The Zionist Federation of the UK (ZF) was supposed to host its Annual Israel Independence Day Celebration at the Bloomsbury Theater in Central London next week (April 28th). When the theater began to receive complaints from anti-Israel groups they pressured the ZF to remove an IDF entertainment group that was supposed to perform. But the groups weren’t placated so the theater caved into the anti-Israel pressure and canceled the event.
A letter sent to the theater by a fringe group calling itself the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network said: “How will you monitor that IDF performers will not appear under another guise? On a matter so serious as entertaining the presence of those accused of genocide by the UN and others respected for human rights monitoring, surely you don’t intend to be satisfied that the IDF’s removal from the ZF’s publicity is enough.”
In an e-mail sent on Thursday to the protesters, the theater’s director, Peter Cadley, said: “Further to my recent e-mail regarding proposed performances at the theater by an entertainment troupe associated with the Israel Defense Force, it has now been decided that, despite assurances that the troupe had been withdrawn from the line-ups, the events in question will now be canceled. Thanks again for your e-mail; I hope to welcome you to an event at the Bloomsbury Theater in the future.”Source:Jpost’
There was an immediate negative reaction to the cancelation.The theatre and University College London (which owns the theatre) have been flooded with emails from angry protestors. One read: “What has happened to freedom of artistic expression? Does UCL endorse this action which is taken at the instigation of a minority of objectors? I have taken exception to several productions at the Bloomsbury, including the event organised by “Deir Yassin Remembered” but would not seek to impose my views on the theatre management. Why have they caved in so immorally in this instance?”
Jonathan Hoffman, co-Vice Chair of the Zionist Federation, commented to me about the cancellation:
“This reeks of hypocrisy. Time and again we see the UK-based Israel bashing brigade trying to persuade artistic venues to stamp on freedom of expression in the UK and in this instance a venue has caved in. In August 2008 the Israel bashers tried to disrupt a performance in Edinburgh by the Jerusalem Quartet and they have now been prosecuted for it. Contrast this with the attitude of Israel’s supporters. In February the Royal Court theatre in London put on a play ‘Seven Jewish Children’ which demonised Israeli parents and contained elements of antisemitism. There was no disruption whatever. The same in 2006 when the Bloomsbury – the theatre which has cancelled the YH61 event – played host to an event organised by ‘Deir Yassin Remembered’, an organisation with leadership and advisers who have been accused of Holocaust Denial. No-one disrupted that. The Israel demonisers also tried (unsuccessfully) to get the Israel Science Days (on 5 March) cancelled – thus attempting to deprive sixth formers of scientific education. To their credit – and in stark contrast to this capitulation to the enemies of free speech and enlightenment – the Science Museums stood up for what is right.”
Today in Iraq and Afghanistan, proud British Soldiers are fighting to protect the rights of people throughout their home country (and the entire Western World). It is tragic that when they get home they will find many in their country who found it so easy to give away the freedom of expression of others. The folks who run the Bloomsbury Theater in Central London should be ashamed of themselves.
The good news is that despite the attempt at censorship, the ZF assures us that the show will go on:
“We are delighted that the shows are going ahead and, because of the recent publicity, we have been inundated with calls of support and ticket requests. The audience from the Jewish and general communities will be coming together to celebrate Israel’s 61st birthday and see the rich cultural diversity that is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” ZF Chairman Andrew Balcombe said.