The Curious Case of the Dog that didn’t Bark in the Night or
Why the CST Dissociates Itself from Hoffman’s Complaint of ‘anti-Semitism’
It is, as Sherlock Holmes said in the Hound of the Baskervilles, a case of the dog that didn’t bark at night. Clearly that is the conclusion that Gardener has drawn when dissociating himself from the complaint of Jonathan Hoffman, the loopy co-chair of the Zionist Federation, that he was the victim of anti-semitic abuse.
Readers might recall that back on December 4th Hoffman decided to go along to a rally at the School of Oriental & African Studies organised by UCU, the Universities and Colleges Union. There were two speakers. Ronny Kassrills, an ex-Government Minister from South Africa and himself Jewish and Bongani Masuku from the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Hoffman came to the meeting to allege that Bongani was, well in case you haven’t guessed it, ‘anti-semitic’. Hoffman was, for his pains, heckled though unlike the treatment of anti-Zionists wasn’t physically manhandled or threatened.
It was only two weeks later when Raheem Kassam of the Conservative Student Rights group made public allegations that the heckling of Hoffman had been anti-semitic and that the specific words ‘Jewish’ and ‘Jew’ had been shouted at him, that Hoffman suddenly realised that he had been the victim of an anti-semitic attack! You might think that if someone had been the victim of anti-semitic abuse then they might be aware of it! Clearly Hoffman wasn’t, as he has himself admitted, not least on his own blog of 13 December 2009, 9 days after the alleged incident, where there was no mention of anything anti-semitic being shouted at him. Apparently, and you can read Hoffman’s comments on this blog, he hadn’t heard anything anti-semitic because he’d been shouting so loudly himself!
The BBC picked this up and naturally ran with Kassam’s comments but unfortunately for them and Hoffman there was a video tape of the meeting. And surprise, surprise, it was impossible to discern any shout of ‘Jew’ ‘Jewish’ etc. In other words, this was another faked and made up incident of ‘anti-semitism’.
However Jonathan Hoffman is like a dog with a bone. Once he’s got his teeth into something it’s difficult to persuade him to let go, even when its his own friends that he’s taking a bite out of. That’s why we love him so much, since he simply isn’t aware of when his foot is firmly lodged in his mouth.
The Jewish Chronicle of 23rd December 2009 therefore reported Mr Hoffman as saying that he had reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police’s hate crime unit and the Community Security Trust.
And sure enough, Mark Gardener was ready with a quote.
‘CST spokesman Mark Gardner said: “Mr Hoffman merely repeated what the South African Human Rights Commission had said about Bongani Masuku’s alleged incitement of antisemitism. For daring to raise this he was jeered with outright hatred.’
“The UCU’s attitude to antisemitism is disgusting, and those who collaborate with it should be ashamed of themselves.”
That then is quite clear. UCU’s attitude to anti-semitism is disgusting. Clearly what he is referring to is the ‘anti-semitic’ jeering of said Hoffman at a UCU meeting. The only problem was that this incident had not occured and, more to the point, it could be proven that the incident had not occurred. A bit of a dilemma, given that the CST has been accused of distorting its statistics to ‘prove’ an upsurge of anti-semitism.
Given such confusion and always willing to lend a hand to help clarify matters, I thought it best to write to Mark to seek clarification of these matters. On Wednesday 10th March I therefore asked him:
‘You clearly categorised what took place at the meeting as the anti-Semitic abuse of Jonathan Hoffman, despite the evidence of others to the contrary….
I am therefore writing to you to ask whether or not you have recorded what took place at SOAS on 4th December 2009 as an anti-Semitic incident? In view of the forthright nature of your comments above, I will take a refusal to answer or a non-committal response as confirmation that the incident above was indeed recorded as an anti-Semitic incident.’
A simple question you might think. Well after nearly 2 weeks and no reply, I decided to follow up the non-response with another letter of Sunday 21st February:
‘You will recall how, on 4th December 2009, Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation, was apparently the subject of anti-semitic abuse, although he didn’t realise that this had occurred until two weeks later. Nonetheless, in the Jewish Chronicle of 23.12.09. you made it clear that Mr Gardener had been a victim of anti-Semitism… In view of the widespread belief that CST conflates statistics of anti-semitic incidents and anti-Zionism, can you confirm whether or not this alleged incident was recorded as an anti-semitic incident?’
Now Mark Gardener isn’t paid a prince’s ransom for nothing. If there is one thing he is good at it’s avoiding answering difficult questions. And none come more difficult! Unfortunately, as the late Marquess of Salisbury noted, apropos Iain McLeod, Gardener is too clever by half. Because in attempting to answer my question he is caught on the horns of a dilemma. To record an incident as anti-semitic, when it was no such thing, would prove that the CST is all the things its critics say it is. To say it wasn’t anti-semitic is effectively to call Jonathan Hoffman a liar.
Instead Gardener makes a spurious distinction between ‘hatred’ and ‘anti-semitic hatred’, which, as I responded, was a distinction without a difference. The entire context of this ‘jeering’ was that it was anti-semitic. Gardener wrote to inform me that:
‘You have claimed that I personally told the Jewish Chronicle that Mr Jonathan Hoffman had suffered an antisemitic incident. I did not. I said that he was “jeered with outright hatred”. If I had meant to describe it as “antisemitic hatred” then I would have done so. ‘ (my emphasis)
In fact I hadn’t made any such claim. I merely quoted what Gardener had been reported as saying to the Jewish Chronicle of 23.12.09. and stated that if the words were true, and he hasn’t denied them in a letter, then he had himself categorised the incident as anti-semitic. But of course that is then.
Apparently people jeered Hoffman with hatred but not anti-semitic hatred! And for once he is categorical about what he said to the Jewish Chronicle: ‘I did not’. The obvious question would be how Gardener could possibly know what people who heckled Hoffman were feeling at the time. Maybe they just disagreed with him. Either way Gardener himself has denied saying in the Jewish Chronicle that Hoffman was heckled with ‘anti-semitic hatred’ because, as he says, if that had been the case ‘then I would have done so.’
So what we have here is Mark Gardener saying that Jonathan Hoffman has made up the whole incident and the CST, despite his having reported it to them, are not going to record it!
As it happens, and unbeknown to me, Mike Cushman of Bricup, also wrote to Mark Gardener. Great minds think alike!
On 9th March 2010 Mike wrote asking Gardener a simple question:
‘I (w)as wondering whether you could tell me if the heckling of Jonathan Hoffman at the SOAS meeting on 4 December was recorded as anti-Semitic incident in your log?’
But of course it was anything but simple. So Gardener was forced to turn to that old excuse of last resort, confidentiality. After a day to consult, Gardener wrote back on 10th March that:
‘I am not able to answer your question, as CST’s primary duty is to respect the confidentiality of those who contact us.’
Now this is somewhat strange because whatever his other sins, Jonathan Hoffman is not shy when it comes to publicity. Publicity is his lifesblood. ‘Breach of confidentiality’ are about the only words that are unlikely to pass Hoffman’s lips. After all, it was he who announced to the world, via the Jewish Chronicle of 23.12.09., that he was making a complaint to the CST. Whatever else was involved here, it was not a question of confidentiality.
Unsurprisingly Mike Cushman therefore wrote back, the same day, that ‘I find your answer surprising. I am not, nor would I, requesting any names just the CST’s judgement on an incident tha is already in the public domain and thus confidentiality issues do not arise.’ It is a long-standing legal maxim that you cannot breach the privacy of someone who has already made their affairs public anyway. Likewise confidentiality doesn’t arise if the matter is already in the public domain, as the Spycatcher case demonstrated.
However Gardener wasn’t so concerned about confidentiality as trying not to have to give an answer. Jonathan Hoffman, with his cavalier attitude to ‘anti-semitism’ had landed him in it. So Gardener e-mailed back on 10th March even more lamely that
‘I infer from your question that you want to know if Mr Hoffman reported this to CST as an antisemitic incident; and whether or not CST subsequently recorded it as one. So, you are requesting names and you are requesting a breach of confidentiality.’
But of course the inference that Gardener draws is untrue, because Hoffman had already stated that he has reported it! The only question is whether the CST have recorded it or not. It is difficult to understand how this can be a breach of confidentiality and of course it’s no such thing. Gardener simply doesn’t wish to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ because either answer will cause the CST problems. The full correspondence is below .