I recently wrote a blog that attracted considerable attention. As you can see in the comments section, three of those who responded to the piece were the Rabbi from your synagogue, a member of your board (and the Yachad chairman), and one of those who complained (an academic who conducted a survey for Yachad).
As I now understand the situation better, I would like to register my horror at the synagogues denial of a platform to the Zionist group ‘Im Tirtzu’ and I felt compelled to contact the synagogue directly. As is always my method, I do so openly.
Yachad are a tiny group of radical activists with a small and disinterested following. What they do, as all fringe movements do, is pretend they are much bigger than they are. That they somehow represent a ‘silent majority’. If you check their activity on social media, and the lack of response to it, you soon realise they are an astroturf group. They don’t engage in public political actions because nobody would show up. They do what they did here. Get three people to write a letter and pretend they speak for a mob.
This astroturf group have made at least two anti-Zionist actions in the past weeks. The first was to call on the UK government to pressure the Israeli government over Susiya. As they do this, they join hands with BDS, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Islamic Human Rights groups and so on.
The second was to make an open call to no-platform their political adversaries, Im Tirtzu. They embarked on a delegitimisation campaign that included distortions and half-truths. A deliberate and open attack on freedom of speech and a silencing of the Zionist voice.
What I recommend you do at this stage (if you haven’t already) is read the open response to the recent criticism by Im Tirtzu themselves. This is a single quote:
“The unfortunate reality is that the article’s (in the Jewish News) agenda was very much in line with the thought police of radical organizations like the NIF that slander anyone who dares call out their nefarious anti-Israel activity.”
Having now read the explanations by both the chairman of Yachad and the academic who clearly identifies with Yachad’s ideology, it seems they wish to embroil everyone in red herring arguments that avoid the central issue. Which remains this:
A synagogue here in the UK ‘no-platformed’ a large and influential Zionist group from Israel because a handful of Yachad activists performed a targeted political assassination.
That Yachad operate a policy that denies a platform to their opponents is a non-issue. We know from experience the way that BDS type actions operate. Small groups of radical ‘thought police’ walk around pretending they speak for everyone, citing some ‘higher ethical purpose’ and then deciding for the majority that whatever Israeli group is coming here, should be boycotted. The motions pass because the opposition isn’t strong enough.
In other words, I expect nothing less from Yachad. What concerns me is your capitulation. How did you let a BDS style action work in your synagogue?
So if possible I would like to have these questions addressed:
1. How many people actually complained. Were there any complaints not aligned with the tiny, fringe, noisy, activist group Yachad?
2. How was the decision to refuse to give a platform taken?
3. Will the same calculations be made for Yachad themselves? Yachad are far more controversial here than Im Tirtzu are in Israel. If we ban groups when they are accused of being controversial, should Yachad also be denied a platform?
4. You just ‘no-platformed’ a Zionist group that has a substantial presence in Israel. Did you double-check the information you were given? Who spoke on Im Tirtzu’s behalf during the process?
I look forward to your response
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