A theatre has become embroiled in a row about the Gaza conflict after they refused to hold a Jewish film festival – because it is sponsored by ISRAEL.
The Tricycle Theatre has told organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival they would not hold the annual event while it is sponsored by the Israeli Embassy.
The theatre, in Kilburn, north London, has hosted the event for the last eight years, and was due to screen at least 26 films as part of the November event.
But despite offering to pay for the event out of their own pocket, festival organisers have refused to drop funding by the Israeli Embassy, and are looking for a new place to host the popular event.
Stephen Margolis, chairman of the UKJFF, said the situation was “extremely saddening” that the theatre was looking to bring politics into the film festival.
Executive director Judy Ironside 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.”
In a statement posted on their website, the theatre said they “would not accept sponsorship from any government agency involved in the conflict.”
Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham (doub corr) said: “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 also offered to replace that funding with money from our own resources.
“The Tricycle serves many communities and celebrates different cultures and through difficult, emotional times must aim for a place of political neutrality.”
Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, backed the Tricycle for their position.
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.”
But many have taken the side of the film festival, including Jewish actress Maureen Lipman, who slammed the theatre for punishing Jewish people.
She 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.”