Once Again the BBC Published a Zionist Press Release first and Asked Questions afterwards
(But this time they were found out by a video!)
On Friday 4th December a public meeting was held at the School of Oriental & African Studies in London with a number of speakers including Ronni Kassrills a Jewish ex-ANC-Cabinet Minister in South Africa and Bongani Masuku of the Congress of South African Trade Unions. All told, 2 of the 4 speakers on the platform, to say nothing of the audience were Jewish (Prof. Stephen Rose was the other one). Not bad for an 'anti-semitic' meeting!!
The meeting was organised by Bricup, the main organisation campaigning for an academic boycott. About 300 were in the audience. After about 4½ minutes into the question and answer session, a well-known figure, Jonathan Hoffman, got up to speak. The thrust of his comments were that Bongani Masuku was a racist, guilty of ‘hate speech’ (i.e. had offended white liberals in South Africa and white reactionaries outside it).
Now Jonathan Hoffman is Co-Chair of the Zionist Federation. He is well known for his disruptive interventions at anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian meetings. He has been bitterly criticised even by the Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, no slouch when it comes to supporting Israel, Jerry Lewis, for what are seen as his counter-productive tactics.
I even had to write a letter to the Jewish Chronicle trying to call a halt to this campaign against Hoffman since I had genuine fears that this valuable asset to the Palestinian cause was overplaying his hand. See ‘Defend Jonathan Hoffman.’
So when Hoffman began his speech, there was instant name recognition and lots of boos and hisses, until the Chair Tom Hickey quietened people down. It is worth nothing that Hoffman wasn’t attacked physically, he wasn’t insulted and was allowed to make his point.
Contrast this with 2 hecklers at the apartheid Jewish National Fund meeting on Sunday 13th December 2009. The report in the Jewish Chronicle ‘Screaming protesters disrupt JNF meeting’ of 17.12.09. described how ‘CST security men removed him from the hall, but as Mr Prosor resumed his speech a second man began shouting anti-Israel remarks. He was punched and kicked by a delegate as he was pulled from the hall.’
Maybe Hoffman would have something to complain about if he had been kicked and punched, but no, there was no such Zionist behaviour. Note that the Zionist Communist Security Trust, which uses false allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ to obtain funds to pay its lavish salaries, including a 5 figure sum for its Director Mark Gardener, has not had anything to say about this untoward violence!
But the BBC decided to run with a Zionist press release and the puerile outpourings of Raheem Kassam of the Tory Student Rights Conservative Future, laughably described as an ‘anti-racist’ activist. Their allegations were that the word ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewish’ were shouted as soon as Hoffman began speaking. The problem is that this is a lie. The Jewish Chronicle even posts the Youtube video on its site. Yet I have listened 5 times when Hoffman begins to speak and although there is shouting and disagreement there is no shout of 'Jewish' that I can hear. It is simply a figment of the imagination.
Indeed Hoffman himself has admitted on his blog that he heard no such shout. And not only that, but in his first report of 13 December on his blog on the Jewish Chronicle site, he makes no mention whatsoever of any anti-Semitic shout of 'Jew'. It is only when Tory Rights member Raheem Kassam 'hears' the shout of Jewish that Jonathan Hoffman even becomes aware he was subject to anti-Semitic abuse!! [Thanks to Raheem Kassam of Student Rights for noticing the jeer of "Jew...ish!", 19.12.09.]
In short this is a deliberate post-hoc lie thought up by a rancid young Tory and adopted by Hoffman and co. Unfortunately for them, the video that is posted proves the complete opposite! Hoffman alleges that the 'Jewish' chant was directly after he asked why he was being interrupted. In fact the only discernible comment is 'do you really want to know?' as well as a mixture of boos. In other words, this is entirely made up.
It is absolutely clear that the antagonism towards Hoffman is entirely because of his reputation and his absurd attack on a respect anti-racist who represents one of the main organisations which helped overthrow Apartheid, at a time when Israel was up to its neck in supplying White South Africa with arms and military training.
The first story that the BBC posted was thus:
Raheem Kassam, Student Rights
‘Footage has emerged of a man being told he is "not welcome" after revealing his Jewish name at a School of Oriental and African Studies debate on Palestine.
The film shows Jonathan Hoffman ask why Soas university allowed a man condemned as an anti-Semite by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHR) to talk.
Upon revealing his name there are boos and shouts of "Jewish!" Anti-racism campaigners called it "chilling".
A spokesman for the London university said nobody broke hate speech rules.
The event, entitled The Case for Sanctions and Boycott [of the nation of Israel] was organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies' [Soas] Palestinian Society.
They invited South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku to speak.
The SAHR has condemned Mr Masuku for "hate speech", saying his comments "are of an extreme nature that imply the Jewish community are to be despised, scorned and ridiculed".
The overpowering racist jeering as displayed by some audience members at the event is stark and chilling
The film, posted on YouTube, shows Mr Hoffman ask: "Why does the University and College Union (UCU) invite somebody who practises hate speech?"
Once boos have subsided the chairman of the debate, Tom Hickey, of the UCU, directs the speakers to "ignore" the question.
Mr Hoffman has described himself as "cross" after the "anti-Semitic" meeting.
The name Hoffman is of German-Jewish origin.
Raheem Kassam, of student anti-racism campaigners Student Rights, said:
"The overpowering racist jeering as displayed by some audience members at the event is a stark and chilling revelation of what can happen when extremism is allowed to take root in universities.
"This man was first shouted down, then ignored by the event chair and panellists.
"Why? From what we hear shouted when he is speaking, because he is, 'Jewish', and 'not welcome here'."
'No law breach'
A Soas University spokesman said: "Soas has strict guidelines against hate speech and incitement to violence at public events.
"Event chairs are authorised to stop proceedings if any speaker or audience member breaks the law or engages in speech or behaviour that violates that policy."
He added: "From what is shown in the clip in question, that appears not to have been the case at this event."
The spokesman refused to say whether the university condoned the appearance of Mr Masuku.
Mr Hoffman and the university's Palestinian Society were unavailable for comment.
Mr Masuku categorically denies accusations of racism.
The incident follows recent rows about the appearance of controversial Islamist speakers at both Queen Mary, University of London, and University College London.’
In fact many of the audience were Jewish, as well as 2 of the speakers. Jewish anti-Zionists don't tolerate anti-Semitism or indeed any form of racism - which is why we oppose Zionism so vehemently. But unlike Hoffman we are also anti-racist. The jeering was on account of Hoffman’s politics not his religious affilations.
Needless to say that the BBC, fresh from a year of pro-Zionist reporting, including its disgraceful decision to openly support Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and refusal to carry the Disaster Emergency Committee's Appeal for Gaza earlier in the year, including the idiot decision of its Trustees to criticise the normally pro-Zionist Jeremy Bowen for having referred to the settlements on the West Bank as illegal, found that it was caught bang to rights. All the allegations above could be disproved by listening to the video where, as I stress, there was no mention even of the word ‘Jewish’. This is not surprising as I have been in the Palestine solidarity movement 30 years and with the exception of Gilad Atzmon and his supporters, who have worked closely with Zionists like Mike Ezra and Paul Bogdanor, I have never experienced anti-Semitism.
If sometimes people are confused about the differences between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism that is because the Zionists do their best to sow such confusion.
Suffice to say that faced with egg on its face, the BBC retreated. It scrubbed the second story and wrote what was a much fairer and less one-sided report, which is below:
A row has broken out over a meeting about Israel at a University of London college that one man described as "anti-Semitic".Of course there is no explanation on the BBC web site or underneath the article as to the fact that it has been changed or indeed why it has been changed. Nonetheless the BBC has backtraced significantly. In a letter to Professor Moshe Machover (a founder of the Socialist Organisation in Israel - Matzpen) the BBC writes:
Jonathan Hoffman, vice-chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, made the claim in a blog relating to a meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
But others have insisted the meeting was fair and there were no anti-Semitic undertones. Other Jewish audience members spoke without being heckled.
Mike Cushman, who was part of the audience, said: "It was an extremely serious and positive meeting.
"The jeering was directed at Jonathan Hoffman because of his individual beliefs, not because of his religion. "It is worth noting many of the audience were of Jewish origin."
Also in the audience was Naomi Wimborne Idressi. She said: "I am a Jew and I am very sensitive about anti-Semitism. There was no anti-Semitism at the meeting. "It was a meeting which was fervent about human rights. There was a lot of learned discussion."
Mr Hoffman had criticised the appearance of South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku, who has been condemned for hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission.
In a blog, he described the event as an "anti-Semitic meeting" and wrote: "There were many anti-Semitic statements about Israel as an apartheid state."
After viewing the footage of the meeting, which has been published on the internet, Raheem Kassam, of campaigners Student Rights, said the response to his question constituted racist jeering.
But Ms Wimborne Idressi said he was booed because he is a high-profile Zionist, well known for controversial views on the Palestinian territories.
A Soas spokesman said: "Soas has strict guidelines against hate speech and incitement to violence at public events. "Event chairs are authorised to stop proceedings if any speaker or audience member breaks the law or engages in speech or behaviour that violates that policy. "From what is shown in the clip in question, that appears not to have been the case at this event."
Dear Mr Machover
Thank you for your feedback to BBC News Online.
The background to the story about which you have complained is that the meeting at SOAS was highlighted to one of our journalists who was sent a video of the "incident", which was also reported on Mr Hoffman's blog.
The journalist contacted the Board of Deputies of British Jews who confirmed that they were aware of what had happened…indeed there had been a report in the Jewish Chronicle.
He also contacted the Zionist Federation and SOAS for comments. The SOAS press office confirmed that they were aware of the allegations of what had happened in the meeting.
The reporter also contact the SOAS Palestine Society, informing them of the accusations and emailing them links to Mr Hoffman's blog and the video. The society told the reporter they could not comment.
After publication it quickly became clear that there was more to what had happened in the meeting than was apparent from the video and Mr Hoffman's allegations. As soon as that became clear the story was amended to reflect the differing views of those who had been at the meeting.
It is regrettable that the original story did not reflect a wider range of views and the journalist concerned has been made well aware of the requirement to do so in the future.
Hugh Berlyn Editor - News and Sport Interactive
This hasn’t, of course, stopped the Jewish Chronicle from repeating the same lies and nonsense in its own report which begins:
‘Jonathan Hoffman, co vice-chair of the Zionist Federation, was told he was "not welcome" after revealing his Jewish name at a pro-Palestinian meeting at SOAS.’
Actually strictly speaking this is quite correct! The audience did make it known that he was not welcome after revealing his name, which could be taken for a Jewish name (if there is such a thing). But it wasn’t because of his name that he was jeered, so if you are a semantic lawyer, you might indeed have a case!
Zionist Community Security Organisation Is Concerned Though!
The Jewish Chronicle reports this week [Zionist hit by abuse at SOAS debate] that Hoffman 'has reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police’s hate crime unit and the Community Security Trust..'
And the Zionist Community Security Trust, a 'charity' which receives millions of pounds a year as a result of scaremongering appeals about 'anti-Semitism', stated in the Jewish Chronicle of 23rd December 2009 that:
'CST spokesman Mark Gardner said: “Mr Hoffman merely repeated what the South African Human Rights Commission had said about Bongani Masuku’s alleged incitement of antisemitism. For daring to raise this he was jeered with outright hatred.
“The UCU’s attitude to antisemitism is disgusting, and those who collaborate with it should be ashamed of themselves.”So Gardner, who wasn't at the meeting, is happy to accept that there was an anti-Semitic incident even though the 'victim' was himself not aware of such until over 2 weeks after the alleged anti-semitism. But then the CST has to pay its spokesperson Mark Gardener and several others a 5 figure salary. Hence its eagerness to highlight anything which is 'anti-Semitic' when it's to do with Israel. That is why we say its statistics are meaningless, contrived and self-serving.