December 19, 2009

BBC rumbled

Spot the difference between the BBC post I blogged below and the story that now appears at the same url.

Here's the original:
Jewish man jeered at SOAS university debate

Page last updated at 21:28 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009
Footage has emerged of a man being told he is "not welcome" after revealing his Jewish name at a School of Oriental and African Studies debate on Palestine.

The film shows Jonathan Hoffman ask why Soas university allowed a man condemned as an anti-Semite by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHR) to talk.

Upon revealing his name there are boos and shouts of "Jewish!" Anti-racism campaigners called it "chilling".

A spokesman for the London university said nobody broke hate speech rules.

The event, entitled The Case for Sanctions and Boycott [of the nation of Israel] was organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies' [Soas] Palestinian Society.

They invited South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku to speak.

The SAHR has condemned Mr Masuku for "hate speech", saying his comments "are of an extreme nature that imply the Jewish community are to be despised, scorned and ridiculed".

The overpowering racist jeering as displayed by some audience members at the event is stark and chilling

Raheem Kassam, Student Rights

The film, posted on YouTube, shows Mr Hoffman ask: "Why does the University and College Union (UCU) invite somebody who practises hate speech?"

Once boos have subsided the chairman of the debate, Tom Hickey, of the UCU, directs the speakers to "ignore" the question.

Mr Hoffman has described himself as "cross" after the "anti-Semitic" meeting.

The name Hoffman is of German-Jewish origin.

Raheem Kassam, of student anti-racism campaigners Student Rights, said: "The overpowering racist jeering as displayed by some audience members at the event is a stark and chilling revelation of what can happen when extremism is allowed to take root in universities.

"This man was first shouted down, then ignored by the event chair and panellists.

"Why? From what we hear shouted when he is speaking, because he is, 'Jewish', and 'not welcome here'."

'No law breach'

A Soas University spokesman said: "Soas has strict guidelines against hate speech and incitement to violence at public events.

"Event chairs are authorised to stop proceedings if any speaker or audience member breaks the law or engages in speech or behaviour that violates that policy."

He added: "From what is shown in the clip in question, that appears not to have been the case at this event."

The spokesman refused to say whether the university condoned the appearance of Mr Masuku.

Mr Hoffman and the university's Palestinian Society were unavailable for comment.

Mr Masuku categorically denies accusations of racism.

The incident follows recent rows about the appearance of controversial Islamist speakers at both Queen Mary, University of London, and University College London.

And now see the revised version:

Row breaks out over university meeting

A row has broken out over a meeting about Israel at a University of London college that one man described as "anti-Semitic".

Jonathan Hoffman, vice-chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, made the claim in a blog relating to a meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

But others have insisted the meeting was fair and there were no anti-Semitic undertones. Other Jewish audience members spoke without being heckled.

Mike Cushman, who was part of the audience, said: "It was an extremely serious and positive meeting.

'Very sensitive'

"The jeering was directed at Jonathan Hoffman because of his individual beliefs, not because of his religion.

"It is worth noting many of the audience were of Jewish origin."

Also in the audience was Naomi Wimborne Idressi. She said: "I am a Jew and I am very sensitive about anti-Semitism. There was no anti-Semitism at the meeting.

"It was a meeting which was fervent about human rights. There was a lot of learned discussion."

Mr Hoffman had criticised the appearance of South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku, who has been condemned for hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission.

In a blog, he described the event as an "anti-Semitic meeting" and wrote: "There were many anti-Semitic statements about Israel as an apartheid state."

After viewing the footage of the meeting, which has been published on the internet, Raheem Kassam, of campaigners Student Rights, said the response to his question constituted racist jeering.

'Strict guidelines'

But Ms Wimborne Idressi said he was booed because he is a high-profile Zionist, well known for controversial views on the Palestinian territories.

A Soas University spokesman said: "Soas has strict guidelines against hate speech and incitement to violence at public events.

"Event chairs are authorised to stop proceedings if any speaker or audience member breaks the law or engages in speech or behaviour that violates that policy.

"From what is shown in the clip in question, that appears not to have been the case at this event."

Ok, they're still trying it on but the changes to the piece beg the question of how the original piece got on to the beeb site in the first place.

Hat-tip to BRICUP for posting the original.

UPDATE 00:01 20/12/2009 - I had an email from that Raheem Kassam saying that he is no longer a member of the Conservative Party nor of the exec of the Conservative Future thingy. I now gather from a comment by Jonathan Hoffman at Harry's Place that Kassam was the originator of the allegation that Hoffman was abused specifically for being "Jewish" or "Jew-ish" whatever that latter means.

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