Sunday, 24 June 2012

Jonathan Hoffman pickets Miriam Margolyes at the Arts Depot

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 - - 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.


Mrs Angry said...

I absolutely disagree: whatever the rights and wrongs of the argument, his tactics are unacceptable and rely on shouting the loudest, rather than debate. It is completely impossible to argue rationally with him and his followers. Look at some of the comments on the original blog. Nazis? For objecting to settlements in occupied territories?
Hoffman and his tedious behaviour is an embarrassment to the very causes he claims to support. It's not democracy in action, but something rather darker, in my view.

jonathan hoffman said...

This is nonsense, we debated with many people outside the Arts Depot.

I called the man who assaulted me a Nazi because of his behaviour. We did not even discuss the settlements.

"Something rather darker"? What on earth do you mean?

Please explain why you agree with Margolyes' view that Israeli actors should be barred from appearing in London.

Mrs Angry said...

Mr Hoffman, this is a perfect example of what I mean - where have I said that I agree with Margoyles' views? I do not know enough about her views to support or oppose them, and unlike you I therefore do not immediately form a kneejerk opinion on what she believes or does.

What I object to is your tactic of physically pursuing people and relentlessly yelling nonsense at them without stopping to debate, in a calm and rational manner, the issues themselves.

The way in which you behave reflects badly on the causes you espouse. To use the term 'Nazi' in this context is inappropriate and devalues the sheer horror of everything they stood for: the vile persecution and mass murder of Jews, gypsies, gays and disabled people - and an irrational hatred a violent opposition of democratic debate, and a bullying of anyone who held views which diverged from their own.

jonathan hoffman said...

No - It is YOU who is not 'stopping to debate' - by ignoring what Margolyes has said and failing to criticise her advocacy of a boycott of Israeli actors. Far from 'yelling nonsense' our fliers spelled out what Margolyes has said. To accuse us of 'yelling nonsense' is an ad hominem accusation with no basis of fact. (And how would you know? - You were not there).

The word 'Nazi' is perfectly appropriate for someone who tried to threaten my right of free speech by snatching and tearing up my fliers. The police made him apologise to me and indicated to me that I could press charges but I chose not to.

I have no intention whatsoever of taking lessons from YOU as regards what the Nazis stood for.

Mrs Angry said...

There is a difference, Mr Hoffman, between the right to freedom of speech, and the abuse of freedom of speech. You may not see what you do as in any way aggressive,confrontational or unnecessarily hostile, but it is reasonable for others to form that opinion and to react accordingly.

To call someone who is angered by your picketing a 'Nazi' trivialises the real persecution and suffering of the victims of genocide.

You may not want to take lessons from me on what the Nazis stood for: tough, because clearly you need to. If my father's generation had not put their lives at risk in order to prevent the evils of Nazi ideology reaching this country, both you and I would not be here now to express our differing opinions.

To compare a man with a leaflet objecting to your provocative activities to someone who took part in the genocide of six millions Jews, and a million or more Roma gypsies, is deeply offensive to me, and I suspect, to many others.

jonathan hoffman said...

Don't try and take the moral high ground - it transparently will not work. The man who assaulted me also told me “You bring it on yourselves because you do not mix with others”. That is antisemitism of the vilest kind and "Nazi" is a perfectly valid description.

But of course you skirt around that just as you skirt around Margolyes' desire to ban Israeli actors. So many issues you refuse to confront: wonder why?

And how about the reference to "something rather darker"? You failed to explain that delightful aside didn't you?

Not so much "Mrs Angry", more "Mrs Evasive".

And by the way why do you not use your real name? Just what are you ashamed of?

Mrs Angry said...

If the man really did say that, and I have only your word for that, it might be construed as anti semitism: that is a separate accusation which you now introduce. Calling him a Nazi and saying it is anti semitism 'of the vilest kind' is patently not true. There are degrees of stupidity, bigotry and racism - and this is your problem - you fail to distinguish between the subtleties of any situation and use the loudest accusations too easily. This degrades the true horror of real systemic racism.

Your support, for example, of Brian Coleman rather than the people who successfully took him to the standards committee for being smeared as anti semites was a grave misjudgement, in my view.

I do not 'hide' behind 'Mrs Angry' - if you want to know my name just google it! As for the 'darker' remark it means that rather than reasoned debate in a democratic process you choose to stand and yell nonsense at people. You may not see that as intimidatory: I think other people might reasonably feel that way. What really shocked me was the film on youtube re the Ahava demo where remarks are made such as 'the queen of renegade jews'. Can you explain this? Can you explain why the EDL attended some of your demos? You may feel embarrassed by this, but it ought to emphasise to you how your motivation can be misinterpreted by the tactics you employ.

Mr Hoffman, I do not doubt that you are acting out of a deep sense of loyalty to Israel, and that is a genuine feeling which you want to put into action. The problem is that you may actually be causing more damage to the causes you support by the way you operate.

jonathan hoffman said...

“ …a separate accusation which you now introduce”

Do try to keep up! I said it two weeks ago -- in my comment on Richard Millett’s blog (cited in the above article) on 24.6.12 at 6.11am.

“Your support, for example, of Brian Coleman rather than the people who successfully took him to the standards committee for being smeared as antisemites”

Why do I keep on having to correct you?

They were not “successful’. Brian Coleman was cleared of the main charge of "bringing the Council into disrepute". He was found to have been disrepectful to two of the complainants but not to the other two. And he is appealing against the verdict.

And let’s remember what one of the complainants (Dr Charlotte Jago) said. She wrote that that criticism of Israel is labelled as “antisemitic”. This is untrue and is itself an antisemitic statement because it suggests that Jews use the charge of ‘antisemitism’ frivolously and mendaciously.

“yell nonsense” – So you regard protesting against an actress who wants Israeli actors boycotted as “nonsense” .. says it all, doesn’t it?

Guess what, the EDL smear...all that shows is your desperation – it was comprehensively debunked here:

“Can you explain why the EDL attended some of your demos?”

I have no idea – ask them.

Meanwhile (like the author of the article above) I shall rejoice that unlike Gaza, N Korea or Iran we live in a country where people are free to demonstrate on the streets even if we do not agree with their views.

But let’s get back to the nub of the issue. All your ducking and diving and smearmongering is just a smokescreen. It;’s a smokescreen to try to deflect the attention of the readers of this blog from your shameful refusal to focus on what Margolyes has said and your failure to criticise her advocacy of a boycott of Israeli actors.

Just what kind of fools do you take them for “Mrs Angry”?

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