Board blasts Is­rael’s ‘mav­er­ick’ de­fender

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BYMARCUSDYSCHAND SI­MON ROCKER

BOARD OF DEPUTIES vice-pres­i­dent Jerry Lewis has launched a sting­ing at­tack on fel­low Board mem­ber Jonathan Hoff­man over his tac­tics when de­fend­ing Is­rael in pub­lic.

Mr Hoff­man, who is also vice-chair of the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion, has been crit­i­cised by War on Want and Amnesty for his vo­cif­er­ous at­tempts to chal­lenge at­tacks on the Jewish state.

Mr Lewis, who over­sees Is­rael ad­vo­cacy at the Board, said: “Given his po­si­tion, Mr Hoff­man should be far more cog­nisant of the ne­ces­sity to act with com­mon sense and not to act uni­lat­er­ally in a way which dam­ages both Is­rael’s case and be­yond.

“I’m painfully aware his tac­tics have been the cause of many com­plaints to the Board, and his be­hav­iour has been less than help­ful.”

It is be­lieved the Board has also ex­pressed its con­cerns to ZF chair­man An­drew Bal­combe. But Mr Hoff­man said Mr Lewis’ com­ments rep­re­sented “the sourest of sour grapes”.

He said: “In 2008 he [Mr Lewis] an­nounced his in­ten­tion to stand as chair­man of the ZF but then with­drew. He stood as vice chair­man and I beat him. He has done noth­ing but bad­mouth the ZF ever since.

“Why has Jerry Lewis not signed my pe­ti­tion to Gor­don Brown about the Gold­stone Re­port, signed by 2,500 in lit­tle over a week? Why has the Board — which con­sti­tu­tion­ally is obliged to ad­vance Is­rael’s stand­ing — been si­lent on the re­port, un­like the ZF?”

Mr Lewis’ at­tack came af­ter Mr Hoff­man’s on­go­ing row with War on Want took a new twist when the anti-poverty char­ity’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John Hi­lary called his com­plaints “wit­less” and “laugh­able”.

Mr Hi­lary said the Char­ity Com­mis­sion should dis­miss “vex­a­tious” com­plaints from Mr Hoff­man, who has also come un­der fire from Amnesty UK, which a c c u s e d h i m o f “im­ma­ture and dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour” at pub­lic events.

Last month the Char­ity Com­mis­sion cleared WoW of wrong­do­ing af­ter the char­ity hosted an event which ac­cused Is­rael of hu­man rights abuses and called for a world­wide boy­cott of the Jewish state.

But the com­mis­sion’s board is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­leged fac­tual in­ac­cu­ra­cies in a sep­a­rate WoW leaflet which dis­cusses Is­rael’s cre­ation and claims Pales­tinian suf­fer­ing is “an ac­knowl­edged prod­uct of Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion”.

At the com­mis­sion’s an­nual pub­lic meet­ing last week, Mr Hoff­man again ques­tioned how the char­ity could pass a pub­lic ben­e­fit test and ac­cused it of “fo­ment­ing ha­tred”.

There­peat­edques­tion­ingsparkedMr Hi­lary’s out­burst and prompted him to ask the Char­ity Commision whether it had a “vex­a­tious com­plaints” pol­icy.

Mr Hoff­man re­sponded: “The no­tion that my com­plaint is vex­a­tious is ut­ter non­sense. The fact the com­mis­sion has agreed to re­open the case proves it is not ‘vex­a­tious’. This is sim­ply John Hi­lary’s way of bul­ly­ing the com­mis­sion.”

Amnesty UK is host­ing an event on Oc­to­ber 28, en­ti­tled Dis­crim­i­na­tory and un­sus­tain­able: Wa­ter and pol­i­tics in Is­rael and the Oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries, at which the main speaker will be Ben White, au­thor of Is­raeli Apartheid: A Begin­ner’s Guide.

He also ap­peared at the WoW event about which Mr Hoff­man com­plained to the com­mis­sion.

Af­ter learn­ing of the Amnesty event, Mr Hoff­man wrote to its or­gan­iser, Kristyan Bene­dict, de­mand­ing a 15-minute sec­tion of the evening to re­spond to Mr White.

Mr Bene­dict re­sponded: “Given your im­ma­ture and dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour, at the last event and pre­vi­ous ones I am aware about, I can see no rea­son to grant you this amaz­ing de­mand.

“If you are will­ing to in­vite peo­ple from the hu­man rights com­mu­nity to any ZF events and give them 15 min­utes to chal­lenge po­si­tions which vil­ify in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights law, then I may re­con­sider.”

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