We have had our disagreements outside the Israeli Embassy and Ahava over little things like the EDL lending their support to the Zionists and Israel. True we have occasionally exchanged unpleasantries outside Ahava as Michael Shanahan’s lilting tones wind up ‘Hoffie’ as he is affectionately known. True it is that I have on occasion suggested that he might even be autistic, not that I have anything against anyone with this conditon, as my son is autistic.
But never, never in all my years have I known such base ingratitude as the pompously styled ‘International Division’ of the Board of Deputies displayed yesterday. Quite why a British Jewish communal organisation needs an ‘international division’ anyway is or should be a matter of debate. Perhaps they think they are running an empire? Or perhaps they don’t understand that they are supposed to the cheer leaders for Israel, not the other way around.
Nonetheless the decision to suspend Hoffie is nothing less than outrageous. When one thinks that come rain or shine Hoffie is there, doing his best to deter people going into Ahava, with we might suggest quite a bit of success., then we have to see the actions of the Board's Placemen for what it is - abject cowardice. Those who have never fought for anything more than a good seat in a restaurant have the temerity to ‘suspend’ Jonathan (yes we’re on first name terms) for being ‘offensive’.
With the greatest respect to the Boards International Division, if every time Hoffie was offensive he was suspended (from what they don’t say!) then we’d be running out of rope to hang him with (forgive the mixed metaphors!).
As Jonathan says quoting Churchill no less ‘if you made an enemy it shows you stood up for something” and whatever else you can say about Hoffie, no one can deny that he has made more enemies than most of us have had hot dinners. Once again, a man of principle is sacrificed on the altar of someone’s ego.
The plain fact of the matter is that this attack on Jonathan Hoffman is nothing less than anti-Semitic. Hoffie has been singled out, not because he is ‘offensive’ (that was why he was elected in the first place) nor because of the abusive e-mails he sends round (it’s like asking a rotweiller not to bark in the dark) but because he is Jewish, nay more, because he is assertively Jewish, unlike the establishment mouses with whom he has to work.
I should make it plain that as with the previous time the Zionist Establishment conspired to get rid of Hoffie, I won't hesitate to send another letter into the Jewish Chronicle in his defence.
Save Jonathan Hoffman
Statement regarding Board of Deputies International Division yesterday
I have been called today by journalists from both the JC and the JN about what happened at yesterday's International Division of the Board. It seems that someone has breached confidentiality. i therefore consider that I have the right to set the record straight.
I hear from a journalist that I have been suspended for a week. I am horrified and disgusted that the Board sees fit to tell the Press about my suspension before they tell me.
What happened at yesterday’s International Division meeting is the following.
Unrelated to what had gone before (I am not prepared to breach confidentiality further than this) and without justification, the Chair (Paul Edlin) accused me of being offensive to him and others ("some of your exchanges of emails have been very vexating and upsetting"). One Deputy was so incensed at this unsubstantiated and unprompted slur that he walked out in protest. Another Deputy protested in the meeting at this attempt to smear and humiliate me. I then walked out but returned after a couple of minutes. As I entered the room I said to the Chair "one more time and you’ve had it” meaning “abuse me without ground and in public one more time and I will take it further and go public” - at which point I was thrown out by the Chair. Mine was a perfectly justified response to bullying and the abuse of power.
I challenge Edlin to produce the "vexating and upsetting" emails as a comment to this blog, so that people can make their own judgment.
I am getting used to being smeared by some communal leaders. In November 2009 Jerry Lewis accused me in the JC of “damaging both Israel’s case and beyond". (To this day, not a single member of the Board’s Executive has disassociated from this comment!). I take it as a badge of honour that they think I am worth smearing.
Certain communal leaders do not like my dedicated Israel activism, the fact that everything I do is done from a basis of knowledge and thought and the fact that I am not afraid to rock the boat where necessary. So be it. I believe that their response is partly due to the fact that I show up their ineffectiveness: they defend by attacking. As Churchill said "if you made an enemy it shows you stood up for something". My record stands for itself, eg being instrumental in the Bathurst-Norman case. (When as a result of my obtaining and analysing his summing–up in the EDO case in Brighton, the Office for Judicial Complaints censured Judge Bathurst-Norman for anti-Israel bias).
Let others be judged on their record too.
Let's look at the verdict of my effectiveness from the estimable veteran advocate Isi Leibler, formerly of Australia, now of Israel.
More than anyone else, he was responsible for turning around the standing of Israel in Australia.
Leibler wrote in the Jerusalem Post in 2009 lamenting the 'erosion and marginalisation of most Diaspora Zionist organisations, with a few notable exceptions.' I asked him if the UK ZF was one of his exceptions.
I quote Leibler's response with permission: "For many years the UK ZF was low profile and inconsequential. It is only in recent times since you and a few others stood up to the trembling Israelites purporting to lead the Jewish community that it became one of the exceptions I mentioned."