The Art of Anti-Semitism: The Tricycle Theatre Only Admits Anti-Israel Jews While The National Prefers The Rich Ones
MANY words have been written about demands by London’s Tricycle Theatre that Jewish Film Festival sever all ties with the city’s Israeli embassy.
Indhu Rubasingham, the theatre’s artistic director, said the festival should not accept funding from “any party to the current conflict” between Israel and Hamas. She added the Tricycle had offered to fund the festival itself, in order to replace sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy in London.
The event has been hosted at the Tricycle for some years. But this year the boss wanted Israel excluded. Ms Rubasingham wanted the Jews who run the film week – which features film and debate from all sides – to refuse Israel’s money, some £1,400. She wanted them to hand back Israeli cash and join her in her moral stance against the country. Comply with her demands and these Jews would be allowed in. And the story of how the Jews of Jewish Film Week handed back Israel’s cash would fly.
Who would agree to such terms? Not the people behind the festival? Inded, Ms Rubasingham had wanted more:
Three weeks ago, UK Jewish Film began receiving anxious emails and phone calls from the Tricycle Theatre, the north London home of the UK Jewish film festival for the past eight years. It’s understood that the theatre board was making demands it had not made before. The board asked to be allowed to view in advance all of the films that were made with Israeli backing in order to approve their content. When the UKJFF dismissed this as censorship, the Tricycle conceded the point. But it refused to back down on another demand: that the festival should hand back the small percentage of its funding that came from the Israeli embassy.
Ms Rubasingham noted:
“The Tricycle has always welcomed the festival and wants it to go ahead. We have proudly hosted the UK Jewish Film Festival for many years. However, given the situation in Israel and Gaza, we do not believe that the festival should accept funding from any party to the current conflict. For that reason, we asked the UK Jewish Film Festival to reconsider its sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy.
“We regret that, following discussions, the chair of the UKJFF told us that he wished to withdraw the festival from the Tricycle.”
See how fair she is. If Hamas back a film or music event (which is unlikely), the Tricycle would also ban its cash, offer to swap the dirty money for its own more pure coin. The Tricycle makes no politcal position. It just hates war and militarism of all and any kind.
In 2012, the Tricyle hosted the London MENA Film Festival.
The London MENA Film Festival (LMFF) aims to be the go to place for Middle Eastern and North African cinema in London. We have three main objectives – by promoting MENA film in London we aim to reach audiences who might not otherwise get the opportunity to see this cinema, thus encouraging cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.
We also want to give film-makers from the region and its Diaspora a much needed platform to showcase their talents here in the Capital. Thirdly, we feel passionately about connecting the Diaspora not only to people in the MENA region but also to each other – creating a culture of inclusivity and avoiding one of difference.
Good stuff. It had backing:
One much appreciated donation came from The International Arab Charity (IAC) which considers film a good medium to develop understanding of Arab cultures, especially given the sizeable Arab populations in Europe.
On the charity’s website we learn:
We are also very grateful to the Palestinian Delegation, the Egyptian Embassy, the Jordanian Embassy and the Arab League for all the help and support they have given us since our re-launch last year.
Human Rights Watch says Egypt tortures children, arrests journalists, perscutes Christians and is not on the side of the angels and other artistic directors of North London cinemas:
There has been no accountability for the military’s involvement in the torture and beating of hundreds of demonstrators on February 25, March 9, April 9, May 4, and December 17, 2011. In March 2012, a military judge acquitted the only military officer on trial for the sexual assault against seven female protesters in a military prison in March 2011 under the guise of “virginity tests.” In September, a military court sentenced three military officers to two years’ imprisonment for driving the armored vehicles that ran over and killed 13 protesters in front of Maspero television building in October 2011. However, there was no investigation into the shooting of 14 other protesters on the same day. No other military officers have been held accountable for abuses since the January uprising.
In 2013, many Egyptians were killed in street protests. The Army-run State has clamped down on free speech and the right to protest.
The IAC take its help in good faith. It seeks to help those in need. But the Tricyle Theatre will need to consider all donors and their histories and politics when staging future shows. As Blake Ezra notes:
Ms. Rubasingham… Do you not believe that your actions have simply created a rod for your own curative back? What happens the next time any international film festival is sponsored by an embassy of any other country, maybe not a country engaged in heavily reported military action, but a country that is, for example, anti-gay or with a questionable human rights record? Do you stand by your list of stipulations then too? Will this landmark decision not become the watershed moment upon which all your future programming will be judged and potentially criticized for being hypocritical? Have you accepted any funding from any British government agency since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that have claimed so many thousands of civilian lives? Do you begin a magnanimous campaign to boycott movies that feature Jewish actors, or do you find out whether these actors support the policies of the State of Israel first? Ms. Rubasingham, the question I’m getting at is: Once you have started singling out the behavior of other democracies, and using this as a decision–making factor upon which you either allow or deny diverse cultural activities in your venue, where on earth do you stop? I used to see the Tricycle as a safe space, welcome to all, but today this positive perception has been tainted.
Ms. Rubasingham, let’s be clear, this is the UK Jewish Film Festival, not Israeli Movie Week. You know as well as I do the epic variety of subject matter contained in these movies. There will be films that are favorable towards Israel, there will be films that are massively critical of Israel, and there will be films that don’t mention Israel at all.
And the Tricycle is not alone:
National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner supported the Tricycle’s stance.
He said: “I greatly regret the UKJFF’s decision to leave the Tricycle cinema. Indhu Rubasingham and the Tricycle board could not have made clearer their commitment to Jewish culture or their desire to host a festival that would have included films from all over the world, including Israel.
“It is entirely understandable that they felt obliged to insist that no government agency should sponsor the festival.
“The Tricycle serves a diverse community with a notably diverse repertoire and it has a clear responsibility to make no statement about the dispute that is behind the current conflict.
“It greatly saddens me that the UKJFF have unwisely politicised a celebration of Jewish culture and I deplore any misrepresentation of the Tricycle’s position. I support Indhu Rubasingham and the Tricycle without reservation.”
Didn’t the Tricycle politicise the celebration of Jewish culture by asking Jews to reject Israel?
Nick Cohen in The Spectator:
The Tricycle has not gone through the minutiae of the funding for any other group that has visited its premises. It does not demand that comedians and actors issue manifestos that meet with its approval before allowing them to appear. The Tricycle’s press spokeswoman, a hapless flak catcher named Kate Morley, told me that she couldn’t think of any other instance when it had imposed political conditions on performers that had no relevance to the work they were proposing to perform.
…it is not the job of cultural bureaucrats to demand that artists conform to their politics, particularly when they have one standard for Jewish artists and another for everyone else. Not least for themselves.
The Tricycle received £725,000 last year from the British state. That is, the same state that launched an ‘illegal’ war in Iraq and whose current prime minister has been denounced by one of his own ministers for his government’s ‘morally indefensible’ support of Israel. By its own lights, the Tricycle should not touch Cameron’s dirty money. It told the Jewish Film Festival organisers ‘we feel it is inappropriate to accept financial support from any government agency involved’ in the Gaza war. The British government was ‘involved’ in the Iraq war. It is ‘involved’ in Gaza because it allows arms exports to Israel. But you only have to ask if the Tricycle will live up to the same morals it demands of Jews, to know that it will continue to gobble up public funding and say it does not affect what work it shows, while banning others for doing the same and saying the same…
Also, the National Theatre is subsidised by the State. It features the Shed, which will become the Dorfman Theatre, after Travelex’s founder, Lloyd Dorfman, who donated £10m.
What do we know about him?
Dorfman…considers doing business in the Middle East to be essential if you are to be part of the global economy. “The Middle East is a very fast-growing and important part of that world,” he explains. “We need to be operational there, and we are.” …He insists that he has never encountered a problem related to antisemitism or anti-Zionism in doing business in the region.
“In a lot of these cases you have to have a local partner, and I’ve always told my guys to front up to the fact that the founder and chairman [of the group] is Jewish, and it’s never, ever been a problem. We’ve got some great partners.”
He recalls: “One time, I was there [in a Middle East country] before Rosh Hashanah and I remember one of the business partners wishing me a happy New Year — unprompted — before I left.
“I’ve said that sometimes I wonder that if the world was left to business people, that actually we would make a lot more progress, because business people are pragmatic and sensible and it’s about developing the opportunity. It’s only when the politicians get involved that things can get rather more complicated.”
And, yep, he does business with Israel.