News from Toronto:
Several protesters were arrested and a police officer sent to hospital with a broken rib after a protest against a right-wing British organization in Toronto Tuesday night.
The protest was sparked by a meeting to hear a webcast of a speech by the founder of the English Defence League… The meeting at the Zionist Centre was organized by the Jewish Defence League, to hear a live speech broadcast via the Internet, from English Defence League founder Stephen Lennon, who goes by the name Tommy Robinson.
An earlier report has some background:
Meir Weinstein, national director of JDL Canada, said he was visiting Israel when he met someone connected to Mr. Lennon. The two later got acquainted on the phone.
Back in 2009 I noted that the EDL-linked Casuals United website had included a prominent link to the Jewish Defense League in the USA – however, this was taken down shortly after I noticed it. Nachum Shifren, the California-based “Surfing Rabbi” who addressed the EDL in London in October, used to be JDL founder Meir Kahane’s driver, although he was “excommunicated” from the JDL in 2005 for supporting Pat Buchanan. Israeli flags have been prominently dispalyed at EDL events, both to counter accusations of neo-Nazism and as a sign of vicarious identification with the country and its conflicts.
Kahane, of course, is remembered as a belligerent extremist, and Kahanist groups have been associated with acts of violence. Weinstein, however, has tried to create an impression of distance – as was explained in a Canadian radio report in 2009:
Bernie McNamee: There’s another twist tonight in the George Galloway saga. The controversial British MP was refused entry to Canada because of his alleged support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Now it turns out the man claiming credit for tipping off immigration officials is Meir Weinstein. Galloway’s supporters say Weinstein himself was a spokesperson for a Jewish extremist group on Canada’s list of banned terrorist organizations. Our security correspondent Bill Gillespie has the story.
[Bill Gillespie] …In 1994 he was identified in a Canadian Press article as a spokesperson for the Kach Party, also known as Kahane Chai. A Kach member in Israel had just massacred more than 50 Palestinian worshippers. Weinstein refused to condemn the attack. He doesn’t deny making the statement but he denies ever being a member of Kach.
Meir Weinstein: I’ve never been a member of Kach or Kahane Chai.
According to reports from the time, Weinstein stated that “our organization does not condemn the attack. It condemns the Israeli government for not providing adequate protection for settlers.” Another JDL spokesman, Brett Stone, has since said that the massacre had been “preventive measure” that had “saved lives”.
Gillespie: Canada, the US, and the European Union later put Kach and Kahane Chai on their list of banned terrorist organizations. Weinstein denies any connection between Kach and his present group, the Jewish Defence League of Canada. But left-wing bloggers who support Galloway point out that the logos of both groups – a clenched fist in an embedded Star of David – are almost identical. Weinstein says Kach stole the logo from the JDL.
Meir Weinstein: Um, that’s the logo of the Jewish Defence League so they took it from the Jewish Defence League but again I don’t dictate to them what they’re going to do or anything like that.
Gillespie: But bloggers also discovered a link on Weinstein’s Facebook page to a chat group called “Death to Arabs”. Weinstein says the link was sent to him in Hebrew and he added it not knowing what it said. He has since deleted it. But despite his best efforts he didn’t succeed in keeping Galloway from his speaking engagements in Canada.
This exchange has been transcribed a Canadian blogger named Firebrand, who adds some pertinent and mocking commentary:
Kach stole the JDL’s logo? Come on Meir, why not give the actual explanation which is that the JDL was founded in 1968 in New York by Meir Kahane who moved to Israel in 1971 where he founded the Kach Party a few years later…. As for there being no connection between Kach, Kahane Chai and the JDL – that’s just a bald-faced lie. Apart from having the same founder and leader in the person of Kahane, even after Kahane’s death his successor as JDL leader, Irv Rubin, raised funds for Kach/Kahane Chai and promoted the terrorist group.
…Weinstein has been an observant Jew, by his reckoning, since the late 1970s and even claims to have served in the Israeli military but he can’t read Hebrew? I have to give him credit though, this was somewhat more believable than Weinstein’s original explanation which was that the Iranians somehow planted the link on his page.
Meir Weinstein is also known under other names: he was born as Marvin Weinstein, and he has also used the names Meir Halevi and Meir HaLevi Weinstein; a 2002 posting on Kahane.org mentions “Meir HaLevy from the Kahane Movement in Toronto” as due to take part in an “Annual Kahane Memorial Dinner”. This website was run by Michael Guzovsky (numerous spelling variations), and was closed down in 2003 after Kahane Khai was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by US authorities; various court documents about this can been seen at Kahane Net. Guzovsky has featured on this blog previously: he later moved to the West Bank, and, as Yekutel Ben Yaacov, he enjoys friendly links with WorldNetDaily‘s “Jerusalem correspondent” Aaron Klein (Klein’s whitewashing of the Israeli far-right is notorious).
Firebrand also draws attention to a blog called BigCityLib, which tells us that the JDL’s recent EDL event was also supported by a group called Canadian Hindu Advocacy; the group’s director, Ron Banerjee, is an enthusiast both of Israel and of the BJP, and he and Weinstein appear to be long-standing allies. According to Banerjee:
…the Hindu pro-Zionist movement includes the main opposition political party (BJP) and affiliated social service organizations (VHP, RSS) with an estimated 50 million members. This constitutes the world’s largest concentrated block of Zionist support on the planet.