Pro-Israel activists convicted for 'wholly unacceptable behaviour' during demonstration

Court sees footage of Jonathan Hoffman and Damon Lenszner 'hector' and try to 'drown out' pro-Palestinian activists


Two Zionist activists have been fined and hit with restraining orders after being convicted of “aggressive, bullying behaviour” during an anti-Israel demonstration.

Both Jonathan Hoffman and Damon Lenszner pleaded guilty to offences under the Public Order Act at Hendon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The court saw footage of the pair “hector” and attempt to “drown out” pro-Palestinian activists as they protested on Carnaby Street in central London on October 6, 2018.

Hoffman, 66, and Lenszner, 59, surrounded Sandra Watfa as she spoke into a microphone, chanting “Terrorist supporters off our streets”.

Lenszner, an unemployed former accountant and recruitment specialist, also punched demonstrator Emmet Haverty-Stacke, although he did not cause any injury.



He admitted to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress, and was handed a curfew between 9pm and 6am for eight weeks.

He was ordered to wear an electronic tag, and will pay £150 in court costs and a £135 victim surcharge.

Hoffman, a pensioner, was convicted of disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, and was ordered to pay a £100 fine, £150 in court costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

District Judge Nigel Dean also imposed a restraining order on both offenders, prohibiting them from contacting Ms Watfa or Mr Haverty-Stacke, or from coming within 10 metres of them.

Charges of common assault against both defendants were dismissed, as was one charge of assault by beating against Lenszner.

Passing sentence, District Judge Dean said: “I accept both of you had a legitimate right to counter-demonstrate… But it is fair to describe each of your behaviours depicted in the recording as being wholly unacceptable.

“It was intimidating behaviour, which ran the risk of provoking a reaction, either from a passer-by, or from those you were counter-demonstrating against.

“Both of you encroached on the personal space of those demonstrators… You engaged in hectoring behaviour. You were trying to drown out what was being said by them.

“It was counter-productive. Anyone who saw what you did were likely to be alienated by your behaviour.”

The protest, held by pro-Palestinian group In Minds, took place in front of the Puma store in Soho, over the sports manufacturer’s sponsorship of the Israeli national football team.

Daniel Berke, representing Lenszner, and John Dye, representing Hoffman, argued for the men’s “good character”, pointing to the fact that neither man had any previous convictions.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Ms Watfa said the incident left her feeling “silenced and intimidated”, claiming that she has not attended another protest since.

Hoffman is a former vice-president of the Zionist Federation, while Lenszner has sat on the board of Plymouth Argyle Football Club.

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