In a thoroughly odious decision, the Tricycle Theatre has banned London’s annual Jewish Film Festival. They cancelled all the screenings on the grounds that the organisers were not prepared to hand back £1,400 of sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy.
Nick Cohen at The Spectator blogs:
” ‘Would you force anyone else to behave like this?’ the promoters of the UK Jewish Film Festival asked the artistic director of London’s Tricycle Theatre.
“Indhu Rubasingham and her colleagues dodged and hummed. They didn’t like the question and did not want to reply to it. The silence was an answer in itself. Of course the theatre would not hold others to the same standard: just Jews.”
The Tricycle “has not gone through the minutiae of the funding for any other group that has visited its premises”. Nor does it “demand that comedians and actors issue manifestos that meet with its approval before allowing them to appear”. Their spokesman “couldn’t think of any other instance when it had imposed political conditions on performers that had no relevance to the work they were proposing to perform”.
Mr Cohen adds:
“The Tricycle received £725,000 last year from the British state. That is, the same state that launched an ‘illegal’ war in Iraq and whose current prime minister has been denounced by one of his own ministers for his government’s ‘morally indefensible’ support of Israel. By its own lights, the Tricycle should not touch Cameron’s dirty money. It told the Jewish Film Festival organisers ‘we feel it is inappropriate to accept financial support from any government agency involved’ in the Gaza war. The British government was ‘involved’ in the Iraq war.
“It is ‘involved’ in Gaza because it allows arms exports to Israel. But you only have to ask if the Tricycle will live up to the same morals it demands of Jews, to know that it will continue to gobble up public funding and say it does not affect what work it shows, while banning others for doing the same and saying the same.
“If it were an honourable organisation, the Arts Council would resolve the double standard by withdrawing funding. Its policy documents state: ‘Our definition of diversity encompasses responding to issues around race, ethnicity, faith, disability, age, gender, sexuality,
class and economic disadvantage and any social and institutional barriers that prevent people from creating, participating or enjoying the arts.’ The closure of Britain’s leading Jewish film festival surely prevents ‘people from creating, participating or enjoying the arts.’ If it were to make a stand, the Arts Council would be doing something more important than opposing hypocrites and censors. It would be defusing a dangerous and hysterical culture.
Writing in The Times(£) Stephen Pollard says:
“Of all the nations and all the charities it works with, it is only the UK Jewish film festival that has been told it must adhere to a political diktat and it is only Israel, the Jewish state, that is the object of its opprobrium. Not India, which has its own issues in Kashmir, and which funds the Tricycle’s Asian film festival. Not China, which has had government-subsidised films shown. Not Russia…
“To say there are double standards at work here does not come close to the truth. There is rank hypocrisy and, yes, antisemitism. What other word is there for the demand that an apolitical Jewish charity dissociates itself from Israel or be banned?
“Antisemitism is not just jack-booted skinheads or Muslim yobs. It is also the demand that Jews behave in a certain way or face the consequences — and they only have themselves to blame if they don’t.”
Those buying Lottery tickets should also be aware that they are funding anti-semitism. Last year the theatre obtained £201,249 from the National Lottery “good causes” fund.
This year the theatre is being paid £761,289 in Arts Council grants – funded by the taxpayer and Lottery ticket buyer.
This year they are also receiving £198,000 from Brent Council. A look at their last published accounts suggests these subsidy junkeys get roughly the same from the taxpayer as they do from box office takings.
Was Brent Council concerned about funding an antisemitic organisation?
A spokesman replies:
“At present the Tricycle Theatre is not in breach of the Service Level Agreement or the Standard Conditions of Grant.”
Really? The Service Level Agreement says:
The Tricycle shall ensure:
• The programme of activities reflects the diverse nature of Brent’s population.
Cllr Joel Davidson, a Conservative councillor for Brondesbury Park Ward says it is unacceptable “to expect or demand a Jewish cultural body to completely disavow the State of Israel”. He demands the council’s Labour leadership make clear if “they approve of this kind of selective censorship”.
One of the most absurd comments in the Theatre’s statement justifying their ban was that they “must aim for a place of political neutrality”. Did their desire to ensure political neutrality prompt them to host the far left comedian Mark Thomas? The Tricycle Theatre is not a place of political neutrality but an agitprop factory for left wing bigotry. In pursuit of being politically correct they end up embracing the most vile discrimination. That is the way to appease the prejudices of the arts bureaucrats and council bureaucrats who hand out the money.
There certainly is a problem with state subsidy of the arts leading to politicisation. But it is rather different from that claimed by the Tricycle Theatre.