The videographer caught making antisemitic comments while filming a Jewish wedding has said he regrets what he did but feels unfairly attacked because his conversation was “private”.
Anthony Aurelius, 42, accidently recorded himself and an assistant as they made derogatory remarks about guests at the wedding of Claudia and Stan Gocman last year.
Mr Aurelius then sent video files to the couple when they requested the full, unedited footage nine months after it was filmed at a central London venue. He had forgotten to delete the offending footage.
Among the comments he was heard to say were “I don’t blame Hitler”, “Jewish women are cows" and that they "think they're better than everyone because they're from Israel".
After the JC published it exclusively on Thursday morning, the story went viral and was published by many national newspapers, attracting a flood of comments on the Web.
But Mr Aurelius has now told us he believes that the couple spoke out because they wanted to punish him.
“They want to attack me. It’s very upsetting, I’m sorry that they’re doing this. I’ve said I’m sorry and have refunded them,” he said.
“What’s worse, what they’ve done - or a quiet conversation between me and my partner?”
He said the offending comments were “definitely not done out of malice or ignorance. I never meant to hurt anyone. In retrospect, it was just an idle stupid conversation with my partner. It was private.
“I said it highlighted a character flaw in me. All I can do is pray to God and speak honestly and truthfully.”
The experience, he said, has put him off filming weddings for life. His company, Raising Awareness Productions, ceased trading in August.
“I don’t do wedding videos anymore,” said Mr Aurelius, who has filmed “hundreds” of weddings over the past five years, including several Jewish ones.
“The company went under because it was a difficult time. I’m in financial difficulty now. There’s not a lot of money in it, especially with a low budget. It’s very difficult.
“It’s not worth doing a job unless you’re making people happy. I’ve got to find something that is fulfilling and controllable.”
In one clip, Mr Aurelius is heard complaining that the couple spent more on photography than they did on video. He still stands by that: “A Jewish wedding is too difficult to film on one camera because of the way the chuppah is set.
‘You have to film the couple, the family, the friends and the rabbi, who is always moving left and right. It’s really challenging.
“I tried to explain it to [Claudia], I said ‘you need a different package. If you want to film a live football match, you need at least five or six cameras’. You can’t do cheap packages with Jewish weddings. I told her that many times. It’s too much pressure on a low budget with a Jewish wedding.
“The Israeli dancing is incredibly difficult to film. I just don’t know what their expectations were.”
Mr Aurelius, who is not married, said he is remorseful about the comments made about Jews: “I’ve thought about it in depth. They’ve definitely got a stronger manner about them, but they’re still human beings, so they’re no different to all of us.
“Their culture is stronger, because of what happened in the war. They’re stronger as a result of the punishment they went through – they’ve gone on to grow up because of it.”
Mr Aurelius, a former vegan karate champion, from West Sussex, said his dietary habits over the past six years reflect his kinder persona: “I’m a vegan and that’s really important to me. It’s something I’m good at. I love animals – I grew up with a dog.”
But sitting with a copy of the JC at her home in Edgware on Thursday night, Mrs Gocman, 27, dismissed his apology.
“He was not remorseful - until he got caught out,” said the Ralph Lauren executive and former JFS student. “I don’t think he’s sorry at all, he just wanted to get away with it. But we have the evidence now and everyone has seen him for what it is.”
She believes that Mr Aurelius is still “bitter” about the larger investment in photography over film to capture memories of the 150-guest black-tie celebration at Central Synagogue and 8 Northumberland Avenue.
“If I wanted a Mario Testino to photograph my wedding – that’s my prerogative. He’s still bitter and that’s why it all happened in the first place.”
Since the story appeared in the JC, I’ve had “non-stop calls and messages all day long.
“I’ve been inundated with support from people. One lovely Jewish guy offered to re-edit my wedding film for free. Everyone is completely shocked; firstly because it came from a professional environment; and secondly, because it was a celebratory environment.
“There are some nasty comments online, but I’m not taking it personally because I know there is antisemitism in the world.”
She added: “The one funny thing is that my in-laws have been nagging me to send my wedding photo into the JC – and now I have, which is hilarious.”