kidding no-one, MrGriffin
Prominent community figures assess the fallout from the BNP leader’s bid for respectability on BBC Question Time last week
specific damage to the community, “we have to ensure that every Jewish person goes out to vote for his or her political preference to dilute their impact”.
Professor Colin Shindler of London University’s School of African and Oriental Studies predicted that the BNP, as an elected party, would take part in more television programmes. He felt that the community “should ally itself with other ethnic minorities including rational Muslim leaders like Ed Husain. The Israel-Palestine conflict will always produce sharply divergent views between Muslims and Jews. However, the common enemy for those who oppose both antisemitism and Islamophobia is the BNP.”
Former Nightingale chair Ros Preston observed that “any publicity for a far right/fascist body must be a potential danger t o the community, in the light of our past history”. She believed that the community “should be ready to support publicly the major political parties and individuals who are prepared to tackle the BNP head-on, by exposing its true agenda which of course includes anti-Jewish propaganda, but not by painting ourselves as the only target”.
Board of Deputies’ president Vivian Wineman said the appearance on Question Time had “highlighted, both for the community and beyond, the very real and present danger of the BNP.
“The Jewish community must not be complacent. We need to redouble our efforts to work with others to counter this threat, working in co-operation with other faith groups, trade unions, political allies to promote a zero tolerance of racism and bigotry, from wherever it comes,” he added.
Conservative Friends of Israel director Stuart Polak believed that the programme exposed Nick Griffin’s shortcomings and “ t hat perhaps this has been a wake-up call for the major parties. But I don’t believe there will be a rise in its membership out of this programme.”
Community Security Trust director of communications Mark Gardner said: “No other community has shown such commitment over decades of fighting the fascists. It is now t i me f or ot her communities and parties to match our efforts. The CST has worked tirelessly against the BNP for many years and briefed politicians from each of the parties during the recent conference season. “It is most likely that the BNP will grow stronger after its appearance — and we and our communal partners will intensify our efforts accordingly.”
THE JEWISH teenager who challenged Nick Griffin on last week’s BBC Question Time has spoken about why it was so important to confront the BNP leader.
JFS pupil Joel Weiner, 17, demanded answers from Mr Griffin about his history of Holocaust denial.
Joel’s grandfather fled Germany for Palestine the day before war broke out, but many of his family were lost; some, he believes, in Auschwitz.
Mr Griffin responded: “I cannot explain why I used to say those things. I cannot tell you any more than why I’ve changed my mind or the extent that I’ve changed it, because European law prevents me.”
Joel, the son of London Masorti rabbi Chaim Weiner, said this week: “If there is one message people should take home, it is that this guy is a Holocaustdenier and he shouldn’t be given any votes.
“I was pleased because he was stumped by the question. He came over as a racist bigot. People saw him for what he is.”
Joel was called by the BBC the day before the programme and asked to be in the audience after he had applied for tickets more than a year ago, and recorded his ethnicity as Jewish.
On the day itself, he had to push his way through hundreds of protesters, answer security questions and show his passport before being given access to the studios.
He said: “It was a very intense atmosphere in the audience. There was a real sense of camaraderie and everyone was together against Nick Griffin, apart from a small group of his BNP supporters.”
Joel, who has many family members who have made aliyah, said that he was “appalled” by Mr Griffin’s comments on Islam, homosexuality and his suggestion that the BNP supports Israel.
He said: “I thought what Nick Griffin said about Israel was disgusting. I don’t want my culture and my people to be associated with him. I’m annoyed with myself because I should have told him that in my comment.”
He also spoke out against comments made after the programme that Mr Griffin had been “bullied” by the other panellists.
Joel, a member of Finchley United and a Bnei Akiva madrich, said: “He was bullied only as much as he bullies other people. They gave him what was due. Bullying is what his party is about.”
Joel, who hopes to read history at Cambridge, added: “I felt that what I said had to be said. There was a possibility that if I hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been spoken about. I t was important that a kippah-wearing Jew was there to
Nick Griffin during his controversial Question Time debut
Determined: Joel Weiner