Demonstrators at Tricycle protest against UK Jewish Film Festival boycott
Outside the Tricycle Theatre: (from left) Susan Berman and Lynda Levene (Photo: Sandy Rashty)
Around 250 people gathered outside the Tricycle Theatre on Thursday evening to protest against the venue's decision to boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival over its ties with Israel.
On Tuesday, the theatre said it had told the UKJFF it would not host the festival - scheduled for November - unless it gave up its £1,400 sponsorship by the Israeli embassy. The UKJFF refused and is now looking for an alternative venue.
Many of the demonstrators said they believed the Tricycle's ultimatum was antisemitic and insisted they would never again visit the theatre in Kilburn, north London.
Pro-Israel protestors chanted: “Shame on the Tricycle; no to antisemitism; no to racism; no to double standards.”
One of the organisers was Ilana Katz, 23, a volunteer with the Zionist Federation. She said: “We are here to show our support for Israel.
“We are not afraid to stand up for what we believe. They are not going to make us hide away. We are proud to be Jewish and live in the UK.
“We asked members of the Tricycle to come out and speak to us, but they declined. Donors to the Tricycle were also asked, but they declined.”
Janine Greyman, a member of Southgate Reform Synagogue, complained there were no communal leaders at the protest.
She said: “There are no senior Jews in culture here – they’re our leaders, they should be here. If we don’t stand together now, it can happen again and again.”
Susan Berman, a Stanmore United Synagogue member, said: “I was a big supporter of the Tricycle, I was on their mailing list - but I won’t go back again.
“It’s personal enough when boycotts are about Israel; but this is the Jewish film festival.
Protestors taking a stand against the Tricycle Theatre's decision to boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival (Photo: Sandy Rashty)
“The Tricycle has a lot of Jewish donors. I think a lot of them will pull out, and if not, they should be ashamed.”
JFS student Harry Richer, 18, said: “It’s completely double standards. They’re boycotting a liberal and democratic country surrounded by dictatorships. The Tricycle are showing Algerian films – and they don’t have the best record of human rights.If you want to be politically neutral, why deal with other government funding? It’s ridiculous.”
Ella Goldwater, a 17-year-old JFS student, was at the protest with her mother Loretta Childs.
Ms Goldwater said: “A lot of people are anti-Israel now, even Jews. They think they’re worldly and knowledgeable, but they’re not.”
Lynda Levene, a member of Bushey United Synagogue, said: "I had to come to protest. I feel very strongly about it. This is the censorship of films."
The protesters held up placards that read: “Don’t punish London’s Jews” and cheered as drivers of passing cars hooted in support.
There was small counter-protest. Some witnesses said they saw a group carrying Palestinian flags being ushered away by police.