August 20, 2014

Tricycle Diaries: a Win Win for BDS?

The Tricycle Theatre's rejection of Israeli embassy funding for the UK Jewish Film Festival which then withdrew the whole festival from the theatre was never that clear cut.

Originally the theatre said it wouldn't accept Israeli embassy funding because of the war on Gaza.  The theatre offered to replace the funding but UKJFF paradoxically claimed that the theatre was punishing Jews for the state of Israel's action at the same time as saying that "the state of Israel is intrinsic to Jewish culture."  The theatre also claimed that it wasn't objecting to the festival or to Israeli embassy funding per se and that it would be happy to host the festival in future years as in previous years regardless of where the funding was coming from.  The festival withdrew altogether and that could have been that.

Next up came a series of increasingly shrill false allegations of antisemitism together with false accounts of what had actually taken place between the theatre and the festival.

I noticed a barrister on twitter suggesting that legal action might be in order.  This worried me because it was one of two barristers who berated the complainants in the FUCU case for being so silly as to equate anti-Zionism with racism.  So he had opposed Fraser (et al) in FUCU but seemed to be advocating a FUCU II in the case of the UKJFF.

Next I saw Jewish News trumpet the news that the Tricycle Theatre had performed a U-turn.  The barrister actually tweeted two of the false accusers of antisemitism to commend them for what he saw as their help.  That wasn't just worrying, it was disappointing.  I'm rushing for work at the mo so I'll dig up relevant tags, links, tweets, etc when I get home tonight/tomorrow.

I did find the triumphalist crowing by Zionists to be a bit overblown because according to the theatre and the festival the situation hasn't actually changed.  The festival won't be at the theatre this year but is intended to be next year even with Israeli embassy funding.  The only thing that has changed is that the theatre is saying that it would host the festival this year with the Israeli embassy funding.  Certainly the Tricycle people have been a little humiliated over this but I can't really see what the big turnaround is except in their attitude which is kind of apologetic without actually apologising.

So where are we now?  Well now the Ham and High have published an article on Zionist ranter, Maureen Lipman saying that the festival can never again be at the Tricycle.

The 68-year-old, a star of stage and screen, believes the theatre’s U-turn last week - when it announced it had “withdrawn its objection” to the UK Jewish Film Festival’s sponsorship from the Israeli embassy - will not ease the furore it created anytime soon.

She told the Ham&High: “There is a very large and cogent anti-Israel feeling around that part of the world and they will have made it impossible for the festival to go ahead.

“I don’t think the Kilburn police could have policed it. I don’t think they’ll host it next year. I’m very distressed and haunted by this, I’m worried and baffled.

“It was a stupid and untimely gesture and I’m glad they’ve had the good sense to realise it was badly timed in the face of rising anti-Semitism and I’m very relieved that they can see they are in an impossible position.”

Well I was never that excited by the Tricycle rejection of Israeli embassy funding in the first place since it was by no means full support for BDS.  Equally I wasn't so disappointed by the U-Turn that didn't look much like a U-Turn to me at all.  I say this because I could well be missing something given the excitement/disappointment on both sides over what I saw as two non-events.

By the way, there is also a Facebook page by zionists calling for an on-going boycott of Tricycle.

So all in all it looks to me that BDS is now in a win win situation.  If Maureen Lipman and these Facebook Zionists have their way then the Israeli embassy funded UK "Jewish" Film Festival will no longer be at Tricycle Theatre.  And of course whatever happens, the Tricycle Theatre's statement of retraction looks like the outcome not of discussions but of Zionist bullying.  So whatever happens, it looks like a win win for BDS but then I didn't know what all the fuss was about in the first place.

I added in links etc.  I've a feeling I'll be revisiting this issue in future.


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