leadership, has been countering the attempt to close down the Ahava shop in London's Covent Garden. We are there primarily to give out fliers to passers-by, to counter the libels in the haters' leaflets. We show up come rain or shine. We would welcome more people from the community: a dedicated group of Christian supporters from Wales regularly manages to come. (On 20/21 November there is a 'Buycott' weekend with 10% discount, all welcome).
Not only do we give up our time, we are also subjected to a barrage of ignorant abuse from the hard Left boycotters. Most galling of all, Ahava itself has frequently intimated that it is us who cause the disruption to the shop's trade, rather than the boycotters. (The absurdity of this allegation can be seen from the fact that the worst disruptions - the occupations of the shop - have occurred on non-demonstration days!).
Throughout this period you have given us zero coverage. You mentioned us in the paper last Friday, in the editorial (rightly) denouncing the EDL. I acknowledge that you called us "admirable", but you got your facts badly wrong.
First, this is not a ZF-organised demonstration. The ZF does not organise events on Shabbat. I organise it.
Second your suggestion that the ZF has not spoken out against the EDL is completely wrong, as you would have found out by using something called "Google" (have you heard of it?) or even by picking up the phone. In The Guardian on 17th August I am on record as asking the police for a separate pen for the handful of EDL supporters who have started to turn up to oppose the hard Left haters. My JC blog on 16 August records the interview I did with The Guardian. It says "...there was some crossover between the BNP and the EDL and that the EDL sometimes intimidated Muslims and that both these are reprehensible."
Unlike many, I do not just pontificate about the far Right from my armchair: I do something. Witness my activism against Irving and Griffin when they were invited to the Oxford Union Society in 2007.
In the UK we have the freedom to protest. Do you suggest that Israel activists should run away when the EDL shows up? Our malevolent critics (many of whom are hardline Communists) can always relocate to Gaza or Tehran, where the authorities decide who can demonstrate on the streets. Why have they not done so?
NB I am not entering into any debate below the line, because there is nothing to debate