ZF and EDL: Letter in Guardian

This is a guest post from Jonathan Hoffman
In today’s “Guardian” there is a letter from the usual suspects about the ZF’s successful, peaceful rally on Wednesday night in support of Israel, which despite being arranged at very short notice was attended by over 700 people. I was there and met people from many religions (and none) and from many nations.
The letter alleges that supporters of the English Defence League were at the event. Before the event the ZF issued a Press Release – which was also sent to its mailing-list – informing them that the EDL might be there and disassociating the ZF from the EDL and saying that they would be allocated their own area.
The usual suspects are using the time-honoured tactic of “smear by association”. The ZF exists to inform the public about Israel and to support Israel. Like the attendees at the rally, our speakers come from all religions and none and the same applies to the audiences. As the signatories know full well, it is not within our mandate to be involved in UK communal issues.
We are proud that we operate in a country with a tradition of free speech. A public rally is precisely that – public – and no organisation can vet the affiliations of the attendees. If the signatories would rather live in a country where free speech is absent and where the State controls who can and who cannot demonstrate on the streets, they are free to do so but they should be aware that such countries also deny rights to Jews, gays and women – to mention just a few such minorities.
Jonathan Hoffman (Co-Vice Chair, Zionist Federation, UK and Ireland)
In the interest of speed, this initial response has not gone through our normal signoff process but we will be responding formally. Thank you to CiFWatch for agreeing to publish this response.
UPDATE: The signatories of the letter all have history. Mike Cushman wants to boycott Israeli academics and saw nothing wrong with inviting Bongani Matsuku to speak in the UK. Matsuku is a South African trade unionist who the South African Human Rights Commission has declared guilty of inciting hate towards Jews. Fink and Greenstein interrupted and ruined a broadcast Jerusalem Quartet Concert last month. Selma James is a Marxist feminist who chaired a meeting with Hajo Meyer – who regularly crosses the line into antisemitic speech. Miriam Margolyes appeared in the antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children”. Alexei Sayle made a video unsuccessfully imploring Leonard Cohen not to perform in Israel. Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi regularly attends events which demonise Israel and has a well-placed contact at the BBC to whom she feeds vitriolic copy about Israel.

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