kid­ding no-one, MrGrif­fin

Prom­i­nent com­mu­nity fig­ures as­sess the fall­out from the BNP leader’s bid for re­spectabil­ity on BBC Ques­tion Time last week

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY ROBYNROSEN

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

say it.”

Ros Pre­ston

Colin Shindler


Stu­art Po­lak

Mark Gard­ner


Nick Grif­fin dur­ing his con­tro­ver­sial Ques­tion Time de­but

Howard Leigh

De­ter­mined: Joel Weiner

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