Tommy Robinson: Former EDL leader holds secret gathering with Manchester Jews

Gathering sparks outrage within the wider Jewish community who argue the far-right leader is at loggerheads with them

Maya Oppenheim
Wednesday 05 July 2017 13:51 BST
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Despite being accused of antisemitism, Mr Robinson has declared his support for the Jewish people and Israel
Despite being accused of antisemitism, Mr Robinson has declared his support for the Jewish people and Israel

Tommy Robinson has met with members of Manchester’s Jewish community at a secretive event where he is believed to have outlined his extreme views on Islam in a speech.

The former English Defence League leader is said to have talked to around a dozen members in Prestwich, just outside Manchester city centre, until the early hours of last Thursday morning.

Mr Robinson mentioned the meeting on his Twitter account and claimed it was a charity fundraiser for the Amelia-Mae Foundation which supports people with Neuroblastoma.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, one community member said her friends had organised the meet-up but she would “take legal action” if her own name was linked to the event.

An additional source told the publication the meeting with the far-right campaigner, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, went on until “the early hours” of last Thursday morning.

The meeting has sparked outrage in the wider Jewish community whose members argue Mr Robinson incites racial hatred and is in the same league as the British National Party (BNP) - where he used to be a member.

The Jewish Labour Movement, which has been a formal affiliate of the Labour Party since 1920, told The Independent they were deeply alarmed by the secret gathering and members of the organisation had been left "outraged".

Jeremy Newmark, the chairman, said: "There can be no space in our community for the politics of extremism and hate. British Jews stood firmly against the British Union of Fascists, the National Front and the BNP.

"We are warning them not to be taken in by the likes of Tommy Robinson who is part of that same legacy of hate. We call upon the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council to take political and educational steps to distance our community from Robinson and his associates … No ifs, no buts, Tommy Robinson is an enemy of our community.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, who describes itself as a “democratic, cross-communal voice”, condemned the meeting.

“Tommy Robinson’s record of anti-Muslim provocation means that he could never be a partner of a respectable or mainstream Jewish organisation,” they said on Twitter.

Jewish Voice, a left-wing group, were equally disdainful of the meeting and have a launched a campaign titled Jews Against Islamophobia in response.

Despite being accused of antisemitism, Mr Robinson has declared his support for the Jewish people and Israel. He has long tried to curry favour with British Jews and has travelled to Israel, declaring himself a “Zionist”.

"People actually think I'm a Jew. I've gone full 360 over last eight years. From people thinking I hate Jews to people thinking I am a Jew,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Mr Robinson recently sparked fury for attacking the Quran as a “violent and cursed book” just a day after the Finsbury Park terror attack.

The far-right leader, who was filmed scuffling with a man at Ascot last month, announced he was leaving the EDL in 2013 in a joint conference with think tank Quilliam. His departure was widely covered, with the former leader later telling police he would help with their investigations into alleged racists within the extremist group.

A representative for Mr Robinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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