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The Tricycle hosted the awards each of the last eight years, but this year told executive director Judy Ironside that, because of the Gaza thing, hosting an event funded by the Israeli government would be unacceptable.
It’s not that it’s Jewish, see. It’s because it’s connected to a country that shoots back when terrorists target its civilian population. Can’t have that.
Ms Ironside said: “We have always sought to convey a wide perspective on the conflicts in the Middle East and initiate open dialogue with our audiences and guest speakers, and the Israeli Embassy have always supported us in this. The Tricycle have refused to take this into account in their decision.”
She told the Guardian that “the Tricycle theatre have shown themselves unwilling to work with what is clearly an apolitical cultural festival is tremendously disappointing. They have chosen a boycott over meaningful engagement – to the great detriment of this celebration of Jewish culture, which is of course intrinsically connected to the state of Israel.”
The UKJFF added that the embassy had funded the event for 17 years and that the festival was apolitical. Tricycle’s new artistic director is Indhu Rubasingham, and she explained the theatre will host the UKJFF, provided no funding comes from the Israeli government – or any other governmental agency in the region.
“The festival receives funding from the Israeli embassy, ” said Ms Rubasingham, “and given the current conflict in Israel and Gaza, we feel it is inappropriate to accept financial support from any government agency involved.
“We offered to provide alternative funding to cover the loss of the contribution from the Israeli embassy. We want the festival. However, the UKJFF decided it was not willing to decline sponsorship from the Israeli embassy and, to our regret, withdrew the festival from the Tricycle.”
The festival’s mission statement reads: “We aim to develop a culture where Jewish and Israeli film is recognized and enjoyed by the widest possible audience, and position Jewish-related film at the heart of British culture. Our work encourages pride of, and knowledge in, our Jewish culture amongst our younger generations and promotes understanding and awareness towards Jewish and Israeli people and culture.”
“The Tricycle theatre under Nick Kent had a stunning history of truthful story telling. A great part of its support and its audiences came from the Jewish sector, ” Maureen Lipman said in a statement. “We always knew that even if we disagreed with the message, we accepted that it came from a reasoned and balanced argument. Today that ceased. The Tricycle have decided to punish Jewish people in the Diaspora for one view of what is taking place in the Middle East and that is quite unacceptable.”
“Be clear on this. @tricycletheatre is now officially antisemitic. It is singling out the Jewish state for boycott, ” Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, wrote on Twitter.
Don’t you just love it when the word “inappropriate” makes it into the reasons to mess with Jews? We’re just inappropriate folks, that’s all there is to it.
Although the theatre’s stance had critics, including actress Maureen Lipman, others, including National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner, defended the policy.
Last week, at the Edinburgh Festival, a local venue had to cancel a show by an Israeli theatre group when demonstrators from the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign demonstrated on opening night. The venue said they had to cancel the show due to policing concerns.
Nothing inappropriate there, it’s just that the nice people who hate Jews objected. Why risk violence, right? Better to keep the place dark one night than have to deal with all those insurance claims later.
The Ben-Gurion University Pola dance troupe has also been cancelled in the Edinburgh Festival, because of security fears.
The fact that there are almost as many Arab students as Jews at Ben Gurion University didn’t make a difference.