Jonathan Hoffman, former vice chair of the Zionist Federation of the UK and Ireland, has been described as ‘one of the Zionist movement’s most notorious thugs’. He is known as ‘one of the most vociferous and frequent’ disruptors of academic and parliamentary meetings at which Palestinian rights are being discussed.
In 2019, a judge convicted Hoffman of ‘disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’ and described his conduct as ‘aggressive’, ‘bullying’ and ‘wholly unacceptable’.
The Jewish group, Jewdas, has observed of Hoffman that:
‘He will have no hesitation about tarring all criticism, as “anti Israel”, and all opponents as either self-hating Jews or anti-semites. Naturally Jonathan declines to accept that the occupation exists, insists that Israel is a full democracy, that all its actions are 100% justifiable and that human rights campaigners are Islamists in disguise’.
However, Hoffman’s pro-Israel activities and Islamophobia go beyond mere words. He was seen in 2017 alongside members of far-right groups, such as Paul Besser (former Head of Intelligence at Britain First), Roberta Moore and Robert de Jong (from the UK branch of the Jewish Defense League, a global far-right terror group). He has also been a member of a Facebook group called Jewish Defense Forces, which includes Besser and Moore.
During a pro-Palestine demonstration in 2018, Hoffman and Damon Lenszner attempted to ‘hector’ and ‘drown out’ protestors by calling them ‘terrorist supporters’, in particular targeting Sandra Watfa, a campaigner on behalf of Palestinian child prisoners. The shocking footage of Hoffman’s and Lenszner’s abusive behaviour can be seen below. Hoffman and Lenszner were charged with assault and public disorder. In 2019, a judge convicted them of ‘disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’ and described their conduct as ‘aggressive’, ‘bullying’ and ‘wholly unacceptable’. Both were fined and given restraining orders.
Jonathan Hoffman and Damon Lenszner Abuse Pro-Palestine Campaigner
Moreover, during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader of the Labour Party, Hoffman organised rolling billboards outside of Parliament reading ‘Holocaust deniers harboured by Labour’ and ‘institutional anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour’. At the height of the debate about anti-Semitism in the Party in 2018, Hoffman campaigned alongside far-right Zionist agitators for the politicised and controversial IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism ‘to be endorsed in full by the party’s national executive’ (read more about how the IHRA definition came into being here).
Since Labour’s defeat at the 2019 general election, Hoffman has turned much of his attention to universities. When an intimidatory online map was produced, purporting to show the location of academics promoting anti-Semitism on campus, Hoffman enthusiastically promoted it.
Hoffman has had Professor David Miller in his sights for some time and has explicitly sought to undermine his scholarship on Islamophobia. In 2011, he attended the parliamentary launch of a Spinwatch report, co-authored by Professor Miller, entitled ‘The Cold War on British Muslims’. After asking a hostile question at the event, he penned an article for The Jewish Chronicle in which he exclaimed, ‘The fact is that there are reasons for British Muslims to be under closer surveillance by the security services than Jews … Namely, the July 2005 bombings’.
More recently, in August 2020, Hoffman wrote a blog post, entitled ‘Bristol Professor “Spits In the Face of Jews”’, claiming that Professor Miller had breached the IHRA definition seven times during a Zoom meeting the previous month.
When the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism published a letter on 4 March 2021, signed by MPs and peers, accusing Professor Miller of ‘inciting hatred of Jewish students’, Hoffman noted that only eight per cent of parliamentarians had signed the letter, bringing it to the attention of leading pro-Israel voices on Twitter. It seems that he also enlisted his own MP, Theresa Villiers, to sign the letter.
Hoffman has supported a campaign for University of Bristol alumni to withhold financial donations in an effort to pressure the university into taking action against Professor Miller, for which he appears to have claimed some success. He has also organised a petition calling for Professor Miller’s dismissal.
We understand that Hoffman has also personally emailed numerous signatories to an open letter from academics in support of Professor Miller, in what we consider to be an organised campaign of intimidation designed to pressure signatories into withdrawing their names.
There appear to be no lengths to which Hoffman will not go in order to defend Israel. In 2020, Hoffman vigorously supported twelve Israeli tourists who allegedly gang raped a British woman on holiday in Cyprus. He claimed that ‘it was consensual’, that he had ‘seen the videos’ and – as a result of his repulsive remarks – that he was being subjected to ‘ludicrous attacks … from the women’s rights lobby’.
In our view, Jonathan Hoffman is a fanatical Zionist activist, a pro-Israel apologist and an anti-Palestinian Islamophobe. We believe that he should be ignored by anyone who considers themselves to be an anti-racist, and by those who support and value academic freedom, Palestinian rights and women’s rights.
This page contains the considered opinions of the Support David Miller campaign, informed through research that we have conducted. We welcome robust debate about all of the issues discussed on this page and expect that it will inspire critical conversations about the impact of the Zionist movement on freedom of expression and pro-Palestine activism in the United Kingdom.
Cover Image: © Mark Kerrison / Alamy Stock Photo