A Note on the Tommy Robinson “Manchester Jewish Community” Meeting Controversy

From the Jewish Telegraph:

REPORTS of a secret meeting between the founder of the extreme right-wing English Defence League and Manchester’s Jewish community are false.

Rumours appeared online and in a London Jewish newspaper claiming that Jewish leaders met Tommy Robinson in north Manchester.

The story was repeated by national newspapers.

The “London Jewish newspaper” that the Jewish Telegraph for some reason feels unable to name is the Jewish Chronicle, which had written that

Members of Manchester’s Jewish community held a secret meeting with Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the far-right English Defence League.

The controversial meeting, which took place in Prestwich last week, was billed as a charity fundraiser, but also saw Mr Robinson deliver a speech outlining his extreme views on Islam.

The Jewish Telegraph trailed its follow-up article as “THE TRUTH from @TRobinsonNewEra about THAT Jewish community meeting”. According to the paper, the meeting was “organised by a Jewish person who does not represent a communal organisation”. Further, “Jewish people were there, but they were businessmen in a private capacity”; it was a “public meeting” with security; and attendees had “mixed views” about Robinson.

However, if this is “THE TRUTH from @TRobinsonNewEra”, he gave a different impression in earlier Tweets, as noted by the Independent newspaper. On 29 June he mocked an attack on him from Jewish Voice by saying that he was “about to deliver a speech to a Jewish crowd in a hotel”, and on 3 July he said that he had given a talk “to Manchester Jewish community” – obviously implying a representative group.

Neither the Jewish Chronicle nor the Independent in fact refer to “Jewish leaders” as having been in attendance; and for a “public” meeting, the Jewish Telegraph remains oddly coy about providing details other than that it took place at Fairways Lodge Hotel – supposedly on 28 June, although Robinson’s Tweet in which he’s “about to deliver a speech” is from a day later.

The Jewish Chronicle article included condemnatory comments about the meeting from North West Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement, along with an admonishment from the Board of Deputies (“Tommy Robinson’s record of anti-Muslim provocation means that he could never be a partner of a respectable or mainstream Jewish organisation”). The paper’s editor, Stephen Pollard, also followed up with an op-ed in which he accuses Robinson of wanting to “lure” Jews as a cover for a racist motive – it will be interesting to see if Robinson and his camera-crew will now be descending on Pollard’s office or home with a demand for an explanation, as he has happened to others.

Some of these criticisms are also noted by the Jewish Telegraph, along with praise for Robinson from “Israel-based Dr Brian Thomas, a businessman and blogger who holds a science degree”, and who hosted Robinson in Israel last year. Thomas has also attacked the Jewish Chronicle coverage of Robinson on Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch website, and reproduced a statement in response to Pollard written by Jasmine Lennard, an actress and reality TV star who recently hosted Robinson at her home along with his employer Ezra Levant.

The meeting also inspired a commentary piece in Arutz Sheva, praising Robinson and condemning “comfortable Jewish establishment leaders… engaged in a campaign of appeasement directed towards the invading Muslim multitude at the expense of one who would save them from it.” The author also takes at face value a Tweet from Robinson from March, in which he stated “I’m Jewish mate” – this was actually a joke in response to an abusive query about why he had been seen supporting Tottenham Hotspur at a football match.

One Response

  1. Are we maybe being guilty of fake news here? Is the English Defence League extreme? Do they have a military wing, for example? No.

    And what about their views of mainstream Sunni Islam, which represents about 8/10ths of Mohammedanism. Shia Moslems are clear that most of the suicide bombers come from that branch of Islam. Can we stop being ‘politically correct’ and start making a positive contribution to the debate about Islam?

    Many respected mainstream leaders of the West – Sir Winston Churchill and Bertrand Russell for example – are clear that Islam itself, not Islamism, represents a very grave threat to Western freedom, stability and civilization.

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