Racism in Kilburn

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

These are dark days. There have been more than 240 an­tisemitic in­ci­dents since the start of Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge and an out­pour­ing of an­ti­semitism on so­cial me­dia the like of which has never been seen be­fore. But the de­ci­sion of the Tri­cy­cle Theatre to bar the UK Jewish Fes­ti­val from its doors un­less it dis­owned Is­rael is the most wor­ry­ing in­ci­dent for many years. It is open racism — sin­gling out an apo­lit­i­cal Jewish cul­tural fes­ti­val for spe­cial treat­ment and de­mand­ing that its or­gan­is­ers con­form to a po­lit­i­cal view spelt out by the theatre. It is bul­ly­ing of a mi­nor­ity, sep­a­rat­ing out ‘good’ Jews who dis­own Is­rael from ‘bad’ Jews who don’t. And it is, for all the de­nials, a form of an­ti­semitism — mak­ing a de­mand of a Jewish char­ity that it makes of no other or­gan­i­sa­tion. The Tri­cy­cle hap­pily shows films funded by the Chi­nese govern­ment or the Rus­sians. It takes spon­sor­ship from the In­dian govern­ment (which has a deeply con­tro­ver­sial record in Kash­mir) for its Asian Film Fes­ti­val. But when it comes to a Jewish char­ity, dif­fer­ent rules ap­ply. The Tri­cy­cle trum­pets its sup­posed com­mit­ment to ‘so­cial in­clu­sion’, which it has re­de­fined to ex­clude Jews.

Grat­i­fy­ingly, many peo­ple of all po­lit­i­cal shades have ex­pressed their anger at the Tri­cy­cle’s racism, es­pe­cially non-Jews who can spot an­ti­semitism when they see it. More so, it has to be said, than some of those in­volved with the Tri­cy­cle. It is be­yond be­lief that lead­ing com­mu­nity fig­ures such as Sir Trevor Chinn, a mem­ber of the JLC and the theatre’s ‘Direc­tor’s Cir­cle’ and Gail San­dler, the chair of Jewish Book Week and a ‘Pioneer’ of the Tri­cy­cle, have re­fused to ut­ter a word in pub­lic against the de­ci­sion. There are times when the only ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour is to speak out. The chief ex­ec­u­tives of the Board of Deputies and the JLC have done just that and rightly called the Tri­cy­cle’s be­hav­iour “shame­ful”. It is, to put it mildly, dis­ap­point­ing that other lead­ing com­mu­nal fig­ures are not pre­pared to show sim­i­lar lead­er­ship. One might even call it shame­ful.

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