Hot Topic Question – The Tricycle Theatre, London

August 7, 2014

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tricycleOnly a few weeks before its opening, the UK Jewish Film Festival needs to find a new venue. The Tricycle Theatre, the Festival’s North-West London home, suddenly demanded the Festival disassociate itself from one of its minor funders: the Israeli Embassy.

Nick Cohen, talented author of “Who’s Left?”, and who through dint of his name is perhaps the non-Jew who has received the most antisemitic attacks of all journalists in the world, wrote a sharp and disdainful critique of the racism behind the Tricycle’s decision. It is worth reading in full.

Given the steep rise in antisemitic attacks in the UK since the start of the latest Gaza conflict, one might say that the Tricycle affair is the least of the distressing news coming from the UK. Yet its stark clarity acts as a painful symbol of what is at stake: In order to be acceptable in civil society, Jews must dissociate themselves from Israel.

While Cohen correctly points out how outrageous this demand is, we at Makom are nevertheless left with a question.

If, as research points out, the vast majority of UK Jews support Israel, and have vocally done so in the last period, why are we surprised that those who are angry with Israel are also angry with Israel’s avowed supporters?

Is this one of those times where British Jewry needs to put aside their cake while eating it, and see it as a mark of pride that antagonism towards Israel is also antagonism towards British Jews?

Has the time has come to say: “Yes, when push comes to shove, we are proud to stand at Israel’s side. Even if this comes with a price. So be it.”

Or is this a typical Israeli expectation of either-or responses that entirely ignores the delicate dance of both-and that Diaspora Jewry requires?

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