Tricycle Theatre, London
Tricycle Theatre, London. Photo by Max Warren
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London's Tricycle Theatre has been taking it on the chin over its recent refusal to host the UK Jewish Film Festival unless the festival returned a modest donation from the Israeli embassy. Now Britain's Jewish Chronicle is joining in.

Editor Stephen Pollard writes: "For a number of years the JC has carried a small weekly advert from the Tricycle Theatre. … From this week, the JC will be donating all the revenue we receive from the Tricycle to the Friends of Israel Initiative, set up 'to counter the growing efforts to delegitimise the state of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders.' The Tricycle’s board will no doubt be delighted to know that its money will now be going, weekly via the JC, to support that important objective."

The Tricycle, which had hosted the film festival for eight years, told organizers on August 5 that because of Israel's "unhappy escalation" in Gaza, the festival would have to return the Israeli embassy's 1,400-British-pound ($2,338) donation or look for a new home. Festival organizers chose the latter option, turning down the Tricycle's offer to make up for the embassy's contribution.

The theater's action was slammed pretty by leading Jewish communal organizations call the theater's move "shameful," and the left-leaning Guardian, which has been extremely critical of Israel's military attacks on Gaza, editorialized against the Tricycle's behavior.

"[T]he Israeli embassy in London," the Guardian wrote, "is not merely an outpost of the Netanyahu government. It also represents Israel itself, its society and its people. It was this connection with Israel as a country that UK Jewish Film refused to give up.

"Hard though it may be for others to understand, that reflects something crucial about contemporary Jewish identity: that most, not all, Jews feel bound up with Israel, even if that relationship is one of doubt and anxiety. To demand that Jews surrender that connection is to tell Jews how they might – and how they might not – live as Jews. Such demands have an ugly history. They are not the proper business of any public institution, least of all a state-subsidised theatre."