Leading Zionist campaigner Jonathan Hoffman staged a protest at the Arts Depot against actress Miriam Margoyles, for signing a letter criticising the Globe Theatre for inviting an Israeli Theatre company Habima (The National Theatre of Israel) to give two performances of The Merchant of Venice as one of its 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 languages season.
Former Mill Hill Tory council Candidate, Richard Millet reports on the incident in his blog. He also shows a short video clip of a local resident giving Mr Hoffman short shrift for his campaign - http://richardmillett.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/protests-outside-arts-depot-against-anti-israel-actor-miriam-margolyes/ - clearly offended by this attack on a "national treasure". Some of the comments are (to me at least) rather interesting. One commenter is deeply offended that Ms Margolyes boasted of "helping a soldier to Mastibate (sic)". What an easily offended bunch of people read Richards blog.
What I'm going to say next will probably sound like heresy to most of my friends on the liberal left in Barnet. I actually feel a bit sorry for Mr Hoffman. The last time he was in action protesting, I met him and had a chat. He was leading a pro Brian Coleman protest when Brian was done for breaching the standards code. On that occasion he had two other protestors with him. His protest failed and Coleman lost.
On this occasion it seems he only had Richard along for company. It appears that the sell out crowd largley ignored him and it seems they all went in to see the show. As someone who has been to a few protests, there is nothing more disheartening than when no one else turns up and everyone by and large ignores you. I was warned after I spoke to Mr Hoffman at the Coleman hearing, that he was a dangerous and shady individual. I have to say that a bloke standing outside a theatre handing out leaflets which are largely ignored, is in my book no threat to anyone. I always feel quite relieved when we see oddball protests, which we don't really understand. To me it is all part of the fun of living in a democracy. Earlier this week I blogged about how a Russian punk band called Pussy Riot had been jailed for writing an Anti Putin song. The more people that we have on the streets like Mr Hoffman, the less likely we are to see that happen here.
We need people like Mr Hoffman (whether we agree with them or not) to make peaceful protests. It is part of a democracy. We should also not be surprised when people meet such protest with complete apathy, when people think the whole thing is a complete waste of time.
You may wonder what my views are on Miriam Margoyles, her criticisms of Israel and Mr Hoffmans response. As Ms Margolyes is, like Mr Hoffman, Jewish, my view is that I'll leave them to have their argument well alone. They both clearly feel quite passionate about it and totally disagree with each other. The last thing they need is people like myself who are ill informed about the issues to stick their oar in. I'm sure if you have an interest in Israel or Palestinian issues, you will already have made your mind up and this little incident will only reinforce whatever views you already had. Anyway, I'm sure that having offended everyone with my comments here, I'm off to help at the FCHS annual Garden Fete. Have a pleasant Sunday.