After two demonstrations organized by IJAN-UK last year in front of the Tricycle Theatre protesting the Israeli Embassy sponsorship of the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) , the Tricycle decided this year that given the onslaught against Gaza, they would not host the festival if it was connected financially with the Embassy. To make absolutely sure there could be no charges of anti-Semitism, the Tricycle offered to replace the money from the Embassy with money from other sources. The festival organizers were outraged: they refused the Tricycle’s offer, and refused to dissociate itself from the Israeli government. This led to accusations of of anti-Semitism and theatre contributors threats from donors and local councilors to withdraw their funding including government funding.
For the UKJFF, Israeli sponsorship took priority over the film festival itself. UKJFF’s supporters were ready to destroy the theatre rather than have the film festival go ahead without funding from the Israeli State. IJAN were among the many individuals and organizations that came out vociferously in the press in support of the Tricycle. Those supporters included a group of over 500 artists who wrote a letter to the Guardian – see more on their Facebook page
Under threat to their very existence, the Tricycle was forced to make a joint statement with the festival organizers which basically said they would try and work together in the future. However, it was too late for this season, and we are pleased to note that Actress Maureen Lipman, a spokesperson for the Festival, was quoted in the press as saying that the festival was unlikely to go back to the Tricycle anytime soon, “There is a very large and cogent anti-Israel feeling around that part of the world and they will have made it impossible for the festival to go ahead.”
In the wake of the brave stand by the Tricycle Theatre, the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol also refused to allow any Israeli money to be used in their festival. And there are plenty of people including IJAN members who are organizing, determined that other theatres in the UK not scab on the Tricycle by taking Israeli money and showing the festival. Additionally, in Brazil over fifty artists participating in the 31st Sao Paulo Art Biennial, (6 Sept) rejected Israel’s finance for the exhibition (US$40,000), and forced the Biennial organizers to withdraw Israel as one of the sponsors of the exhibit. People are increasingly demanding: No Israeli Funding of the Arts!