Nick Cohen and Bethnal Green

Philip Dore writes:


Just drawing your attention to an error on your website.

The entry “Nick Cohen – telling lies about Bethnal Green (2)” (Islamophobia Watch, 12 May 2005) states that Oona King’s press release on the attack of Jewish mourners by Muslim youths makes no mention of the attackers spitting, throwing eggs or shouting “you fucking Jews”.

There are in fact news reports of such actions having taken place. You can find a report detailing this here.

I draw your attention to the following paragraph: “One theory is that the abuse was directed at Oona King (…). However, quite a number of the attendees were wearing kippot (skull caps), and some of the abuse shouted was vocally anti-Semitic. I heard people shouting ‘you f***ing Jews’, he declared.”

I would also draw your action to a Guardian report on the incident here which reports those mourners present as stating that they believed they were attacked because they were Jewish, rather than because they were with Oona King. It also quotes a local youth as telling the reporter, “There’s a lot of hatred towards the Jewish. We’ve got hatred towards them.”

Given these two reports providing evidence of antisemitic attitudes, you might wish to consider removing or amending this post. Also, since the post accuses Nick Cohen of “telling lies”, I strongly suggest you remove that before he sees it, since the corroboration of his claims makes your post a defamatory one.


Phil Dore

Bob Pitt replies:

Hi Philip

The post “Nick Cohen – telling lies about Bethnal Green (2)” was in fact a follow-up to the original post here. The title was not our own but was taken from the post from Dead Men Left that we quoted.

Thanks for the link to the article on Ynet News, which I was not aware of. However, it’s worth pointing out that David Russell’s is the only eyewitness account that refers to youth shouting “You fucking Jews”.

As Dead Men Left pointed out, Jonathan Freedland states quite explicitly that “not a word was spoken to explain the missiles raining down” – that was why he went back later to inquire into the causes of the missile-throwing. While he did not rule out anti-semitism as a possible motive, he was unable to reach any firm conclusion.

Oona’s account doesn’t mention the appalling phrase about “fucking Jews” being shouted. Indeed, she makes no reference to any anti-semitic abuse occurring at all. Which is odd, is it not, given that she was at the centre of the events?

I can only suppose that David Russell’s hearing is considerably more acute than that of the other people attending the memorial meeting.

I’m more than happy to post this exchange on Islamophobia Watch, if you want, plus any response you might make to this reply.

Or else I could just add a link to the Ynet News piece.

All the best


Philip Dore responds:

Hi Bob

Yes, I’m happy for you to post this exchange.

A quick response from me to your reply.

I take your point that the title is not your own, but I still think that “Nick Cohen telling lies” is an unfair description of his article, given that there is at least one news report that appears to back up Cohen’s account. I’m guessing that it’s this news report that Cohen is using to describe the incident in question, as to my knowledge Cohen wasn’t actually there in person. Perhaps a fairer title would be, “Some would dispute Nick Cohen’s depiction”?