Green Left’s guest urges support for the English Defence League

When Green Left were looking for a bona fide ‘Jewish perspective’ on anti-Zionism at their 2008 autumn conference fringe, one of the people they platformed was Tony Greenstein.

This week, Tony Greenstein in conversation with a Palestine Solidarity Campaign chair urged rabbis to support the English Defence League and suggested rigging a poll so that he could then falsely paint Jews as racists.

Bob From Brockley comments:

“The Jewish Chronicle, true to form, has a poll: should rabbis be involved in the EDL? Anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein urges people to vote yes, to show they are as bad as each other. This, it seems to me, is an act of unbelievable and unforgiveable stupidity, because it will fuel the idea that Jews in general hate Muslims in general, and thus feed the kind of venomous politics represented by the [E]DL. As with his earlier dishonesty about the Zionist Federation, Tony is playing a dangerous game here, with very serious consequences which he ought to be mindful of. Update: since I wrote this, HP picked up the story. Lippy [commenting on the HP post at 15 October 2010, 2:03 pm] sums up why this is so wrong: “Rabbis should support EDL – and rabbis are Jewish, not Zionist. So, the opposition to that would be antisemitic, not anti-Zionist. The more Jews join the EDL, the more that justifies Muslim backlash against Jews. (Not Zionists.) The more Jews join the EDL, the easier it is for EDL to say they are not racist, Nazi etc. So, the more other people (be they white, Hindu, whatever) will join the EDL. So, Greenstein’s deceit is a recruiting sergeant for EDL and incites more antisemitism and more Islamophobia. And this from an “anti-racist”???” Later, the JC themselves noticed, and eventually suspended the poll.”

The overwhelming majority of respondents had voted against support for the EDL.

Tony Greenstein’s approach is a dangerous current in pro-Palestine campaigning today, and I continue to wonder what it will take to persuade the Green Party to dissociate from the euphemistically named Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

(I will never understand the power anti-Zionism has to addle the wits of this many people.)

Update: no place on our platforms.

Forgot to mention the role of PSC in this.

Will TUC look kindly on their new partner of choice stirring antisemitism and Islamophobia?


30 thoughts on “Green Left’s guest urges support for the English Defence League

  1. Pingback: Roll Around The Blogs And News. « ModernityBlog

  2. blanco

    This is disgusting. Do the likes of Derek Wall and Joseph Healy have no shame? They are cuddling up to anti-semitic racists. They should be expelled from the Green Party.

    1. Mira Vogel Post author

      Blanco, the GP allows for some platform sharing, on the condition that the platform-sharing members publicly oppose those aspects of the politics which contravene our own. But there is no such public opposition. That doesn’t mean they love the racism of the racists, but it does amount to a contravention of our terms of platform sharing.

  3. Tony Greenstein

    The addled wits are all your own.

    Orthodox Rabbis today are at one in their vehement racism. To call it Der Sturmer style racism wouldn’t be going too far. Or maybe Bob from Boring Bromley hasn’t heard about HaTorat Hamelech (The King’s Torah) from Rabbi Yaacov Yosef, a Lubavitch Rabbi, which argues for killing non-Jews, including babies since they’ll only grow up to be Jew haters.

    Or the latest from former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadiah Josef, which argues that non-Jews only exist to serve Jews.

    If these were solitary voices in the wind then fine, but they have been backed up by wall to wall support from the Haim Druckmans, Dov Lior’s and all the other bigoted and racist rabbis that Israel has spawned.

    And the reaction from British rabbis? Silence.

    Just as there is silence of the Zionist Federation’s dalliance with the English Defence League which Bob tries to pretend isn’t happening. The same non-existent phenomenon which caused Jonathan Hoffman to call a photo of him and Roberta Moore ‘photoshopped’ and which led to him giving a grovelling apology to the photographer concerned.

    In other words the photo was genuine and Hoffman had been caught with his racist pants down.

    So yes, I think it’s more than appropriate for people to vote for honesty and open working between racist rabbis and just plain vanilla racists.

    What Bob in his suburban stupidity never asks is why assorted fascists, neo-Nazis and racists just love Israel and Zionism. Why does Robert Ziles of the Waffen SS loving Latvian Freedom & Fatherland Party or Michal Kaminiski of the Polish Justice & Order Party, who opposed an apology for the massacre and burning alive of hundreds of Jews at Jedwabne in 1941, so love Israel?

    It’s no wonder that the racist anti-Islamic site Harry’s Place is your first port of call.

  4. Bob

    Minor twist in the tail, as TG has replied to the HP post 19 October 2010, 12:23 am “I am in favour of political honesty. Orthodox Rabbis are the most racist and revanchist section of Jewish society and it is only right that they should work with their natural partners.” He then goes on to justify that with examples of rabbis who have advocated, you know, killing Christian kids and that sort of thing. (Note: the JC said nothing about ”Orthodox” rabbis…)

    See more at where his whole comment is preserved for posterity.

  5. Deborah Fink

    How typical of Greens engage, to use this to try and smear Green Left and PSC, who had nothing to do with it.

    The fact that Mira Vogel is against PSC being affiliated to the Green Party suggests that she does not want justice for Palestinians. But then we know that- her fierce opposition to BDS indicates support for the status quo.

    One might question what she is doing in the Green Party (I’ve never seen her at anything)…but then I think we know the answer to that question…..

    1. Bob

      I am glad, Deborah, that you obviously see Tony’s actions as unacceptable, if you wish to make clear that the Green Left and PSC are “smeared” by identification with them.

    2. Mira Vogel Post author

      “…(I’ve never seen her at anything)… ”

      This blog is a valid contribution. It is voluntary, unremunerated, and necessary. I work full time. I have other interests. When I’m no longer required to spend my political life drawing attention to antisemitic travesties in organisations which can’t or won’t do it themselves, is when said organisations get more of my time for their core business.

      If supporting the status quo means not standing by why pro-Palestinian activists slip deeper into antisemitic ways of thinking and campaigning, then yes I’m for that. But that’s the limit of it. We’re single issue – stop making this bigger than it is.

  6. Bob

    Tony’s comment appeared after I wrote mine, so only just saw it.

    Orthodox Rabbis today are at one in their vehement racism.

    Even if this were true, it would be beside the point. The JC poll asked about “rabbis”, not “Orthodox rabbis”, not “Israeli rabbis”, not “Haredi rabbis”.

    But it isn’t true. For every Lubavitcher, there are dozens of decent, non-racist rabbis. Huge numbers of them work on a day to day basis with Muslim imams in various interfaith and joint social action initiatives. They care deeply about anti-Muslim racism; they often speak publicly on it. For every instance of wacky racism you name, anyone who spends any time in the Jewish or Muslim world could name dozens of instances of exactly the opposite. Presumably the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace doesn’t exist. Presumably the Woolf Institute does not exist. Presumably an Orthodox rabbi did not speak at the Sukkah built by the East London Mosque this month. Presumably Rabbis Menahem Frohman and Aharon Lichtenstein did not visit Beit Fajjar to show solidarity for the victims of anti-Muslim racism. Presumably Jewish Voice for Peace does not have a Rabbinical Council.

    Or maybe Bob from Boring Bromley hasn’t heard about HaTorat Hamelech (The King’s Torah) from Rabbi Yaacov Yosef, a Lubavitch Rabbi, which argues for killing non-Jews, including babies since they’ll only grow up to be Jew haters.

    To be honest, I’d vaguely heard of HaTorat Hamelech but didn’t really know anything about it. A few minutes on the internet and I wondered what you’d heard, as I was more confused than ever. Rabbi Yaacov Yosef was not a Lubavitch Rabbi and not the author of HaTorat Hamelech. Yaakov Yosef, Ovadia’ son, is not Lubavitch either, not the author of the HaTorat Hamelech. Torat HaMelech, as far as I can tell, is by Rabbis Yitzchak Shapira and Yossi Elitzur, although Yaakov Yosef seems to have endorsed it. It is very far from representing any kind of consensual view from the Israeli haredim. According to the Forward, “A coalition of religious Zionist groups, the “Twelfth of Heshvan,”—– named after the Hebrew date of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, has asked Israel’s Supreme Court to order Mazuz to confiscate the books and arrest its authors.”
    Read more: The authors were arrested, and the case is still being pursued by the Israeli judiciary. These people are representative of Orthodox Jews like Anjem Choudhary is representative of British Muslims.

    But what these rabbis, or any rabbis, have to do with what Jonathan Hoffman did or did not do in relation to the EDL is a complete red herring. Rabbis are rabbis; Hoffman is Hoffman. Getting people to vote in a poll in a way that makes it appear as if religious British Jews support the EDL is a completely insane thing to do. Fair enough, in a moment of silliness, such as we all have on the internet, you might say this – but to then fail to reflect on that and instead try and justify it because of some Haredi rabbi in Israel is total BS.

  7. Bob

    Sorry to take up more space, but the Robert Ziles etc point is also completely beside the point. The fact that far right Jew-haters claim to love Israel (and the fact that some Tory Zionists get taken in by this) is relevant to… what? There was an argument about this among British Zionists. Some, like Stephen Pollard and the Conservative Friends of Israel, fell for it, whereas others, equally mainstream, like David Cesarani, various Liberal and Reform rabbis, Louise Ellman, the political editor of the JC and, for that matter, Engage, were completely critical of this dalliance.

    You claim authority to make all your comparisons between Israeli policy and Auschwitz by virtue of being of Jewish origin and having a track record of anti-fascism, attested to by your Redwatch profile. And yet you trade in these to picture all British Jews as Nazis, to feed any prejudices British Muslims might have about Jews, and effectively to legitimate the EDL. You should be ashamed.

    Oh and one other thing, “suburban stupidity” fair enough, but surely the thing about Bromley is a little below the belt?

    P.S. Tony likes getting into long, involved arguments about these sorts, which I often enjoy, but I have lots of family issues to deal with this week, which I will give my attention to instead. Apologies in advance.

  8. Deborah Fink

    Actually Bob, I wasn’t saying that Tony’s actions were unacceptable, I was just saying that they had nothing to do with Green left or PSC. I said,’Attempt to smear’, not ‘smear’ on it’s own, because you lot find it unacceptable. It was a stupid poll and deserved to be treated with contempt.

    Mira, I’m not going into details here but just to say that of course, I find it nonsense when you talk about pro-Palestinian activists slipping into anti-Semitic ways of thinking. You just mean criticism of Israel and actions taken to put pressure on Israel, which you don’t like. As I said, you prefer to defend the status quo by doing nothing yourself and attacking those who are trying to do something. By seeing anti-Semitism in everything, all you are doing is crying wolf so that no one will listen anymore. So thanks for making life for Jews more potentially dangerous.

    As regards your Green party membership, what sort of member of attacks it and its leader in public, posts internal emails and blabs to the Guardian (if that was you…)

    1. Mira Vogel Post author

      “I find it nonsense when you talk about pro-Palestinian activists slipping into anti-Semitic ways of thinking”

      That is a discreditable opinion, according to the Green Party Regional Committe. You are in a tiny minority of people who thinks everything is alright. You persist in thinking everything is alright, in denial of the facts.

      And there is nothing I have done which could justify your charge that I am an Israel partisan.

      1. Deborah Fink

        That’s interesting, nothing came up when i clicked on the link…..Maybe it was another document that you posted that you were not supposed to.

        You must be living on another planet if you think I’m a tiny minority, or you are being dishonest…I suspect the latter as Raphael would have told you the truth (you wouldn’t have the info first hand as you don’t take part in anything to do with the party).
        As a member who goes to meetings and takes part in discussions, I’ve found overwhelming support for my stance. It is Greens engage which is the tiny minority. You know that.

        I’ve never said you’re an Israel partisan (typical Engage misrepresentation), but you are an infiltrator to the party.

        1. Mira Vogel Post author

          You’ve gone far off the point now, Deborah. Don’t you think you should answer Bob’s question – do you think it is acceptable to call for people to call for British rabbis to work with the EDL?

          Personally I’m pretty relaxed about you attacking me – but in general I don’t think it’s acceptable. Not only does it reflects really badly, it also discourages the people you’d presumably want to convince from getting into a discussion with you.

  9. Mira Vogel Post author

    Decided not to allow Mark Elf’s comment due to a combination of verbosity, aggression and insufficient effort, placing an undue burden of fact-checking on us. You can find more of the same on his blog.

    (Mark, you need to take this more seriously and less recreationally.)

  10. Deborah Fink

    Mira, I don’t see why I should answer Bob’s question if you won’t allow Mark’s post. I saw his post and it does not fit your description. Furthermore, I think it is completely out of order to comment on his comment without actually posting it! People have only got your word for it and are not being given the chance to make up their own minds about it. It actually amounts to libel.

  11. modernityblog

    It is a good question, does any *other* Green think

    “it is acceptable to call for people to call for British rabbis to work with the EDL? “

    1. Mira Vogel Post author

      OK then, so what do we have in this thread?

      Tony Greenstein authoritatively references his own blog to tell us that all orthodox rabbis are the same, and that we should listen to him because he considers himself a gold plated anti-racist.

      Bob points out his errors, why it was wrong of Tony Greenstein to vote yes to cooperating with the EDL, and points out that actual anti-racists do not do these things.

      Deborah Fink disowns Tony Greenstein from Green Left and the PSC and then becomes diverted by name calling and constructing a case for my expulsion from the Green Party. After allowing some illustrative stuff, I as moderator begin to delete this.

      Before turning nasty and me deciding to delete him, Mark Elf writes: “Bob – I don’t think either Tony Greenstein or anyone else urged rabbis to work with EDL and no rabbi is going to be swayed by anything Tony Greenstein urges anyway. Tony said that if they are honest, orthodox rabbis will work openly with the EDL. As it happens, I don’t think that’s a fair comment by Tony and I think he read more into the poll question than was there but you are shifting this from Tony urging openness on the part of those he sees as racist rabbis to Tony promoting the EDL. All Tony seems to have done here is take the piss out of a poll that needed the piss taking out of it anyway.”

      For reasons Bob sets out, arguing that a poll about Jewish support for the EDL is a good candidate for satire and wrecking is completely twisted. Interesting to be told by anti-Zionists that Tony Greenstein isn’t to be taken seriously.

      Deborah Fink tells us that there are loadsa people who think like her on Israel, but in fact there aren’t.

      Outstanding question: who thinks it’s alright for people to encourage rabbis to work with the EDL?


      That’s settled then.

      1. Mira Vogel Post author

        Just deleted another insulting, hostile comment from Deborah.

        One thing worth retrieving from it:

        “I did not say that there were a lot of Jews who think like me on Israel (although there probably are), I said there are a lot of people who think like me in the Green party, after you had claimed that mine was a minority opinion.”

        The democratically important thing to demonstrate here is actual proportions, as in that JPR report for example. I think that anti-Zionist arguments should be acknowledged (unless they’re also antisemitic and aggressive against those who oppose them, in which case I think they need to be marginalised).

        But there are no grounds for arguing that Deborah’s stance has ‘overwhelming support’ in the Green Party, since only a tiny proportion of members participate. We’ve seen this in the University and College Union’s boycott campaign – activists voting for academic boycott while rank and file members in branches overwhelmingly vote against it.

        Activist-dominated organisations or groups within organisations require checks and balances, as well as fostering an active, interested membership, to ensure that they are democratic.

        Deborah and others, I have no more time to filter your contributions. I’m finding them pretty nasty, so I suggest you pursue your grievance on your own blog – we have pingbacks here.

        P.S. Our comments policy.

        1. Alan Howe

          Yes, this is one of the things I find quite annoying. In principle, GP policy is decided by members at conference. In practice it is set by a handful of activists who have the time and resources to attend – it is quite expensive even without travel and accommodation.

          There is though, apparently, a clause in the constitution that we have to move to a delegate system once membership reaches a certain level, which we are nearing.

          Perhaps then, the monotonous voices of people like Deborah Fink will be muted?

    1. Tony Greenstein

      Fr. Edwards asks does Deborah Fink and me realise who the EDL are cozying up to.

      Yes I certainly do.

      It happens every other Saturday when the Zionist Federation counter-demonstrators outside Ahava who support the selling of stolen produce from the West bank stand alongside the EDL!

      I urge no one to support the EDL. It was the JC poll which asked whether or not rabbis should be involved with the EDL or words. I am simply in favour of political honesty and orthodox rabbis, who are the ones with power in the Jewish community and who have great power in Israel, are those who believe killing a non-Jew is not a sin.

      The question is whether or not Mira, Bob etc. have anything to say about this and other forms of racism in Israel. I guess they don’t!

      1. Mira Vogel Post author

        It is simply a gross and reckless – and obvious – falsehood to tell us that about orthodox rabbis. Equal to what they say about muslim religious leaders in the edl.

  12. Isca Stieglitz

    Re: Orthodox Rabbis. Can’t speak for all, of course and in particular the likes of Kach or Neturei Karta, but racist indoctrination, incitement to murder or pleasure in the killing of non-jewish people has never been on the radar for any of the orthodox Rabbis I’ve worked with. In fact, everyone I’ve known debates very clearly about the rights and wrongs of Torah interpretation.

    Being an ‘open to persuasion atheist’, it makes no odds to me and our Progressive Liberal stance, (sounds like a pop band!), certainly would not support EDL.

    Re: AHAVA Demo. You might not agree with my position, but do read my observations on one of the demos. The police put the EDL pen next to the Pro-Ahava pen and they kept coming over to have a go at the PSC pen on the other side.

    The EDL pen has been requested, by the Pro-Ahava group, to be put the other side of the PSC pen. The police have yet to do it.

    Interestingly, there was a ‘rainbow’ flag flown in the EDL pen, but I would not say that all gay folk support or hang out with EDL, because of that.

    I also noticed some people deliberately trying to take photographs from a perspective which looks like, at first glance, that Pro-Ahava and EDL were ‘together’. I ended up talking with one of them to tell them to stop coming over, I got a torrent of abuse from her and my photo taken by a PSC person whilst doing it. I suppose I’m bezzie mates with EDL now based.


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