Protesters lobby the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn over its refusal to host Jewish event
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
More than 100 people protested outside a theatre in Kilburn yesterday following its refusal to host a Jewish cultural festival sponsored by the Israeli Embassy amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Scores of people from all over the country lobbied against the Tricycle Theatre in High Road, Kilburn, following their decision to drop the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) which screens at least 26 films for the first time in eight years.
Indhu Rubasingham, artistic director of the Tricycle, labelled the funding festival organisers received from the embassy as “inappropriate” given the current furore between Israel and Palestine.
Darren Borg, co-founder of Campaign Against Antisemitism UK, which organised the demonstration said: “We feel that the situation in the UK and in the rest of Europe, has been dramatically intolerable to us.
“If Jews show any support for Israel, they would be ostracised from society.”
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He continued: “This is a massive event on the Jewish social calendar so it is a big snub to our community. Why do we have to suffer?
“It’s a cultural event not a political one. The festival not only shows Israeli films but Palestinians films which are critical of the Israeli government.”
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Micah Smith, who lives in Kilburn and regularly visits the playhouse, said he is “disturbed” by the decision.
He continued: “This is my local theatre so it is extremely annoying and puts me in an uncomfortable position. It does not feel as much of a home as it once did.
“I am really saddened by it. Going forward, it feels like if a Jewish cultural event is to proceed, it must distance itself from Israel.”
Police formed a line to separate protesters from a pro-Palestine man who lambasted Israel’s bombing of which has reportedly killed more that 1,600 civilians.
Supporting the Tricycle’s stance, bystander, Tony Traub, 53, who lives in Willesden, said: “I’m glad the theatre has taken a stand given the current political situation in Gaza.
“If people hear that the festival is funded by the Israel embassy, they would be outraged because of the country’s bombing of UN protected schools.”
Ms Rubasingham said previously that alternative funding was offered to the festivals organisers and that the theatre would not accept financial support from any government agency involved in the crisis.
She added: “We want the festival. Now, more than at any time, Jewish culture must be celebrated.
“The Tricycle serves many different communities and cultures and must navigate neutrality which is why it cannot directly be taking government money in this difficult time.
“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.”
Do you agree or disagree with the decision made by the Tricyle Theatre? Vote here.