London theater rejects hosting Jewish film festival

The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn has dropped the UK Jewish Film Festival because it was sponsored by the Israeli Embassy

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A theater in north London has recently refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) sponsored by the Israeli Embassy, against the backdrop of Tel Aviv’s airstrikes that have killed almost 1,900 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Israeli action comes in response to Hamas rockets being launched into its territory.

The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, which was expected to showcase at least 26 films as part of the event in November, said Tuesday that it would not accept any funding from “any party to the current conflict.”

“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,” Indhu Rubasingham, artistic director of the Tricycle, wrote in a statement posted on the theater’s website.

While Tricycle’s theater offered to use its own resources instead, UKJFF said the demands were “unacceptable.”

Stephen Margolis, chairman of the UKJFF, described the situation as “extremely saddening” and accused the theater, which has hosted the festival for the past eight years, of politicizing the cultural event, the BBC reported him as saying on Tuesday.

In reaction, a rally has been organized to protest the theater not screening Jewish films.

The local Brent and Kilburn Times website reported Wednesday that “a demonstration will take place outside a playhouse in Kilburn tomorrow following its refusal to host a Jewish event sponsored by the Israeli Embassy.”

“Campaign Against Antisemitism UK” aim to protest at 6 pm local time Thursday. On campaign’s Facebook page it has accused the theater of punishing the Jewish community by politicizing the celebration of Jewish cinema.

Meanwhile, The National Theater chief Nicholas Hytner defended Tricycle against accusations of anti-Semitism, London Standard Evening Online reported Wednesday.

Hytner said Rubasingham asked festival organizers to forgo Israeli embassy sponsorship to maintain political neutrality.