London Theatre rejects Jewish film festival

A London theater is refusing to host this year’s UK Jewish Film Festival because it receives some funding from the Israeli Embassy. The Tricycle Theatre has hosted the film festival for eight years and was scheduled to screen 26 films this coming November for the 9th edition.

The theater’s director of arts, Indhu Rubasingham, issued a statement this past Tuesday saying that because of the ongoing conflict, the board decided not to host the festival under the current sponsorship arrangement.

“The festival receives funding from the Israeli embassy and given the current conflict in Israel and Gaza, we feel it inappropriate to accept financial support from any government agency involved,” she stated in the letter. “We offered to provide alternative funding to cover the loss of the contribution from the Israeli embassy. 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.”

Judy Ironside, founder and executive director of the film festival foundation, said that the Tricycle Theatre had “chosen a boycott over meaningful engagement to the detriment of this celebration of Jewish culture which is intrinsically connected to the state of Israel.”

The festival has had other patrons, including Sky, the National Lottery film fund, and the Swedish Embassy.

Commenting on BBC Radio recently, Stephen Pollard described the theater’s reaction as “extremely reprehensible.”

He also said that it was a Jewish focused and not an Israeli focused film festival. “What Tricycle has said is that they refuse to allow Jews who associate with Israel in any way to show films in their cinema.”

But Laurie Penny had a different opinion of the decision, sating that: “Anti-Semitism it is not. Anti-Zionism, it is.”

In the wake of the ongoing conflict, Jews throughout Europe have been subject to attacks and hate speech. The line between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feelings seems to have vanished and many people need to be reminded of these differences.