August 27, 2014

Plot Thickens in Tricycle Saga

I only got the chance to give Friday's Jewish Chronicle a good look at today.  In spite of the Tricycle Theatre's boycott (that wasn't a boycott) all being undone some time ago with the Tricycle agreeing to do what it always said it would do anyway Zionists want to make a big issue out of this thing given that BDS victories far outnumber failures to date.  So just as I thought the Tricycle''s non-hosting of the UK Jewish Film Festival was, of itself, no big deal so I thought the "retraction" of the policy was also no big deal.

But Zionists invested a lot into this.  Remember it's the UK, that is UK Jewish Film Festival and yet it receives funding from Israel.  It's not a whole lot of money in the scheme of things, £1,400, but it's enough to taint the whole festival with being more about demonstrating a link between the State of Israel and UK Jews than being simply a Jewish film festival.  The festival's director even said that "Jewish of course intrinsically connected to the state of Israel".  And of course there is the not insignificant matter of Israel being currently embarked on one of its periodic culls of Palestinians as part of a genocidal campaign that makes Israel's existence illegitimate anyway.

So, where we are right now with Tricycle is that basically it has issued a statement that restates its all along position as one which appears to express regret about ever raising the issue of Israeli state funding in the first place.

But apparently there are Zionists who still want heads to roll.  I did mention in an earlier post that there's a facebook page for the diehards but see what the JC reported on Friday under the headline,  'Sack Tricycle directors' call despite deal
The Tricycle Theatre should consider sacking directors who planned the boycott of the Jewish Film Festival, a senior figure close to the affair has argued.
And then look:
The Tricycle had demanded that the UKJFF drop its £1,400 sponsorship from the Israeli embassy before allowing it to use the north London theatre as its main venue. But, following talks between the parties, the theatre dropped the demand and said it would welcome the festival back.
And look again:
The deal came after Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid intervened.
Now Sir Trevor Chinn was reported to have withdrawn his "four figure sum" donation to the Tricycle but The Arts Council stumps up about £760 k.  So I don't think private donors withdrawing their funds could explain the Tricycle's turnaround.

Barrister Adam Wagner reckoned that the Tricycle may have fallen foul of discrimination law. His logic is bewilderingly tortuous in that he tries to make support for the racist war criminals of the State of Israel an aspect of belief (thankfully, not specifically Jewish belief) and therefore, a "protected characteristic".  His subsequent post on the Tricycle's backtracking on its original decision verged on the incoherent but in a tweet he applauded, would you believe, Nick Cohen and Hadley Freeman saying that their false allegations of antisemitism had had an impact:

Now anyone and everyone who criticises the State of Israel over anything at all knows that they are in for some false allegations of antisemitism.  It cannot possibly have been the writing of Nick Cohen and Hadley Freeman, nor of any other of the whatabouters on this case.

But Adam Wagner does allude to an interesting fact in his second post:
The Tricycle’s decision was obviously flawed. Its board were under a lot of pressure from funders and the Jewish community to backtrack. However, that board includes very senior arts and legal figures such as Philippe Sands QC who would have only reversed the decision if they had decided it was wrong in principle. Which it was.
So the original Tricycle decision was made with a QC on the board.  Surely this means we can discount any legal consideration in the Tricycle's turnaround.

So if it wasn't the false allegations of antisemitism and it wasn't any legal consideration what was it?

The whole turnaround happened so fast it seems to me that only a threat to withdraw Arts Council support would have caused it.  And to explain that we again have to look at the JC article that prompted this post.  Yes, we may have to think the unthinkable here and that is that the JC got something right.  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 politcs?  I think not but I think that's precisely what happened.


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