The campaigner behind the Sadiq Khan blimp that’s due to fly in Parliament Square has denied being anti-Semitic after old tweets of his were uncovered, telling talkRADIO he's "not anti-Semitic" and is "pro-Israel".
Yanny Bruere, 28, is behind the ‘Make London Safe Again’ protest, which will see a 29-foot balloon in the likeness of Sadiq Khan wearing a yellow bikini, float over the square for two hours.
He had the blimp created in response to the ‘Trump Baby’ blimp that flew in July, and to rising crime levels in London.
The independent Leicester-based investigative website Bellingcat uncovered an old Twitter account of Bruere’s, on which comments about Israel and the Jewish community were made.
“It seemed odd that the individual who managed to raise more than 50,000 pounds in about a week’s time was hitherto unknown, with barely any previous social media activity and no clear links with political or ideological groups,” the article on Bellingcat reads.
Through his active account's Twitter followers, they uncovered an old account with the handle @Yanny1112, which has now been deleted.
Twitter user Giles Peaker, who uses the handle @nearlylegal, sent a tweet in April last year with a screenshot of a comment from the @Yanny1112 account that he said was anti-Semitic.
Responding to a tweet about Ken Livingstone - who was suspended from Labour in April last year after claiming Hitler supported Zionism - Bruere wrote: “Speak out against the Jews at your peril. You know who’s in charge when you’re not allowed to speak about them #jewsruntheworld.
In 2016, another account tweeted screenshots of tweets from Bruere in which he wrote: “Goyim are just like cattle to us”. Goyim is a Hebrew word colloquially used for non-Jews, and claiming that it means ‘cattle’ is regarded as an anti-Semitic trope.
Bellingcat also included a screenshot of another tweet which read: "ISIS was created by Israel and USA".
'They weren't anti-Semitic - I'm pro-Israel'
The Sadiq Khan bikini blimp. Image: Yanny Bruere
talkRADIO asked Bruere about the Twitter account, and he confirmed it did belong to him. “They [the comments] weren’t anti-Semitic. That account was mine, it was deleted about eight months ago,” he said in a phone call. The Bellingcat piece, which was published on August 1, claimed the account was deleted when a reporter contacted Bruere, although they didn’t specify when that happened.
“That article was full of inaccuracies. Just because I’m pro Israel doesn’t mean I can’t criticise their policies,” Bruere continued. Asked to confirm whether he considered himself pro-Israel, he said: “Yes, I’m pro Israel.”
'No links to anyone political'
The Bellingcat article also made reference to the fact that the likes of Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of Infowars, and Mark Collett, former chairman of the Young BNP, supported the campaign.
Bruere has retweeted messages of support from Watson, former adviser to Nigel Farage Raheem Kassam, and Katie Hopkins, as well as sharing news articles from various sources about the blimp.
He has been interviewed by Watson for the Infowars YouTube channel and Bellingcat notes that the Khan blimp was reported on by multiple outlets considered to be right-wing, like Rebel Media - for which Katie Hopkins now works - Fox News and Russia Today.
Reports were not exclusive to right-leaning outlets, though: it was covered across the media including by The Guardian, the Mirror and the BBC, and CNN, NBC and ABC in the US.
talkRADIO asked Bruere if he’d received any donations from “notable people, activists or groups” towards the costs of the blimp.
“Just from donations on Crowdfunder,” he responded. “[I have] no links or affiliations from anyone political or any organisations/donors.”
Update 31/01/18: A line has been added to clarify that reports of the blimp appeared across the media spectrum.