Anti-Palestinian activists guilty of harassment

Jonathan Hoffman and Damon Lenszner harassing boycott activists. (InMinds)

Two infamous anti-Palestinian activists in London pleaded guilty to charges of harassment and threatening behavior on Wednesday.

Jonathan Hoffman, a former leader in the Zionist Federation, and Damon Lenszner changed their earlier not-guilty pleas in exchange for government prosecutors dropping related assault charges.

The incident took place in October last year when the pair attacked Palestine solidarity protesters calling for the boycott of a Puma store in Carnaby Street, central London.

Hendon Magistrates’ Court, in Northwest London, imposed a fine and costs totaling $350 on Hoffman, and about $300 costs and charges on Lenszner, whose lawyer said he was unemployed.

The court also imposed an eight-week community sentence of a curfew on Lenszner, meaning he must stay at his Hendon home between the hours of 9pm and 6am.

The order is to be enforced with an electronic ankle tag.

In addition, the court imposed an “indefinite” restraining order on the pair, barring them from any contact with three activists from the Palestine solidarity group InMinds.

Hoffman and Lenszner are barred from coming within 10 meters of the three and face a potential maximum prison term of five years should they violate the order.

“Bullying behavior”

After government prosecutors showed him video of the incident, the judge, Nigel Dean, said the pair’s actions amounted to “aggressive, bullying behavior.”

The video shows them surrounding, screaming at, and – in Lenszner’s case – striking the boycott activists. They had intended to “prevent the protest,” the government lawyer argued.

Lenszner’s defense lawyer, Daniel Berke, admitted his client had “crossed the line” and had gone beyond acceptable free speech, claiming he had “snapped.”

Hoffman’s lawyer argued for his client to receive a conditional discharge instead of a fine. This would have meant Hoffman could have claimed not to have been convicted of a crime – but the judge did not allow it.

He ruled that the pair’s “wholly unacceptable” actions were “intimidating,” which risked provoking a reaction. Both were in the protesters’ faces “hectoring” them and encroaching on their personal space.

They had “tried to drown out what was being said” by the boycott protesters and they had been “counterproductive” to their own cause, the judge said.

Hoffman immediately responded to his conviction on his blog calling it a “disgrace” based “on lies.”

In March, Hoffman and Lenszner failed to attend their initial hearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court and warrants were issued for their arrests.

They surrendered the next day, claiming not have to have been notified.

Bigots

Jonathan Hoffman is a notoriously aggressive anti-Palestinian activist who has been harrassing Palestine solidarity meetings in London for years.

Lenszner moved to London from Plymouth only last year, but has already become infamous for his thuggish behavior.

He appeared in a BBC documentary as part of a group of British Jews visiting the occupied West Bank, during which he walked out of a discussion with a Palestinian activist.

He was also filmed by TV news media at the height of last year’s manufactured Labour anti-Semitism crisis screaming through a megaphone at left-wing lawmaker Chris Williamson about supposed “Labour fascists.”

The pair can also be seen in the video above as part of a group harassing attendees of a Jewish Voice for Labour meeting in October. The left-wing group hosted shadow finance minister John McDonnell, but anti-Palestinian activists created these disturbances.

Some of the pair’s supporters turned out in court today. They included Richard Millett, an anti-Palestinian blogger with a long record of disrupting meetings, often in tandem with Hoffman.

Millett is suing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, it emerged in press reports last week.

In 2017, Hoffman and Millett were forcefully ejected from a Palestinian Return Centre meeting by parliamentary police for their abusive disruptions.

Also supportive is David Collier, another anti-Palestinian blogger. He submitted a statement to the court, lawyers said.

One supporter was absent though: former Jewish Labour Movement chair Jeremy Newmark. Writing sympathetically on a thread on Hoffman’s Facebook page in March, Newmark called the case “appalling.”

Updated to add information and video on JVL meeting in October.

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Source Article from https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/anti-palestinian-activists-guilty-harassment

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