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Jonathan Hoffman commandeers and brings to a halt Suarez' talk at SOAS
before feeding a "news story" to the tabloid Daily Mail

Ex Uno, Plures

out of one, many

the smoke and mirrors
of Zionist propagandists'
self-corroboration

October, 2018

What follows is an account of my entanglement with the word “antisemitism”. It is one person’s experience, but it is a microcosm of how British democracy has been held hostage by those six syllables. As with the vast majority of people with similar stories, it is my involvement with human rights in Israel-Palestine that brought me face-to-face with the ugly word.

A decade ago, my interest the British Mandate period in Palestine led me to Britain’s National Archives. Several years’ study of that great institution’s relevant source documents culminated with the October 2016 publication of my book, How terrorism created modern Israel. Arabic and French editions were published in 2018 and 2019. I continue to monitor the National Archives for newly declassified material related to the topic, and continue to request release of such material slated to be locked away for some years.

My first university talk based on this research took place soon after publication, at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). The lecture was intended for students, but two well-known pro-Israel activists, David Collier and Jonathan Hoffman, gatecrashed and commandeered the event. Security was called; but instead of removing the saboteurs, the saboteurs ‘removed’ Security. Amidst screams of ‘antisemitism’, Hoffman feigned assault by a guard, at which point the Security personnel, not wanting to be in the morning’s headlines in a fabricated story of an ‘antisemitic attack’, walked away. The ‘antisemitism’ pandemonium brought the meeting to an untimely close.[1]

The guards ‘escaped’ without harm, except for a rough online video falsely labelled as one of them “assaulting” Hoffman. My own keepsake was an article in the popular tabloid, the Daily Mail, whose headline announced “Israeli Embassy’s fury after anti-Semitic hate speaker gives talk at a top London university.”[2]

The two ringleaders have been active in stopping even top academics like Richard Falk from speaking, and Collier in particular has been in the news regarding the crippling of Jeremy Corbyn on Israel's behalf. Everything from that point on emerges through the smoke and mirrors of the saboteurs' gospel, propagating in myriad guises to create a network of pseudo-corroboration. Across the Atlantic, the two antisemitism merchants would morph into academics and professors, and be trusted and quoted by real academics.

In today’s climate, the charge of antisemitism is its own proof. There is no exorcism that can entirely rid someone of its ghosts. Like the McCarthyism of 1950s United States, being identified as an antisemite is akin to having the plague: you are shunned even by people who don’t believe it, for fear of being contaminated and shunned as well.

Yet ‘antisemitism’ is inherently a more sinister witch hunt than McCarthyism. The word ‘communism’ was exploited by regimes both flaunting and criminalising it; but communism itself is simply a political and economic theory. Antisemitism, in stark contrast, is itself evil.

Since the antisemitism industry is ultimately a weapon in Israel’s war against Palestine, Palestinians and their supporters are in its crosshairs by definition. Fear leads vulnerable students in university Palestine clubs to behave as though they were guilty.

One student group at a major UK university uninvited me with obvious fear when the Daily Mail article was compounded by a swastika that appeared on a dormitory door. ‘Antisemitism’ was waiting for an opportunity to squash the student organisation, and I would give it the excuse.

Another student group, aware of my Daily Mail infamy, first declared that my Israel Apartheid Week talk would go ahead no-matter-what, even if the venue had to be changed. But as the date neared, the organiser was so unnerved by a campus crackdown against voices critical of Israeli crimes that she abruptly broke contact.

The actual scale of destruction is far greater than the paper trail would suggest. There is no way to tally academic events that are never even proposed because of fear. Nor is there record of self-censorship; for example, I cancelled a talk at a struggling human rights organisation out of worry that I might put their already challenged funding in danger.

When the SOAS duo filed a complaint against me with the university, I contacted the administration and offered to face my accusers in their presence. SOAS is accustomed to charges of antisemitism and assured me there was no need; yet the accusers then exploited their own ‘news’ of their own complaints to frighten students from further projects.

Their complaint to the Charity Commission was also dismissed but, here again, simply lodging the complaint enabled them to 'independently corroborate’ it, now with their own headline in the Jewish News: “Charity Commission investigating anti-Semitic Suarez meeting at SOAS”. The Independent uncritically repeated the story.[3]

Their next brainstorm was a Freedom of Information request, a shot-in-the-dark to find ‘dirt’ on me, which I learned about only from the disappointed reference to the outcome on one of their blogs.

Neither disrupter was invited when I spoke at the House of Lords the month after SOAS, but nonetheless Hoffman filed a formal complaint with the HoL about that talk’s ‘antisemitism’, citing a barely intelligible list of alleged falsehoods in my book. His complaint proved spurious and was entirely dismissed three months later (HL Paper 142).[4]

Quakers first held meetings in Jesus Lane in Cambridge in the 1650s. When Cambridge PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign) asked me to give a talk at Jesus Lane Meeting House (the original parts of which date from 1777), I was honoured and marked it down in pen.

On a Friday, six days before that talk, Jesus Lane received a letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the self-appointed representative of what it cynically calls ‘the Jewish Community’, telling them to cancel my talk. The next day, Hoffman called Jesus Lane and “demanded” (his word) that the booking be cancelled, and reinforced this ‘demand’ by email. There was no explanation as to why he and the Board of Deputies waited until the eleventh hour to demand cancellation of a talk that had been publicised for two months, and the short notice made it impossible for Jesus Lane to address the issue through its own internal processes.

As a consequence, the issue was raised at a Meeting for Worship for Business on Sunday. “Under pressure of time and with incomplete information,” as Jesus Lane elders later explained the result, it was decided to err on the side of caution and cancel the booking.

The next morning, a Jewish Chronicle headline announced “Board halt Israel hate author talk”.[5] I was “accused of peddling antisemitic theories on Israel and Judaism,” and “rose to notoriety after an hour-long rant on Jews and Zionism” [SOAS]. Repeating the tabloid lies, the article quoted me as saying that Zionist leaders “encouraged antisemitism in Germany to force Jews to move to Palestine.”

PSC Cambridge found an alternate venue for my talk but kept it confidential to avoid further problems. In a further trick of  invented "evidence" of which Hoffman is fond, he tried to find out the location, and then framed my hosts' refusal to tell him to claim Jews are not allowed. Some Jesus Lane Friends were among the audience, and Jesus Lane Meeting scheduled its own showing of a video of the talk.

Meanwhile, Jesus Lane Local Meeting wrote to the Jewish Chronicle requesting corrections to its misstatements about them. Not only was no response whatsoever received, but the Quakers’ cancellation was seized upon as a self-corroboration prize: "the Quakers" – not even just Jesus Lane, but the Quakers — were now said to be of the same mind as the saboteurs. On social media and on Amazon, Hoffman invoked "the Quakers" to corroborate his own lies. Unable to stop the abuse through direct communication, in September Jesus Lane Friends Meeting’s elders issued a public statement that read in part:

Elders of Jesus Lane Friends Meeting (Quakers) are concerned at the continuing misrepresentation by Jonathan Hoffman and others regarding the decision made by Cambridge Jesus Lane Quaker Meeting to cancel a talk by Tom Suarez in May 2017 ... Friends (Quakers) who have read the book or seen the video recording of Tom’s talk have no reservations about Tom Suarez or his work.

Yet instead of any attempt to respect Jesus Lane's request to stop the falsehoods, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Chronicle responded with even greater fabrications at the next opportunity: Bath.
 

I was scheduled to give a talk at Bath's Royal Literary & Scientific Institution. When BRLSI stood firm against Hoffman's harassing calls to cancel my talk, the outraged Board of Deputies used a new Jewish Chronicle piece to further embellish the inventions about me and about Jesus Lane that it had already refused to correct the year before.[6]

The Board of Deputies feigned outrage that I had been allowed to speak at BRLSI after Jesus Lane Meeting — which it described, oddly, as a “similar institution” — had already “banned” me. The inventions were formidable: BRLSI is not a Quaker institution, Jesus Lane had had already hade clear that it had never "banned" me, and indeed Jesus Lane had made clear that it supported me.

To fix these warts in its story, the Jewish Chronicle named an individual, unknown to me or to Jesus Lane, who in turn cited one Edmund Rack, who died in 1787, thirty-seven years before BRLSI was founded, but who was a Quaker and was involved in forerunner societies. The Jewish Chronicle’s 21st century gatekeeper decided on Rack’s behalf that he, Rack, would have opposed my being allowed to speak at BRLSI (had it existed while he was alive), and Rack was a Quaker, therefore ... it all made sense. Highly unlikely words stuffed into the mouth of a man who died two and a half centuries ago corroborated their story.

But the crowning insult against Jesus Lane was the headline’s invention that the scandal of my speaking had precipitated a “Quakers row”. Jesus Lane immediately wrote to the Jewish Chronicle: Neither the Board of Deputies nor the Jewish Chronicle had any right to allege a non-existent “row” in their name. When no response came, Jesus Lane wrote again. The Jewish Chronicle kept its impenetrable silence.

At that point I turned to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to challenge the Jewish Chronicle’s reporting and its refusal to allow me to respond to its allegations. When the paper was unable to substantiate either the 2017 or 2018 articles, it still stood 100% behind both stories — by changing subjects. The issue was no longer accuracy, nor indeed even my talks, but what the Jewish Chronicle called “the tone and treatment of the story.” For that “tone and treatment” it relied exclusively on a 59-page so-called Report about my book co-authored by, yes, the original two saboteurs who were the Jewish Chronicle’s and the Board of Deputies’ sources in the first place. The Report now gave their allegations the facade of published ‘fact’ in pseudo-intellectual format.[7]

In a final, extraordinary stroke of self-corroboration, the Jewish Chronicle tried to turn falsehoods into truths by arguing that its views are “shared by many Jewish Chronicle readers.” The Jewish Chronicle readership’s sole knowledge of me is via the very "news" that I am contesting; yet the Jewish Chronicle seriously proposed that the fact that these correspond is proof that they are true. The circular corroboration was dizzying.

[2019 update: IPSO ruled against the Jewish Chronicle]

The Collier-Hoffman Report added one new lie to the mix: Holocaust denial. It concluded that I have “disdain ... for the Holocaust and Jewish life in general,” and stated that I question the truth of a survivor of Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who used Jews for sadistical experiments. To be sure, I have never written or spoken about Mengele, nor was he ever a part of my research. In various online media and Twitter, its two authors advertised how my “hatred of Jews runs through the book. Like blood in an animal, the book has no life without it.” Collier’s site included an apparent threat: “We see you. We know what you are.”

Terrorism, like antisemitism, is amorphously defined to serve political need. Certain ethnicities, certain nationalities, commit terrorism; others commit defence. It was thus eminently efficient to enlist PREVENT, the British government’s counter-terrorism initiative, to add another layer of corroboration.

Being neither Arab nor Muslim, my heart did not sink too deeply when I learned that PREVENT had been alerted to me. I was on the train to Portsmouth, where I was to speak in a few hours, when Portsmouth & South Downs PSC informed me that I had been banned from public venues city-wide. Undeterred, my hosts whisked me to the back room of a hotel pub in a neighboring town, along with an audience of people known to them. The quaint hotel made me feel as though I’d stepped back to the 1950s, and we could just as well have been whispering about Marx. But here we were in Britain, trying to discuss British source documents from Britain’s own archives about the British Mandate, closed down by a British institution with British tax money at the orders of individuals acting on behalf of a foreign pariah state.

My sponsors were not intimidated. They demanded to meet with the local PREVENT Coordinator, Charlie Pericleous, and when that meeting was set I returned to Portsmouth to be present. Mr. Pericleous refused to state the evidence against me, refused to reveal who my accusers are, and most egregious of all, then refused to issue any statement clearing my name of suspicion, despite repeated requests from me, from Portsmouth PSC, and from the main PSC organisation.

Nor do we know how Portsmouth MP Flick Drummond got involved. The Daily Mail reported that she alerted the police to block me, but when I contacted her she replied that she was concerned not about me, but about “some trouble from people” who were opposed to me — meaning, who?

The Daily Mail took advantage of the ‘news’ about the cancelled talk to condemn, by association, another man that is a magnet for the six-syllable plague: Jeremy Corbyn. I have never met nor had any contact with Mr. Corbyn, but the Daily Mail lined us up with side-by-side mug shots. The headline read: “Corbyn is urged to cut links with Palestine charity after it hosts anti-Semitic speaker...” Their slurs against me corroborated their campaign against Corbyn.[8]

The plague-word now sought corroboration overseas. When three professors at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst learned that I was to speak there, they organised a letter-writing campaign to stop it, accusing me of “supporting ‘identity-based hate’ against Jewish people.” The President stood firm. The talk went ahead.

But in the days following my talk, it was again the propagandists five and a half thousand kilometres to the east, not my talk right in the university, that determined what I had said. The reporter for the 125-year-old Massachusetts Daily Collegian had not attended, but was sufficiently sure of what I’d said to jump to antisemitism right in the headline and byline: “The anti-Semitism of the Suarez talk is not the way to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - Suarez’s rhetoric is a detriment to the Jewish student body on campus.” As proof that UMass is not the first school where I received a “backlash from local Jews”, he cited the SOAS talk, perhaps not even aware of the irony. Rather, he invoked the very fact that I had spoken at SOAS, with its “history of anti-Semitism”, as corroboration. Even when I gave the journalist a link to a video clip from the talk itself, proving that I had said the opposite of what he had reported, nothing changed.[9]

An article in the Amherst Wire used my talk to argue that (as the headline read) “hate does have a home at UMass,” and used alleged verbatim quotes from the talk to prove the point: “Zionists allowed or enabled or directly dealt in creating the Holocaust so they could profit off the Middle Eastern Israeli venture”; and “if we wipe Israel off the map, then the entire region will be at peace...” I was most fortunate, however, that Professor of Communication Sut Jhally, executive director of the Media Education Foundation and an expert in communication, advertising, and propaganda, attended the talk, along with Interlink Books publisher Michel Moushabeck. Professor Jhally had a video of the complete talk and Q&A transcribed, presented it to the Amherst Wire, and asked them to find anything remotely resembling the quotes. The Wire removed the online article, the sole instance in which a paper has shown any responsibility for what it has published about me.[10]

Professor Jhally obtained a copy of the letter that had been confidentially circulated in an attempt to block me. The sole source it cited to support the professors’ case was, yes, the Collier-Hoffman Report. The professors had now invested themselves in the antisemitism pyramid scheme. In a final commentary by a Collegian columnist, Messrs. Collier and Hoffman have suddenly become academics, Collier is now ‘Professor’ Collier, and they, along with the UMass professors who relied upon them, now constituted “a variety of academics” who have “debunked” me.[11]

The Washington Free Beacon, which self-describes as “dedicated to uncovering the stories that the powers that be hope will never see the light of day,” carried the three professors’ statement and the usual Collier-Hoffman slurs, describing me as “dripping with racial hatred against Jews.”[12] Meanwhile, the conservative American political site HotAir declared me to be a “particularly odious speaker” and wondered in its headline: “Is it time for conservatives to ‘shut down’ anti-Israel campus speakers”


There was a recurrent subplot to the ‘antisemitism’ charade that also appeared in new form overseas: my musical life. The original SOAS Daily Mail article was accompanied by an ‘informational’ box entitled “VIOLINIST TURNED ‘HATE SPEAKER’ THOMAS SUAREZ”. Describing my talk as a “rant on Jews and Zionism,” the box included a reference to what the writer apparently (but wrongly) thought was an important employer, the American Symphony Orchestra. It was an odd choice; but to a non-musician searching my history on the internet, the ASO’s name would seem to be of consequence. Whatever the Daily Mail’s intent, there is no benign explanation for why the Daily Collegian embedded ‘American Symphony Orchestra’ as a metatag in the article. That metatag was not inserted to help searches for the article’s actual topic. It was inserted in the hope of harming my career.

Roger Waters has said that musicians are afraid to speak up about Israel and Palestine. If they are merely “afraid” in his musical circles, they are altogether terrified in the classical music world. Among the eager distributors of the original Daily Mail piece was the popular music critic Norman Lebrecht, whose music blog Slipped Disc is widely read in Britain and the US. An avid Zionist, he has used his site to “out” musicians critical of Israel. When he seized on the original tabloid story to “out” me, he prefaced it with a list of every ensemble he could find that I have ever been associated with (including one I never was).[13] It is not hyperbole to state that if I were still in the US relying on the violin to pay the rent, I would have woken up to find life suddenly different.

When I informed Lebrecht of IPSO's judgment against the Jewish Chronicle, he refused to issue a statement on his blog informing his readers that information he had spread about me was found to be false. He agreed only to make a note confined to the original posting (which no one would know to go to), or delete it, neither of which would do anything to undo the damage. 

I never figured out how the plague word got to the mayor of Bronxville, an affluent suburb north of New York City. A long-planned talk I was to give in Bronxville was abruptly cancelled with the influence of an email by Mayor Mary Marvin invoking ‘antisemitism’. I offered to meet with the mayor at her convenience, but she refused, and nor would she agree to sample a video of previous lectures. I do not know Mayor Marvin, but I do not believe that concerns about what Bronxville citizens might hear from my mouth was what worried her.[14]

One particularly effective use of ‘antisemitism’ is to claim that the person is a danger to young people — students. News articles in the Independent, Evening Standard, and Mancunion reported that Jews do not feel safe in school, and all cited me as evidence.[15] Not one of these British papers replied to my attempts to respond. When Haaretz grouped me with a supporter of female genital mutilation and a Salafi preacher, the reporter quickly responded to my email and apologised, but offered no correction. Nor were parents’ fears eased when an article in the Jewish Press invented the grotesque quote, “the only good Jew is a dead Jew”, and attached my name to it.[16]

At other universities I was unaware of trouble. I spoke at Columbia on the fourteenth anniversary of Edward Said’s death — without incident. I spoke at a socially involved restaurant in Washington, DC, whose owner had fended off a barrage of harassing UK phone calls from Hoffman, who threatened to organise a mass demonstration and boycott of his establishment. The owner was all the more happy to have me: Please, fly over, I need the publicity, he laughed back. A troll’s Twitter photo of me at the lectern with a nasty caption was the would-be saboteur's meager spoils.

The cynical exploitation of antisemitism threatens to compromise — has compromised — the democracies of the United Kingdom, mainland European nations, the United States, and Canada. Cutting away all the obfuscation, all the propaganda, all the lies, the antisemitism wars are one thing only: a front in Israel’s war against Palestine, trivialising true racism against Jews. Israel holds Jewish identity hostage in order to continue its racism against the Palestinians. All the lies, all the defamation, serve to protect the Israel state from accountability. What F16s can’t do, ‘antisemitism’ can.


Tom Suárez, October, 2018

______________________

1. The author was among the people directly facing Mr. Hoffman when the security guard passively approached him. Mr. Hoffman yelled “He assaulted me.” The audience laughed; there was no assault. A Youtube video records the audio but does not show the encounter.

2. Rory Tingle, “‘Zionism is a racist fascist cult’: Israeli Embassy’s fury after anti-Semitic hate speaker gives talk at a top London university,” the Daily Mail, 8 November 2016

3. Jonathan Hoffman, “Charity Commission investigating anti-Semitic Suarez meeting at SOAS”, in The Jewish News, 17 February 2017; the “investigation” then copied by the Independent, in Rachel Pellis, “Jewish students told they ‘do not have the right to define anti-Semitism’ at SU meeting,” 27 January 2017.

4. HOUSE OF LORDS, Committee for Privileges and Conduct, 7th Report of Session 2016–17, Ordered to be printed 15 March 2017, Published by the Authority of the House of Lords, HL Paper 142

5. Lee Harpin, “Board halt Israel hate author talk / Leader praises Quakers after they cancel Palestine campaign group event with State of Terror author,” The Jewish Chronicle, 8 May 2017.


6. Ben Weich, “Quakers row as venue is rented out to anti-Zionist,” The Jewish Chronicle, 20 April, 2018

7. David Collier & Jonathan Hoffman, Hate and Errors a report on a modern antisemitic fraud, September 2017

8. Rory Tingle, “Corbyn is urged to cut links with Palestine charity after it hosts anti-Semitic speaker who accuses Jews of exploiting the Holocaust,” the Daily Mail, 29 April 2017

9. Joe Frank “The anti-Semitism of the Suarez talk is not the way to discuss the Israeli-/Palestinian conflict,” The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, 26 September 2017

10. Brian Choquet, “Hillel students say hate does have a home at UMass,” Amherst Wire, 4 October 2017 (author has a screen grab of full deleted article)

11. Isaac Simon, “Understanding commentary, Suarez and others,” The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, 4 October 2017

12. Rachel Frommer, “Anti-Israel Speakers Making Rounds at U.S. College Campuses,” Washington Free Beacon, 27 September 2017.

13. Norman Lebrecht, “A violinist attacks Israel for racism ‘like Nazism’,” Slipped Disc, 9 November 2016

14. Months after the aborted talk, Mayor Marvin changed her story and said that she was against my speaking because neither I, nor my topic, was of any interest for the people of Bronxville. Her pre-talk email proves this explanation, itself bizarre, to be untrue.

15. Evening Standard: Rosamund Urwin, “SOAS students ‘scared to wear the star of David and speak Hebrew’,” 19 January 2017. The Independent: Rachel Pellis, “Jewish students told they ‘do not have the right to define anti-Semitism’ at SU meeting,” 27 January 2017. MancUnion: Lily Sheehan, “Jewish students told they ‘do not have the right’ to define anti-Semitism,” 3 February 2017.

16. Danna Harman, “Calls to Bar Israeli Envoy From Speaking at London University Campus”, in Haartetz, 25 April 2017. The “dead Jew” quote was levelled at me and the Israeli anti-racist Ronnie Barkan, in David Collier, “‘The Only Good Jew is a Dead Jew’ (the Suarez – Barkan threshold),” the Jewish Press, 9 June 2017.