On Saturday evening 2 November, protesters gathered outside a popular northwest London theatre to protest at its hosting of events in an Israeli-sponsored Jewish film festival.
The lively and colourful protest was called by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), in response to the Israeli Embassy’s sponsorship of this year’s festival at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.
Photo and report from IJAN
People from different faiths and none, including an Israeli activist, Palestinian solidarity activists, and campaigners from the Kentish Town-based Global Women’s Strike, came together to remind the Tricycle that at the very same time that they hosted the festival last year, Israel was bombing Gaza, killing 158 Palestinians; including 30 children.
Protesters, who have valued the Tricycle for decades through its vitally informative and entertaining plays about Afghanistan, Ireland’s Bloody Sunday, US Guantanamo, the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, and more, are appalled at the Tricycle hosting a film festival sponsored by a government that whose major industry is repression, not only of Palestinians but around the world.
With placards and a loudspeaker they highlighted that Israel had broken the international boycott of apartheid South Africa – supplying it with military hardware and training, and helping build its nuclear industry; had armed the Argentinean junta even as it killed thousands, including many Jews; had helped arm and train the Rwandan military and Hutu militia which committed genocide against the Tutsis; and helped arm the Sri Lankan government with warfare technology, including drones, enabling it to massacre tens of thousands of Tamils.*
Protestors were shocked that the Tricycle was not only using security guards who refused to identify themselves, but also that a vanload of police had been called on an entirely peaceful protest. The protestors, who are mainly local residents and the Tricycle’s most loyal audience, have written to the new artistic director of the Tricycle, Indhu Rubasingham, to say: “Given that Israeli apartheid is not loved, especially in multi-racial Kilburn . . . Is this who the Tricycle wants to be associated with?”.
They also ask that the Tricycle to do what it says it does: bringing unheard voices into the mainstream. That is, to take a stand for justice and peace and against repression. They see the Tricycle’s association with Israel as a betrayal of this standard and are set to do another protest on the evening of 13 Nov – when a film sponsored by the Zionist Federation about Herzl (the founder of modern Zionism) will be shown.
* Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression http://israelglobalrepression.wordpress.com
Letter to the Artistic Director of the Tricycle, 6 November 2013
Dear Indhu Rubasingham,
We say “No” to the Israeli sponsored film festival
We want to let you know why we are protesting outside the Tricycle during the Jewish Film Festival 2014 of which the Israeli Embassy is a sponsor.
First, may we remind you that last year as the Jewish Film Festival was showing in your cinema, the Israeli state was bombing Gaza. 158 Palestinians were killed; 30 were children. That attack began when Israel murdered Ahmed Jabari, who only hours before had received a draft of, and was expected to respond positively to, a permanent truce agreement between Hamas and Israel.
You say on your website that the Tricycle “views the world through varied lenses, bringing unheard voices into the mainstream . . . [It] is a local venue with an international vision.” What you are enabling by welcoming the Israeli Embassy sponsorship does not fit these criteria. Welcoming Israel by definition censors the voices of Palestinians, those whose country the Israelis occupy, whom they imprison, torture and bomb at will.
The Tricycle has informed us about Afghanistan, Ireland’s Bloody Sunday, US’s Guantanamo, England’s Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, and more. It would not have hosted a film festival sponsored by the South African apartheid state especially at the time of the Sharpeville massacre, or the Argentinean junta while it disappeared and tortured tens of thousands, or the Rwandan state when it was committing genocide, or the Sri Lankan state as it was killing tens of thousands of Tamils.
Yet the Tricycle welcomes as a sponsor a state that broke the international boycott of apartheid South Africa – supplying machine guns, missiles, tanks and training, and helped build its nuclear industry; that armed the Argentinean junta even as it killed thousands, including many Jews; that helped arm and train the Rwandan military and Hutu militia which committed genocide against the Tutsis; and armed the Sri Lankan government with patrol boats, aircraft, drones, other warfare technology and training in order to massacre tens of thousands of the Tamil population – war crimes that are currently in the news.
How can the Tricycle ignore that Palestinians are forced into bantustans, complete with pass laws, segregation and other apartheid violence? Or the ongoing siege of Gaza, undermining the long-term health of its inhabitants, particularly ensuring malnutrition among children and alarming levels of anaemia among babies and pregnant women?
Has the Tricycle forgotten the 2008-9 bombing of Gaza designed to terrorize and humiliate the civilian population, with the systematically reckless use of white phosphorus, forcing civilians to be human shields, the wanton destruction of infrastructure: food production, medical facilities, water, power and sewerage facilities, schools and kindergartens? 1,417 Palestinians were killed, including 313 children, and over 5,000 were wounded.
We protest that our Tricycle is associating itself with a government which regularly kills, maims, persecutes, imprisons even little children and humiliates Palestinians of every age; whose major industry is assisting and even spearheading repression round the world.* Your association with Israel misleads, distracts from and normalises its murderous past and present.
Although the security guards outside the Tricycle refused to identify themselves, they appeared to be from the Community Security Trust (CST). The CST says it provides security for Jewish events – in fact our experience is that it is only for Zionist events.
And why was a vanload of police, in addition to the CST, called to our peaceful protest? Given that Israeli apartheid is not loved, especially in multi-racial Kilburn, they know they are not welcome but are accustomed to shutting down opposition and getting their way. Is this who the Tricycle wants to be associated with?
Most of us protesting are your neighbours, local residents, and all of us have valued the Tricycle for all the decades of its existence. The Tricycle’s association with Israel is a betrayal of the standards it claims to uphold: for justice and against state violence. We, your loyal supporters, your audience, ask that you respond wholeheartedly to the Palestinian call for boycott – beginning with the Tricycle refusing to host an Israeli sponsored film festival.
for IJAN UK