Film fes­ti­val Banned

But some won’t at­tack boy­cott

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SANDY RASHTY

THE BOARD of Deputies and Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil have con­demned the Tri­cy­cle Theatre’s de­ci­sion to ban the UK Jewish Film Fes­ti­val as “shame­ful”.

But de­spite the com­mu­nal out­rage, a num­ber of Jewish fig­ures in­volved with the north-west Lon­don theatre have re­fused to crit­i­cise the boy­cott.

Sir Trevor Chinn, who is in the theatre’s “direc­tor’s cir­cle”, Jewish Book Week chair Gail San­dler, a “pioneer” of the theatre and Tri­cy­cle trus­tee Jeremy Lewi­son all said they had no com­ment on the ban when con­tacted by the JC.

On Tues­day, the Tri­cy­cle, which has shown UKJFF films for the past eight years, said it would not host six galas and 26 screen­ings this year be­cause of the fes­ti­val’s “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” ties to t he Is­raeli em­bassy.

The Tri-cy­cle had de­manded that the UKJFF re­turn £1,400 spon­sor­ship it re­ceives from the em­bassy, say­ing that the theatre would com­pen­sate, but the UKJFF re­fused.

Judy Iron­side, UKJFF ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, 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.”

Sir Ni­cholas Hyt­ner, the direc­tor of the Na­tional Theatre, de­fended the Tri­cy­cle. He said: “It is en­tirely un­der­stand­able they felt obliged to in­sist that no govern­ment agency should spon­sor the fes­ti­val. It greatly sad­dens me that the UKJFF have un­wisely politi­cised a cel­e­bra­tion of Jewish cul­ture.”

Jonathan Levy, chair­man of The Tri­cy­cle, added: “Given the present sit­u­a­tion in Is­rael/Pales­tine, and the un­fore­seen and un­happy es­ca­la­tion over the past three weeks, the Tri­cy­cle can­not be as­so­ci­ated with any ac­tiv­ity di­rectly funded or sup­ported by any party to the con­flict. The Tri­cy­cle will be pleased to host the UKJFF pro­vided it oc­curs with­out sup­port or other en­dorse­ment from the Is­raeli govern­ment.”

In a joint state­ment, Gillian Mer­ron and Si­mon John­son, chief ex­ec­u­tives of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil, said of the Tri­cy­cle de­ci­sion: “The event is a cel­e­bra­tion of global Jewish cul­ture and in­her­ently apo­lit­i­cal. This de­ci­sion is shame­ful and shows that boy­cotts of Is­rael in­evitably lead to the ha­rass­ment of Jewish cul­ture and in­di­vid­u­als.”

Although some Jewish fig­ures as­so­ci­ated with the theatre re­fused to com­ment on the ban, a se­nior part­ner at JPC Law, a “cor­po­rate part­ner” of the Tri­cy­cle, said the firm was with­draw­ing its do­na­tions.

Other in­di­vid­ual donors said they were re­view­ing their po­si­tion.

Peter Levy, a for­mer chair­man of the JC, said he had not yet de­cided whether he would with­draw his fi­nan­cial sup­port but added: “It’s a shame. I hope they re­view their de­ci­sion.”

Miriam Bor­chard, a donor and Wizo sup­porter, added: “I am shocked, it has al­ways been very sup­port­ive of eth­nic groups. Now I am hav­ing my doubts about my sup­port for the Tri­cy­cle. Last time the Globe [theatre] was faced with an Is­rael boy­cott, they went ahead with the show.”

West Lon­don Sy­n­a­gogue mem­ber An­drew Stone, a trus­tee of the Kobler Trust, which has to date do­nated a six­fig­ure sum to the theatre, said: “We deeply re­gret that they con­sid­ered it ap­pro­pri­ate for one cul­tural, char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion to take a po­lit­i­cal

po­si­tion, the im­pact of which will in­evitably cause harm to another.”

Bloomberg, one of the Tri­cy­cle’s largest spon­sors, re­fused to com­ment.

Deb­o­rah Nathan, direc­tor of the chil­dren’s char­ity Emu­nah, said it had can­celled ticket book­ings at the Tri­cy­cle, which amounted to £1,480. She said: “It is a sad day for An­glo-Jewry.”

A group of young Jewish pro­fes­sion­als were due to stage their first or­gan­ised protest out­side the Tri­cy­cle on Thurs­day. Joseph Cohen, 32, co-found- er of Cam­paign Against An­ti­semitism, es­tab­lished this week, said he ex­pected hun­dreds at a rally out­side the Kilburn theatre.

Mr Cohen, from Hendon, said: “We’re hop­ing to tell the pub­lic about the huge dou­ble stan­dards the Tri­cy­cle have put on the film fes­ti­val.

“They said they were do­ing this to keep it neu­tral, but they’ve made it po­lit­i­cal.”

For 2014-2015 the Tri­cy­cle re­ceived a grant of nearly £200,000 from Brent Coun­cil. Labour coun­cil­lor Neil Nerva, said: “I’m com­ing from a left-wing point of view and it’s not fair. I think it sets a bad prece­dent for cul­tural boy­cotts in a di­verse city. I am con­cerned about where this starts and stops. They had the In­dian film fes­ti­val.”

Ac­tress Mau­reen Lip­man said: “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.”

Jewish film­maker Jon Ron­son, in a se­ries of tweets, wrote: “Bri­tish Jews should de­cide how to feel about Is­rael, not have cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions grand­stand all over us. “

Our lips are sealed: in­volved with the Tri­cy­cle, but say­ing noth­ing — Sir Trevor Chinn, Jeremy Lewi­son, Gail San­dler

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