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War on Want, a.k.a. War on Israel

Pajamas Media readers will be aware of the worrying events that unfolded on June 17, when a London debate on Sharia law between Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion and Anjem Choudary of al-Muhajiroun was terminated. The discussion had to be canceled due to disturbances inside the venue, Conway Hall, when al-Muhajiroun’s “security men” objected to male guests wishing to sit with women. A protracted standoff in Red Lion Square ensued. Giles Enders, chairman of the South Place Ethical Society, which runs Conway Hall, took to the stage and said he was canceling the event, telling the crowd, “I am not prepared to have fundamentalist thugs in our hall preventing people from coming in. We do not condone segregation.”

In July another alarming event unfolded in London that has sinister connotations for the future of free speech in this country and in Western democracies. It revolves around Jonathan Hoffman, who is vice chair of the Zionist Federation; he is a gentle and self-effacing man with whom I appeared on Press (Iranian) TV on June 12 in a debate against Ilan Pappe, Hajo Meyer, and moderator Alan Hart on anti-Semitism and Israel. (During the “debate” moderator Hart bellowed at Hoffman that he would be evicted from the studio if he did not stop spouting Zionist propaganda. It was a viscerally searing broadcast for me; I had told Hart to bring Hoffman along and he ended up being repeatedly bullied until I threatened to walk out of the program if this did not stop.)

Hoffman tried to book a place at Toynbee Hall for the July 12 launch of Ben White’s new book, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide. The book-signing and lecture were sponsored by War on Want, a registered charity. (They are supposed to be politically neutral, right?) To his astonishment Hoffman was told he would not be welcome at the launch and that he would not be allowed entry to Toynbee Hall!

I will pause here and say it was a blessing in disguise that I delayed by a week or so writing up this story. It has now become an international issue because Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, has made it known to the British Charity Commission that he wants War on Want investigated for breach of its guidelines.