Author Archives: jews4big


TIME FOR ARTISTS TO DEFY PRO-ISRAEL CENSORSHIP

Novellist Kamila Shamsie (left) chaired a panel discussion with Tanika Gupta, Antony Lerman, Ofer Neiman and April De Angelis

Novellist Kamila Shamsie (left) chaired a panel discussion with Tanika Gupta, Antony Lerman, Ofer Neiman and April De Angelis

A groundbreaking panel discussion at Amnesty International on October 7 proved to be a most heartening display of determination from many artists, especially theatre people, not to allow Palestine to become a no-go area as a result of threats and libellous attacks from Zionists. The whole discussion can be seen and heard  here:

- The UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport boasts of collusion with a foreign ambassador to interfere in the governance of an independent arts institution.
– A small community theatre is pilloried as antisemitic in the national media for querying Israeli embassy funding.
– Behind-the-scenes threats bully a leading London theatre into censoring its own website.
– Sponsors of a Palestinian film festival are individually targeted with demands they withdraw support.

These were some of the instances of limits on artistic freedom exposed during a public discussion at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre on Tuesday October 7, chaired by novelist Kamila Shamsie, a former trustee of Free Word and English PEN.
With two playwrights on the panel and an audience populated by actors, writers and other artists, evidence of false charges of antisemitism being used to threaten artists and arts organisations generated anger and a determination to fight back.

“When we defend people against charges of antisemitism we should be angrier at the libellous accusations and keep the main focus where it belongs – on Israel’s racism and illegal actions,” said playwright Caryl Churchill, who was in the audience.

Kamila and Tanika After Tric

At the start of the meeting Shamsie read out a letter from the Department of Culture Media and Sport to a member of the public, about Culture Secretary Sajid Javid’s stance when the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn came under sustained attack over the summer.  The theatre had asked that, while Israeli forces were pounding Gaza and killing Palestinians in large numbers, the annual UK Jewish Film Festival it was due to host for the eighth time should not take funds from the Israeli Embassy. The Tricycle was subjected to pickets alleging discrimination against British Jews. Javid – a member of Conservative Friends of Israel – publicly rebuked the theatre. Artistic Director Indhu Rubasingham faced racist abuse and calls for her dismissal, even after the Tricycle board had backed down and said it would accept Israeli embassy funding in future.

The Department letter showed that far from defending the theatre’s right to choose its funding sources, Javid actively participated in harassing it – seemingly at the behest of the Israeli government.

“The Department has kept closely in touch with the Israeli Ambassador during this unfortunate chain of events,” wrote Arts and Broadcasting policy officer Dempster Marples. He said Javid would be attending the gala opening of the festival in its alternative venue “in order to demonstrate his support.”

The letter concluded, without any evident sense of irony: “The Department shall continue to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, and to champion freedom of cultural expression at every opportunity.”

Panellist Antony Lerman, a former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and a founding member of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights, condemned the DCMS letter for condoning false antisemitism accusations against the Tricycle Theatre.
Lerman told the meeting it was perfectly legitimate for an arts institution to choose to decline funding.
“The Tricycle’s actions showed no signs of antisemitism of any kind, nor did they represent any form of attack on freedom of expression,” he said. “And yet the official pro-Israel organisations said the Tricycle had banned a Jewish film festival. They fell back on their default position, alleging boycott and equating it with antisemitism.”

Another speaker, playwright Tanika Gupta, said she had been one of hundreds of theatrical colleagues who had rallied to support the Tricycle’s Rubasingham.

Their letter, published in the Guardian on August 15, said: ‘Punishing a small theatre for standing up for its principles is a big step backwards for anyone concerned with challenging prejudice or promoting freedom of speech. Anyone who truly wants to stand against antisemitism needs to stand with the Tricycle theatre and challenge those who are accusing it in a disproportionate, unjust and ill-informed way.’
“Antisemitism, Islamaphobia and other forms of race prejudice are on the rise,” said Gupta. “Labelling the Tricycle antisemitic bleeds significance from the term.”
This position was well-understood by many leading theatrical figures who expressed their support for the Tricycle behind the scenes. “In future they need to act faster and in public,” said Gupta. “We need to get organised!”

The meeting also heard from writer Rachel Holmes, former head of literature at the South Bank. In a message read out by Shamsie, Holmes explained her disappointment at the decision of the Donmar Warehouse to censor a podcast of an event she programmed concerning Britain and the Middle East at the Donmar in March and April of this year.

To accompany Peter Gill’s production of his play Versailles, the Donmar presented a series of events with leading political and cultural commentators exploring the legacy of World War I.

Podcasts were to be available on the Warehouse website. However there is no podcast corresponding to the last of the five, Mr Balfour’s Letter to Lord Rothschild: How the Great War Remapped the World.

“On 1st April,” said Holmes, “24 hours prior to the discussion taking place, the Donmar Warehouse received its first complaint from a funder claiming that the event was an attack on the state of Israel, an ‘anti-Israel rally’ and antisemitic.”

This was accompanied by threats to withdraw funds and to raise grievances with public funders, including publically funded cultural institutions in which Holmes works and/or sits on the boards. The intimidation worked. Donmar did not post the offending podcast.

Another example was described by audience member Bill McAllister, former Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. He said that during his tenure (1977–1990), the ICA was directly threatened with blacklisting by the Board of Deputies of British Jews for hosting the first UK Palestinian Film Festival. The BoD attempted to implement its threat by writing to every sponsor demanding that they should pull out. Attempts at face-to-face discussion collapsed with the BoD spokesman “flying into a rage,” McAlister said. In this instance the ICA stood firm. But the audience at the panel discussion was left wondering how many more cases of successful bullying and intimidation there have been over the years.

Judith Knight of ArtsAdmin said that institutions should develop clear ethical funding policies and make them public. “Yes, it may mean that we have to cope with less money, but we are less likely to be caught out if we make decisions that enrage powerful interests.”

Equity activist Doug Holton said the question of Zionist interference in the arts must not be “a no-go area” within democratic structures such as unions and guilds representing cultural professionals.

“We need to be ready to confront Zionist racists calling us racists,” Holton said. “Without politics art is mere entertainment. We must defend the arts against political manipulation.”

Les Levidow, of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, supported calls for artists to organise against Zionist bullying.
“Throw back the accusation of anti-Semitism as the racist stereotype it is. Do not buy into the lie that all Jews are bound to the State of Israel,” he said.

Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine was encouraged by the way theatres came together in defence of the Tricycle theatre. “Soon people will have to explain why they are NOT boycotting,” said Rosenhead.

Poet Seni Seneviratne argued passionately for artists to try to make a difference in a situation of injustice. “I will take a moral decision on any invitation from an oppressive regime, and in the case of Palestine I’m supporting a boycott call from within, from Palestinians themselves,” she said. “Not to boycott would be crossing a picket line and I am not a scab!”

Dramatist April De Angelis, another member of the panel, pointed out that there were several current and historical instances of boycotts challenging dubious sponsorship of the arts – a process she called “culture-washing”.

She pointed to the stand taken by the Writers Guild of the UK and Actors’ Equity in supporting the boycott campaign targeting Apartheid South Africa in the 1970s and beyond, and noted that today, the Art not Oil coalition “campaigns against sponsorship by criminally negligent corporations.”
Having worked with young Palestinians in play-writing workshops De Angelis had decided to reject Israeli “culture-washing” and join the cultural boycott. “Those kids would not have had access to my work if performed in Israel,” she told the meeting.
The final member of the panel, Ofer Neiman, an active member of the Israeli group Boycott from Within, explained culture-washing in more detail.

He quoted a special department in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs describing its own responsibilities as “attaining prominence and high exposure abroad for Israel’s cultural and scientific activity, as an important tool for the promotion of its political interests.”

The term Hasbara (“explaining” in Hebrew) is frequently used to describe the way presenting positive messages about Israel serves to “drown out the growing criticism of its appalling human rights violations,” said Neiman.

He cited Nissim Ben-Shitrit, former deputy director general at the foreign affairs ministry: “We regard culture as a hasbara tool of the highest order, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture”.

Efforts to bring about change in the actions of the Israeli government need to be based on the understanding that culture cannot be separated from politics.

Neiman said Israeli dissidents were too few to bring about change by themselves, from within.

“Artists, in the UK and elsewhere, can play an important role in the collective effort to stop the Israeli regime’s crimes, simply by saying no to the use of culture for Israeli state propaganda. Those who do so may face smearing and bullying, but they will find supporters all over the world, including Israeli citizens who will stand with them.”

  • The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), which first drew the Tricycle Theatre’s attention to the Israeli Embassy funding of the UK Jewish Film Festival in 2013, has set up an initiative under the rubric No Israeli Funding for the Arts. It is calling on all of the venues hosting the film festival following its rift with the Tricycle theatre to pull out of the screenings because of the Embassy link.
  • Full details follow.
NO ISRAELI FUNDING OF THE ARTS

IJAN is centrally involved in the No Israeli Funding of the Arts initiative – we want everyone we are in touch with to know that the Israeli-funded UKJFF (UK Jewish Film Festival) is taking place this year (6-23 November) in cinemas in Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Nottingham.

We have written to all the cinemas – see our letter below – and we are asking that you contact your local (or even a distant) cinema by phone, email, website, leaflet or street protest, and let them know what you think of them hosting an Israeli-funded event. (All cinema contact details are at end of this email.) Call or write to the local press or call-in radio to tell them what you think of their not caring for the Jewish films, only for the Israeli rebranding (see below).

Check the UKJFF calendar to find when each cinema is hosting UKJFF films. The opening gala night is at the London BFI on 6 November – we are planning to protest their collaboration with the slaughterers of the Gazan people.

Note: IJAN workshop, From Gaza to Ferguson @ Anarchist Bookfair, 18 Oct, 3-4pm

NO ISRAELI FUNDING OF THE ARTS

LETTER TO CINEMAS HOSTING THE UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

We are writing to you as one of the cinemas hosting the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) 6-23 November, 2014, to ask that you reconsider.

 

Who we are
We are a diverse group, including Israeli and other Jewish people, most of us local to, and often in the audience of, the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, northwest London. In 2012 local residents leafleted the cinema to oppose its hosting of the Israeli-sponsored UKJFF; in 2013 we protested outside the Tricycle when it again hosted the UKJFF. (The protests were called by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.)

 

Tricycle / UKJFF
This year, many including ourselves, welcomed the Tricycle’s stand against the festival’s funding by the Israeli Embassy during Israel’s 50-day slaughter on Gaza.

The Tricycle had offered the organisers of the UKJFF replacement funding so that the film festival could go ahead at the Tricycle.  But the UKJFF refused their offer and to dissociate itself from the Israeli government – the priority was Israeli sponsorship, rather than the film festival.  Is the UKJFF merely a means to a political end, to give Israel a humanist image?

 

Who attacked the Tricycle
The Government’s Chief Whip, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Israeli Ambassador, each publicly attacked the Tricycle for having refused Israeli sponsorship.  They slandered the Tricycle by accusing it of antisemitism; as did donors and local councillors who threatened to withdraw funds and involve the Charity Commission.

 

Who defended the Tricycle
Support came from National Theatre director, Nicholas Hytner, acclaimed director Lenny Abrahamson; over 500 artists, including prominent theatre directors and playwrights, some of whom affirmed “We artists have a right to boycott” (letter to the Stage); and note the artists’ solidarity page: “The Tricycle Theatre is Not Anti-Semitic.

 

In July, Scottish artists, including National Poet Liz Lochhead, signed an open letter in The Herald protesting an Israeli-funded theatre company at the Edinburgh Fringe. After vociferous public protest, the show closed after one performance.

 

Following the Tricycle’s refusal of Israeli funding, the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol and artists from the 31st Sao Paulo Art Biennial in Brazil also refused Israeli funding.

 

What Israel’s apologists did
While crying antisemitism, Israel’s apologists used their attack on the Tricycle to try to distract the public from Gaza: from seeing Israeli politicians, religious authorities, journalists and the public, calling for mass rape, mass murder, even genocide of Palestinians; from the bloodied tanks, F16s, drones, bunker busters, sea-to-land missiles, remote-controlled machine guns, that blasted schools, hospitals, mosques, blocks of flats, children playing football; and from the 2,200 Gazans killed — over 500 children, and half a million displaced.

 

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.

 

What happened to the Tricycle
Even while Gaza was being destroyed, the Tricycle was forced to retreat.  But actress Maureen Lipman, advocating for the UKJFF admitted that they knew the depth of the community’s support for the theatre’s stand, announcing that the festival was unlikely to go back to the Tricycle any time soon.

 

That stand reaffirmed that the arts are social and political.  It was welcomed by anti-racists everywhere. And please note: both the local council and the Arts Council ruled out loss of funding.

 

What we want you to do
The assistant manager of the Everyman cinema insisted that “refusing to host any arts festival on political grounds will cause more harm than good.” (Email, 10 September 2014.) The Everyman’s is not a principled position – it is complicity and appeasement.  It is the argument of those who refused to boycott South African apartheid.

 

Who knows better than Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a proponent of cultural boycott, who said, “We in South Africa know about oppression and occupation and know about the power of BDS” (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions)?

 

We ask that you take direction from the anti-racist, non-violent, Palestinian-led BDS movement.

 

We ask that you refuse to host the UKJFF – not because it is Jewish, of course, but because it is funded by the Israeli Embassy.  The embassy’s job, especially in London (the boycott “hub”) is to promote what it calls Brand Israel – state-sponsored propaganda, designed to camouflage Israeli brutality within a smokescreen of culture, including film festivals.

 

We ask that you side with the victims and survivors of the assault on Gaza – not be part of the cover-up of war crimes being committed against them.

NoIsraeliFundingOfTheArts@gmail.com

 

CINEMAS HOSTING THE UKJFF

Glasgow

Venue              CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts)

Address           350 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3JD

Email               gen@cca-glasgow.com

Telephone       0141 352 4900

 

Venue              Glasgow Film Theatre

Address           12 Rose St, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G3 6RB

Email               jaki.mcdougall@glasgowfilm.org (Chief Executive)

Telephone       0141 332 6535

Leeds

Venue              MAZCC

Address           311 Stonegate Road, Leeds LS17 6AZ

Email:              enquiries@ljwb.co.uk

Telephone       0113 268 4211

 

Venue              Seven Arts Centre

Address           31(a) Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3PD

Email               info@sevenleeds.co.uk

Telephone       0113 26 26 777

 

London

Venue              Arthouse Crouch End

Address:          159A Tottenham Lane, N8 9BT

Email               info@arthousecrouchend.co.uk

Contact form   http://www.arthousecrouchend.co.uk/contact/

Telephone       020 8245 3099

 

Venue              BAFTA British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Address           195 Piccadilly, W1J 9LN

Email               info@bafta.org

Contact form   http://www.bafta.org/contact-us.html

Telephone       020 7734 0022

 

Venue              Barbican

Address           Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

Email               film@barbican.org.uk

Feedback        https://www.barbican.org.uk/general/online-feedback-form.asp

Telephone       020 7638 4141

 

Venue              BFI Southbank

Address           Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XT

Email               director@bfi.org.uk

Contact form   http://www.bfi.org.uk/form/contact-bfi-southbank

Telephone       020 7255 1444

 

Venue              Ciné Lumière

Address           17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT

Email               box.office@institutfrancais.org.uk

Telephone       020 7871 3515

 

Venue              Curzon Mayfair

Address           38 Curzon Street, W1J 7TY

Email               manager.mayfair@curzon.com

Contact form   http://www.curzoncinemas.com/contact_us/

 

Venue              Odeon Muswell Hill

Address           Fortis Green Road, N10 3HP

Contact form   http://www.odeon.co.uk/contactus/

Telephone       0207 321 6237 (conferencing & events)

 

Venue              Everyman Maida Vale

Address           215 Sutherland Avenue, W9 1RU

Email               maidavale.manager@everymancinema.com

Contact form   http://www.everymancinema.com/contact-us/

Telephone       0871 906 9060

 

Venue              Everyman Hampstead

Address           5 Holly Bush Vale, NW3 6TX

Email               hampstead.manager@everymancinema.com

Contact form   http://www.everymancinema.com/contact-us/

Telephone       0871 906 9060

 

Venue              JW3

Address           341-351 Finchley Road, London NW3 6ET

Email               info@jw3.org.uk

Telephone       020 7433 8988

 

Venue              LJCC (London Jewish Cultural Centre)

Address           Ivy House, 94-96 North End Road, NW11 7SX

Email               admin@ljcc.org.uk

Contact form   http://www.ljcc.org.uk/contact/

Telephone       020 8457 5000

 

Venue              Odeon South Woodford

Address           60/64 High Road, South Woodford, E18 2QL

Contact form   http://www.odeon.co.uk/contactus/

Telephone       0207 321 6237 (conferencing & events)

 

Venue              Odeon Swiss Cottage

Address           96 Finchley Rd, NW3 5EL

Contact form   http://www.odeon.co.uk/contactus/

Telephone       0207 321 6237 (conferencing & events)

 

Venue              Phoenix Cinema

Address           52 High Road, East Finchley, N2 9PJ

Email               management@phoenixcinema.co.uk

Telephone       020 8444 6789

 

Manchester

Venue              Cornerhouse

Address           70 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5NH

Email               info@cornerhouse.org

Telephone       0161 228 7621

 

Venue              Cineworld Didsbury

Address           Parrs Wood Entertainment Centre, Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 5PG

Contact form   https://www.cineworld.co.uk/contact  (250 words max.)

Telephone       0208 742 4010

 

Venue              Menorah

Address           198 Altrincham Rd, Wythenshawe, Manchester M22 4RZ

Email               filmclub@menorah.org.uk

Contact form   https://menorah.org.uk/contact-us/

Telephone       0161 428 7746

 

Nottingham

Venue              Broadway Cinema

Address           14–18 Broad St, Nottingham NG1 3AL

Email               info@broadway.org.uk

Contact form   http://www.broadway.org.uk/contact/steve (Chief Executive)

Telephone       0115 9526 611

 

THE DEATH OF LIBERAL ZIONISM – IN THE NEW YORK TIMES!

This post has been available online for a while but it’s so good it’s worth giving another airing.

Antony Lerman

Antony Lerman

Blogger Philip Weiss introduces an important New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman thus:

A hugely important piece in the New York Times this weekend is all over my inbox this morning. As it should be. It’s datelined London, not New York: and writer Antony Lerman declares “The End of Liberal Zionism : Israel’s Move to the Right Challenges Diaspora Jews.” (Yes we rang that knell here a few weeks back.)

Antony Lerman says that liberal Zionists are now a figleaf for rightwing Jewish supremacy in Israel and a dam on open discussion of equal rights in the United States. He celebrates the non- and anti-Zionist left– in the NYT:

Today, neither the destruction wreaked in Gaza nor the disgraceful antics of the anti-democratic forces that are setting Israel’s political agenda have produced a decisive shift in Jewish Diaspora opinion. Beleaguered liberal Zionists still struggle to reconcile their liberalism with their Zionism, but they are increasingly under pressure from Jewish dissenters on the left, like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices.

Along with many experts, most dissenting groups have long thought that the two-state solution was dead. The collapse of the peace talks being brokered by the American secretary of state, John Kerry, came as no surprise. Then, on July 11, Mr. Netanyahu definitively rejected any possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state. The Gaza conflict meant, he said, that “there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan” (meaning the West Bank).

Liberal Zionists must now face the reality that the dissenters have recognized for years: A de facto single state already exists; in it, rights for Jews are guaranteed while rights for Palestinians are curtailed. Since liberal Zionists can’t countenance anything but two states, this situation leaves them high and dry.

Read the rest here. 

PLOT THICKENS ON ZIONIST BULLYING OF TRICYCLE THEATRE

A bullying smear campaign which succeeded in pushing London community theatre the Tricycle into withdrawing its refusal of Israeli Embassy funding for a Jewish film festival reveals the lengths to which Israel’s supporters will go to destroy any small signs of independent thinking in the arts.

Intense pressure on Tricycle director Indru Rubasingham and her board included public denunciation from Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub and British Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, a Conservative Friend of Israel. The Jewish Chronicle could hardly suppress its delight at the success of the Zionist campaign of blackmail and threats, including withdrawal of sponsorship funds and calls for Rubasingham to be sacked.

Blogger Mark Elf, analysing the affair in forensic detail, saw evidence that the the Arts Council may have been leaned on to threaten the Tricycle with loss of its main source of funds.

The Tricycle Theatre buckled to threats made by either the Israeli ambassador, Daniel Taub, the UK Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid or both.  And, given the courage involved in their original stance, what threat would mean anything to them?

My guess is that the Arts Council threatened to close the theatre down by withdrawing its £760+k contribution.  Now should an Israeli ambassador or even a UK culture minister be in a position to influence that for the sake of their own politics?  I think not but I think that’s precisely what happened. 

Thankfully for the many courageous people working in the arts in the UK, growing awareness of the legitimacy of cultural boycott as a means of acting in solidarity with Palestinians has prompted a generous, collective response from the theatre world.

A letter signed by more than 500 theatre professionals appeared in the Guardian on August 15 saying:

Punishing a small theatre for standing up for its principles is a big step backwards for anyone concerned with challenging prejudice or promoting freedom of speech.

Anyone who truly wants to stand against antisemitism needs to stand with the Tricycle theatre and challenge those who are accusing it in a disproportionate, unjust and ill-informed way.

 

 

 

HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR MAKES FINAL GESTURE OF SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network has published the tribute below to Holocaust survivor Dr Hajo Meyer,  a campaigner for justice for Palestinians and an inspiration to the boycott movement until his death on August 22.

Shortly before he died he led more than 350 survivors and descendants in issuing a widely-publicised denunciation of Israel’s assault on the people of Gaza.

Read a press release about the statement here.

Click here for the Independent’s coverage.

 
 hajo.jpg
Honoring Dr. Hajo Meyer
This past Friday August 22, 2014, Dr. Hajo Meyer, proud member of IJAN and long time anti-Zionist activist passed away. Hajo was unwavering in his conviction and passion that Never Again meant Never Again for Anyone and in his outrage that his experience in Auschwitz is misused by Israel and Zionism to justify the colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Dr. Meyer was born in 1924 in Bielefeld, Germany. When he was barred from attending school there after November 1938, he fled to the Netherlands, alone. In I944, after a year in the underground, he was caught and subsequently survived 10 months at Auschwitz.
Dr. Meyer dedicated himself to countering the Zionist manipulation of the Nazi genocide to justify the colonization of Palestine. He played a leading role on the Never Again for Anyone tour of Europe in 2010, and of the United States in 2011.
We will miss Hajo. His message will continue and grow stronger as he is joined by survivors of the Nazi genocide, the descendants of its victims and survivors and all people committed to justice. Our hearts go out to those who loved him.
The morning of his death, the following letter from survivors of the Nazi genocide and the descendants of survivors and victims, in response Elie Wiesel’s attempt to justify the attacks on Gaza, was published as in the NY Times. Hajo was the first to sign on.
Below is the ad listed in the New York Times. For the full list of signers, click here.

ZIONISTS ON BACK FOOT OVER ISRAELI STATE FUNDING FOR FILM FESTIVAL

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson

UPDATE: IN A SHAMEFUL EXAMPLE OF INTIMIDATION AND HARASSMENT, A SMEAR CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED AGAINST THE THEATRE RESULTED IN ITS CHALLENGE TO ISRAELI STATE FUNDING BEING WITHDRAWN. SEE HERE FOR A TIMELINE TELLING THE WHOLE SORRY TALE.

Two leading Zionist apologists had the thankless task on Wednesday of defending Israeli embassy funding for a film festival left homeless after the intended venue objected to links with the genocidal state.

After news broke of the decision by the Tricycle Theatre in northwest London to ask the UK Jewish Film Festival to sever its financial links with Israel because of its latest bloody assault on Gaza, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard and Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, tied themselves in knots in two separate radio discussions with supporters of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel.

On Radio 4’s World at One, Laurie Penny, contributing editor to the New Statesman, slated Pollard for trying to equate a polite request to accept an alternative to Israeli state funding with rampant anti-Semitism.

The theatre had, after all, offered to replace the Embassy’s contribution with its own resources so that the festival could go ahead. It was the film festival organisers who had insisted on retaining their Israeli state link.

Pennie, herself of partial Jewish extraction, had written in the NS on July 23: “It is not anti-Semitic to suggest that Israel doesn’t get a free pass to kill whoever it likes in order to feel “safe”. It is not anti-Semitic to point out that if what Israel needs to feel “safe” is to pen the Palestinian people in an open prison under military occupation, the state’s definition of safety might warrant some unpacking. And it is not anti-Semitic to say that this so-called war is one in which only one side actually has an army.”

Radio 5 Live on Wednesday evening gave the Zionist camp another opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot, putting the JLC’s Johnson up against J-BIG’s Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. Listen from 02.39.30 to hear the discussion.

Johnson, claiming to represent the entire Jewish community in the UK, accused the Tricycle theatre of “opportunistically” picking on a Jewish event and undermining the “indelible link” between Jews in the diaspora and the state of Israel. He also insisted that cultural boycotts had never brought anyone closer to the peace and justice.

“Tell that to the people of South Africa,” said Wimborne-Idrissi, alluding to the long-running campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, including cultural boycott, that eventually brought South African apartheid to its knees. She challenged Johnson’s shackling of Jewish identity with Zionism as both historically wrong and currently dangerous, promoting the very antisemitism he unjustifiably alleges.

She made clear that there was nothing opportunistic about the Tricycle, where management had been in dialogue with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network about Israeli embassy funding since last year’s Jewish Film Festival. It was simply a case of people learning the truth about Israel’s cynical exploitation of cultural platforms to veil the state’s crimes against the Palestinian people and gaining the confidence to support the Palestinian call for cultural boycott.

It is telling that Stephen Margolis, chairman of the UK Jewish Film Festival, quoted in the Daily Telegraph accusing the Tricycle Theatre of politicising the affair, is trounced in the same report by no less a figure than National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner.

Giving  unreserved support to Tricycle director Indhu Rubasingham and the theatre’s board, Hytner said: “It is entirely understandable that they felt obliged to insist that no government agency should sponsor the festival.”

PALESTINIAN ARTISTS URGE – SUPPORT CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

A call has gone out from the representatives of the Palestinian cultural community to  fellow artists worldwide to support the cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

Freedom theatre logo Freedom Theatre logo

statement published on the website of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin says:

“We, cultural workers representing the majority of Palestinian performing art organizations, condemn the current Israeli attack and aggression on Gaza, and the indiscriminate killing and maiming of mainly civilians, among them many children and women.”

It calls upon “fellow artists and cultural organisations” to campaign against the Israeli assault through petitions, protests and statements.

It concludes:

“Further to that, we urge you to act by supporting the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel (PACBI), thereby refusing to be complicit in the ongoing occupation and apartheid.

Together, we can turn hopelessness into determination and the forces of division into unity. It is within our power.”

Read the full statement below and at

http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news/36377/

We, cultural workers representing the majority of Palestinian performing art organizations, condemn the current Israeli attack and aggression on Gaza, and the indiscriminate killing and maiming of mainly civilians, among them many children and women.

As artists, the most powerful weapon we have is our ability to play, dream and imagine. The oppressive forces fear this weapon because as long as we are able to imagine another kind of reality, we have the power to pursue it – a free and just Palestine.

Israel is portraying the ongoing massacre in Gaza as a war between them and Hamas, as part of an obnoxious media campaign of turning the oppressed into the villains. This latest Israeli attack against Gaza is a crime that must be understood within the context of Israeli occupation and apartheid. For over six decades Palestinians have been systematically bereaved of their lands, their water and their freedom of movement. Settlements continue to be built, a wall is erected on occupied lands and Gaza has been under a suffocating blockade for over six years. These crimes must be condemned and acted upon immediately.

Among our companions are institutions that despite all the hardships continue to work in Gaza, using music, theatre and drama to comprehend, process, educate and mobilize. We stand with them and we ask you to do the same.

While governments are once again turning their backs, people around the world are raising their voices; taking to the streets and refusing to let the people of Gaza suffer in silence. We urge our colleagues, friends and partners not to stay silent and join us in our protest.

We call upon the world to put pressure on Israel to stop the blockade of Gaza.

We particularly call upon our fellow artists and cultural organizations to condemn the current aggressions against Gaza and the occupation of Palestine through petitions, protests and statements. Further to that, we urge you to act by supporting the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel (PACBI), thereby refusing to be complicit in the ongoing occupation and apartheid.

Together, we can turn hopelessness into determination and the forces of division into unity. It is within our power.
..

The undersigned, as founding members of the Palestinian Performing Art Programme (PPAN)

Al-Harah Theatre: http://www.alharah.org

The Magnificat Association: http://www.magnificat.custodia.org

The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music: http://ncm.birzeit.edu/en

Al Kamandjati Association: http://www.alkamandjati.com

Theatre Day Productions: http://www.theatreday.org

Yes Theatre: http://www.yestheatre.org

The Palestine Circus School: http://www.palcircus.ps

The Freedom Theatre: http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org

Popular Art Center: http://www.popularartcentre.org/

El Funoun Dance Troupe: http://www.el-funoun.org

Ashtar Theatre: http://www.ashtar-theatre.org

Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense

 

During London protests against Israel's renewed attacks on Gaza, anti-Zioniost rabbis stand on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

During London protests against Israel’s renewed attacks on Gaza, an anti-Zionist rabbi stands on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

The latest evidence of Israeli criminality has added urgency to the BDS campaign. Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods initiated a letter published in the Guardian on Saturday July 12, alongside another pressing the case for BDS, under the headline Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense.

The J-BIG letter, signed by Jewish figures including actor Miriam Margolyes and  writer and comedian Alexei Sayle, was also supported by author Ahdaf Soueif.

It said Israel was marking the 10th anniversary of the international court of justice  ruling that Israel’s apartheid wall is illegal and must be removed, by renewing its attacks on Gaza, again punishing the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land.

Protests have been widespread and growing. See Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ (JfJfP) website for a useful compendium of reports and comment.

 

FULL TEXT OF PRO-BDS LETTERS IN THE GUARDIAN

It is now 10 years since the international court of justice  ruled that the wall built by Israel in the occupied West Bank contravenes international law and must be removed.

Israel is marking this anniversary with renewed attacks on Gaza which continue to punish the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land (Israel turns screw on Hamas as 300 targets are hit in a single night, 11 July).

The apartheid wall is still there, making any kind of normal life for Palestinians an impossibility, as well as stealing their land. It is 47 years since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus extending the process (begun in 1948) of ethnically cleansing the indigenous population and then installing settlers.

All this is illegal under international law, which has been flouted by Israel, aided by the complicity of western governments. The media too, especially the BBC, must bear some responsibility with its grotesquely biased reporting which, as Owen Jones notes (9 July), portrays Israel as an innocent victim, exempt from any norms of behaviour.

Our government will not hold Israel accountable, so we have a responsibility to do so, especially through the civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  (BDS).

Miriam Margolyes, Mike Marqusee, Alexei Sayle, Ahdaf Soueif, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, Prof Moshe Machover, Prof Nira Yuval-Davies, Seymour Alexander, Rica Bird, Elizabeth Carola, Mike Cushman, Judit Druks, Nancy Elan, Mark Elf, Deborah Fink, Sylvia Finzi, Kenneth Fryde, Claire Glasman, Tony Greenstein, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Michael Kalmanovitz, Adah Kay, Leah Levane, Les Levidow, Mica Nava, Diane Neslen, Susan Pashkoff, Roland Rance, Leon Rosselson, Maureen Rothstein, Michael Sackin, Ian Saville, Miriam Scharf, Sam Weinstein, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Devra Wiseman, Ben Young
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

 

• Debate about strategy is vital for good politics. We welcome Noam Chomsky‘s admonitions as a stimulus to the debate and education which the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement has enabled globally. Aside from the errors of fact in Chomsky’s Nation article reported on by Ian Black (Israeli sanctions campaign: Chomsky’s boycott warning, 2 July), the timing of his intervention is unfortunate since the BDS movement has now reached even American campuses, occasioned Israeli cabinet deliberations as to how to counter it, and caused reputational damage to corporations working with Israeli firms in occupied Palestine.

Chomsky also ignores that BDS is fully backed by Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Israelis. In this difficult period for progressive politics and international solidarity, the BDS movement builds across the globe. In its stead Chomsky proposes nothing.
Hilary Rose Professor emeritus of social policy, BradfordMartha Mundy Professor emeritus in anthropology, LSESteven Rose Professor emeritus of neuroscience, Open University, Sami Ramadani London Metropolitan University