Friday, 16 August 2013

Time for the Barnet Bugle AKA Dan Hope to apologise for anti semitism accusation

Calm down dear, we all make mistakes. We can all get it wrong in the heat of the moment. We can all misread things. Lord knows, I am a dyslexic I do it all the time. This week there has been an almighty spat between Daniel Hope AKA The Barnet Bugle and Mr Ron Cohen who tweets under the name of the Barnet Alliance. Now I have no idea whether these two chaps actually knew who the other was as they exchanged increasingly angry tweets. What I do know is that Mr Hope failed to recognise that Mr Cohen had used quotation marks in a tweet. As a result Mr Hope assumed that Mr Cohen had made a terrible slur on his Jewish ancestry. I have to admit that being a dyslexic, I immediately formed exactly the same conclusion as Mr Hope had. I was rather disgusted and was considering writing a stern rebuke for the Barnet Alliance. I do not tolerate racism or anti semitism in any form. I was highly disturbed to see such an tweet from an organisation that I have much respect for. Mr Hope tweeted a very strong riposte. Mr Cohen then replied pointing out that Mr Hope had deliberately ignored the quotation marks and deliberately misinterpreted the contents of the tweet.

Now on reading the tweet again, I then realised that like Mr Hope, I had misread the tweet and formed the completely wrong conclusion. So I thought I'd leave them to it. I then found that Mr Hope had submitted a formal complaint to the Barnet Alliance for Public Services against Mr Cohen, accusing him of anti semitism.

As a result a whole plethora of emails have circulated this week. As I read them, I have found the whole thing rather ridiculous. I am pretty sure that Mr Hope made exactly the same mistake I made when I saw the original tweet. I think he was outraged that some anonymous person had attacked him. In the context of this his response was 100% correct. Mr Cohen then responded and pointed out that Mr Hope had misread the tweet. Mr Cohen, rather uncharitably in my opinion, suggested Mr Hope had done this deliberately. I would give Mr Hope the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he is dyslexic, maybe he just misread it.

At this point, Mr Hope should have accepted his mistake and maybe suggested that Mr Cohen be a bit more circumspect with his tweeting. I would 100% agree had Mr Hope suggested that Mr Cohens statement could be misinterpreted and even worse, could prove inflammatory if it was misinterpreted.

Sadly Mr Hope chose to dig his heels in. Rather than making an apology for misrepresenting Mr Cohen and a  sensible point about the need to take care with what we tweet, he chose to issue a formal complaint to the Barnet Alliance and in the process, made himself look a tad silly.

Lets recap the situation. Mr Cohen posted a tweet that was open to misinterpretation. Mr Hope misinterpreted it, thinking it to be an anti semitic slur. Mr Cohen clarified the situation. As Mr Hope knows Mr Cohen is both Israeli and Jewish, Mr Hope must surely realise that the tweet was not anti semitic.

So gentlemen, please do the sensible thing. Mr Hope should apologise to Mr Cohen for calling him an anti semite and Mr Cohen should accept that his tweet could be misinterpreted and Mr Hope had not tweeted maliciously. Then we can all move on. I am sure both Mr Cohen and Mr Hope are staunch opponents of anti semitism, so they really should put this to bed.

There is one little postscript, I feel obliged to mention. Councillor Robert Rams piped in with this

Now I am shocked that Councillor Rams should get involved. For those of you who are familiar with the genesis of this blog, before I wrote this blog, I used to blog for the Hendon Times. I posted a blog on their site, urging Barnet Council to take down a Youtube video on their website, filmed at public expense, which contained a blatent anti semitic slur. Did Robert Rams support me in trying to get this horribly offensive video removed? Well actually nope he didn't. In fact various Barnet Tory councillors complained to the Hendon Times that I had "gone over the top" with my accusation that Barnet Council were putting Nazi propoganda on the internet. Robert Rams, at the time, was the press officer for Brian Coleman at the GLA. Phil Crowther, then editor of the Hendon Times had commented many times that Rams was "always on the phone to him complaining about your blog". Now I don't know what was said, but I do know two facts. One is that the Hendon Times sacked me as a blogger and the second is that Robert Rams told another Barnet Councillor that he'd ended my blogging career.  For posterity, I posted a blog about what happened as the second blog on this site - - Councillor Rams has never clarified his role in this affair or expressed his views about my campaign to remove the offensive video.

I reread the blog entry I reference above. I said one thing back in 2008. It was some advice that I think still holds true, especially in the light of the debacle described above.
"If you specifically mention religion or race and there are any negative overtones, you will offend people. This is not political correctness, it is common sense and good manners."
For the record, I think both Mr Hope and Mr Cohen are assets for Barnet. Mr Hope has performed a useful public service videoing council meetings. I disagree with much of what he says, but he is a hard working campaigner for his particular strand of politics and his commitment to open government is commendable. Mr Cohen is also an extremely hard working campaigner and a very decent and compassionate man. His work for the Barnet Alliance is vital. So come on chaps. Bury the hatchet and not in each others heads !

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