Fri 22 January 2021

Mike Stuchbery examines the funding and support for Far Right figures delivered under the guise of journalism.

In the wake of several terrorist attacks inspired by their rhetoric, Far Right activists across the globe are increasingly coming under scrutiny – not only from experts in radicalisation and extremism, but governments and security agencies.

These organisations are determined to identify both the sources of funding for these activists, and their ongoing agenda.

Levant and Yemini have demonstrated a disregard for UK laws and public order in their inflammatory and misleading reporting.

Alongside the investigations into the foreign funding sources of Far Right activists such as ‘Tommy Robinson’, it is also worth considering the role played by a small group of foreign, hyper-partisan journalists in creating division and misinformation.

Chief among these is the founder of Canadian Far Right outlet, The Rebel, and Robinson’s former employer, Ezra Levant.

Levant, a major supporter of what is known as the ‘counter-jihad movement’, has 175,000 Twitter followers – a considerable social media platform.

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Levant in 2008

Since Robinson’s initial arrest for breaching the peace outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018, and his subsequent contempt of court charge, Levant has been making regular trips to the UK where he has attended trials in which Robinson has been involved. There, he has been criticised for his reporting from the courtroom.

Indeed, during a March 2019 visit, when Robinson attempted to sue Cambridgeshire Police, Judge Karen Walden-Smith described Levant’s tweets as “pejorative, inaccurate and inflammatory” and threatened to hold him in contempt of court.

It is unclear which Visa Levant has secured for his trips to the UK, journeys that undeniably constitute work. He has not responded to requests for clarification. What is clear are that the trips are funded via crowdfunding campaigns targeted at both The Rebel and Robinson’s supporter base.

Perhaps of more concern is the Australian anti-Islam activist, ‘Avi’ Yemini, who has made a number of trips to ‘report’ on Robinson – most recently during his MEP campaign during the European Elections. He has, in part, been supported by Levant’s efforts.

Yemini, a former Israel Defense Forces soldier and martial arts instructor, is a regular attendee at Robinson’s rallies, having re-branded himself as a journalist in the past few years.

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Avi Yemini and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon

Passing through police cordons at rallies, Yemini often approaches counter-protesters and has been accused of goading those he confronts.

While this may be considered a breach of the peace in itself, Yemini has been linked to, or present at, instances of harassment and violence in the past.

In December 2018, Yemini was present when Robinson drove five hours to confront the parents of a young man he claimed had published his address on the internet, as YouTube video shows.

In April, Yemini was refused entry and deported from the US after he stated he was going to confront comedian Jim Jeffries. This came after Yemini objected to the edit of a pre-recorded interview with Jeffries that aired on Comedy Central

Yemini has also faced court in Melbourne, Australia – as recently as early May – to answer charges of alleged harassment and throwing a knife at a woman.

The reporter, who also describes himself as “the world’s proudest Jewish Neo-Nazi“, has a long track record of associating with members of Australia’s Far Right – several of whom describe themselves as Nazi supporters.

In the wake of a spate of Far Right figures being denied entry to the UK, such as Generation Identity figurehead Martin Sellner and YouTuber Lauren Southern, it seems time to reconsider Levant and Yemini’s ability to pass through UK borders.

Both Levant and Yemini have demonstrated a disregard for UK laws and public order in their inflammatory and misleading reporting.

At a time when Westminster is under pressure to tackle fake news and heal divisions, it is imperative that their access to the UK is examined.

Come and meet Mike Stuchbery at this year’s Byline Festival

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