Was the Tricycle theatre right to ask the UK Jewish film festival to 'reconsider' its funding?
时间：2019-07-22 责任编辑：司寇雠 来源：合乐888首页 点击：169 次
Last week London's Tricycle theatre, which had been due to host the UK Jewish film festival in November, said it had asked the festival's organisers to "reconsider" its sponsorship by the Israeli embassy. "Given the situation in Israel and Gaza, we do not believe that the festival should accept funding from any party to the current conflict," its artistic director, , said, adding that it had "offered to replace that [embassy] funding with money from our own resources". Festival organisers found the request "unacceptable", and .
Sunny Hundal, journalist and academic
A friend recently posted a "guide to tough decisions", which started with: "Don't take money, directly or indirectly, from governments that systematically abuse human rights." There is a very strong case is doing just that: by keeping Palestinians under a goods and people blockade (denying an entire community not just jobs and movement but even clean water), by continually building illegal settlements on their land despite international agreements, and by ignoring the peace process. Last week both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused [Israel] of war crimes, and it wasn't the first time.
Within this context it is right for Tricycle theatre to deem money from the Israeli embassy to be controversial, and that accepting it would indicate to others it's taking sides in the ongoing conflict. It's worth emphasising that Tricycle went out of its way to accommodate the UKJFF, offering to match the Israeli embassy's money or look at alternatives. Accusations that it is "banning Jews", as some prominent commentators have made, seem to me widely off the mark. I accept that antisemitic incidents are on the rise across Europe, and would like to see more dialogue between communities, but that cannot mean whitewashing Israel's past actions.
Nick Cohen, Observer columnist
Here's the problem with what the Tricycle has done, and why despite what you say there is a whiff of racism about it. The only event it asks to pass a political test is the Jewish film festival – which you should know happily shows films condemning the Israeli occupation and bigotries of orthodox Jews. The festival organisers were astonished. They asked if the Tricycle had demanded that anyone else renounce funders and tailor their beliefs to suit the politics of cultural bureaucrats. Of course it had not. The Tricycle hosted Asian film festival, which received funding from an Indian government guilty of systematically abusing human rights in Kashmir. The Tricycle itself takes money from the British government, which fought a war in Iraq [that] one of the Tricycle's own board members and writers condemned as "illegal", and which led to appalling civilian casualties.
Now if anyone were to demand that the Tricycle refuse the £720,000 it receives from the Arts Council – far more than the measly £1,400 the Israeli embassy gives the Jewish film festival by the way – it would reply that governments all round the world subsidise culture. It does not mean that they control it. If the Tricycle can say that for Asians, if it can say that for itself, why can't it say it for Jews?
SH I don't think Kashmir and Iraq are comparable, Nick. I'm not absolving India or the British government of past abuses, but the key point that Tricycle focused on was "ongoing conflict". Hence, it explicitly said the situation with UKJFF could change in coming months. There is no ongoing conflict in Kashmir, and Indian-Pakistani relations are better now than they have been for decades. Over Iraq, Britons could take democratic action against their government with agitation, demonstrations and voting against Labour. But Britons have very limited options to influence the Israeli government, and boycotting their money is one of their very few tools.
You've advocated and raised concerns about Russia Today in the past, partly because they are state-funded and toe that line. What if people accused you of singling out Persians or Russians? I'm sure you would agree with me in applauding any group that rejected Syrian, Hamas or Russian state money too.
NC I have not advocated banning Press TV. I said that the regulators should ensure it met impartiality standards or withdraw its licence if they could not. If you want to tear up the fairness rules and allow British versions of Fox TV, I cannot support your Murdochian programme. Nor would I support banning Russian ballets because of Putin. As for your "ongoing conflict", you must know that Britain is a party to it because it sells Israel arms, which makes me wonder again how the Tricycle can take Arts Council funds.
But my main point of contention is that you and the Tricycle are threatening JM Keynes's noble idea, that the Arts Council should ensure that culture is a free space beyond political control. You have not said whether you have been to the film festival. If you had, you would not have regretted it. Now because of the Tricycle's double standards you may not be able to see 28 films. I wish you could deplore that loss and condemn it too.
SH I have no Murdochian agenda, I assure you. I'd also like Press TV and RT to follow Ofcom rules, but you've specifically pointed to their state funding as an issue. You've also criticised Saudi government funding of British groups in the past – which would lead a normal person to conclude you think taking money from controversial governments that abuse human rights (a point re Israel you didn't dispute) is very unwise. The same rules should apply to the UKJFF.
I am sad we cannot see the Jewish film festival now, but I'm also sad they cannot see why taking money from the Israeli government, especially in the current climate, would hurt people and set back community relations. The real problem is the implication that criticising or refusing Israeli government money is antisemitic, or that cultural organisations shouldn't be allowed to take moral stances on human rights. If they can't, who can?
NC Sunny, you clearly have never been to the festival, so are arguing at something of a disadvantage. If it were Israeli government propaganda, I would oppose it, but it isn't. Let me warn you of the dangerous ground you are wobbling towards. You are endorsing political interference in culture – and the Tories who want to muzzle the BBC will be grateful for you for that. You are turning your back on the 2010 Equality Act – one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government – which tells public bodies to treat everyone, including Jews, equally. And as you brought up "community relations" let me spell out a final point. From George Galloway declaring Bradford an "Israel-free zone" to Islamists in the East End of London raising jihadist flags, a dangerous antisemitic mood is growing. By defending worthless bureaucrats who intimidate a Jewish – not an Israeli but a Jewish – festival because it won't accept their double standards, you are adding to it – thoughtlessly, I am sure.