Jewish cinema-goers shouted at by protesters of Israeli film festival

Posted On 14 May 2019 at 12:22 pm

About a dozen protesters waved banners and used a megaphone in a bid to stop people going to see a film screened as part of an Israeli film festival at Komedia on Sunday.

The protest, organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) against the screening of Tel Aviv on Fire by Palestinian director Sameh Zoabi, was sparked by the fact the Seret festival is sponsored by the Israeli government, which they say is “art-washing” its actions.

Holding the megaphone was Tony Greenstein, who was expelled from Labour for harassing fellow members, using language outlawed by the party as part of its review into anti-Semitism.

Mr Greenstein is currently embroiled in a legal fight with the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism after losing the first stage of a libel claim for defamation after they repeatedly described him as a “notorious anti-Semite”.

He has been refused leave to appeal the ruling that the statement is an opinion, and is now crowdfunding to continue the court action.

Labour’s candidate for Preston Park Denise Friend, who lost to the Greens in this month’s elections, was handing out leaflets.

Fiona Sharpe, speaking on behalf of the Sussex Jewish Representative Council, said: “Once again on the streets of Brighton we have experienced hate and bigotry.

“Everyone is entitled to their own views but to scream and shout at a mainly elderly Jewish community, holding them responsible for the actions of another sovereign nation, is purely intimidation and harassment.

“Why these people feel it is okay to abuse people going to see a film, which was written and directed by a Palestinian with a mainly Palestinian cast, is beyond me.

“It was particularly disturbing to see that one of the loudest, most aggressive protesters had only two weeks ago been standing as a Labour candidate for our council.

“We thank the police for once again protecting our community but are very concerned that this is necessary. We are unaware of any other minority community in Brighton that needs police protection when going to see a film.”

Last year, a screening of another Seret festival film at Dukes @ Komedia was interrupted by protesters who were ejected from the cinema and further Seret screenings cancelled.

This was the only public Seret screening in Brighton this year, with another one shown at a private address in Hove on May 8.

The PSC said the festival is a “cynical exercise in using cinema to try to rehabilitate Israel’s reputation in the UK”.

It said: “Palestinian civil society have called on us to protest, due to the festival’s heavy sponsorship by the Israeli government and its clear purpose as an attempt at normalisation.

“The film being screened at Duke’s @ Komedia may be a fantastic film. That’s not the point.

“The point is that the Seret Festival is being financed, and used, by the Israeli government to ‘art-wash’ Israel’s appalling human rights record, and its long history of flagrant violations of UN resolutions and international law.”

A police spokesman said: “Police were made aware of a protest to take place at Dukes at Komedia Picture House in Upper Gardner Street, Brighton, on Sunday evening (May 12).

“Around 10-15 protesters attended shortly before 8pm, but there were no offences and no arrests.”

  1. A L Brighton Reply

    Disgusted to see racism and antisemitism on our streets. Harassing people going to a cinema because they are Jewish?

    How is this tolerated? Where are the police?

    And to hear one of them was a Labour candidate in the recent election! What are Labour going to do about this? Do they accept the behaviour and price the are a racist organisation? Or do they act swiftly and permanently expel this person?

    • Withdean Actually Reply

      Where is there racism and anti-Semitism?

    • Tony Greenstein Reply

      no one was harassed because they are Jewish. Cinema goers, including fundamentalist Christians were picketed because they were going to see an apartheid film. Is that so difficult to understand? We did the same with South Africa 20 years ago. Again it wasn’t because they were white but because they were racists

  2. Withdean Actually Reply

    It seems to me that the protestors are campaigning against the Israeli government, not Jewish people. Being anti-Israel is not being anti-Semite.

  3. mentor Reply

    the libel story is very complicated

  4. Tony Greenstein Reply

    The libel story is not only complicated by Jo Wadsworth, once again has got her facts completely wrong. If she followed the practice of most journalists and actually bothered to contact those she writes about, then I might have filled her in.

    There again, knowing how she distorts everything anyway, I would probably have let her get on with it.

    Either way I have not lost a libel action. It has not yet been heard. What I lost was an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against a decision in a preliminary hearing. The actual libel claim has yet to be heard.

    And of course there was no race hate on display in Brighton. A number of those picketing were, like me, Jewish. It is part of the organised lies and tropes of our opponents that they proclaim actions against Israeli films or produce to be actions against Jews.

    Thus they conflate the State of Israel with all Jews which means they actively associate all Jewish people with the crimes of the Israeli state. Which to me is anti-semitic according to the IHRA. Blaming Jews for what Israel does. But then again Zionists just love to have their cake and eat it.

  5. Nemeth Reply

    Not strictly true that “Jewish cinema-goers” were shouted at. Most “Jewish cinema goers” were let in the back entrance of the cinema by the management. Very few went in the front.

  6. Nemeth Reply

    Fiona Sharpe is no angel, accusing others of what she has done herself.

  7. Binkie Boo Reply

    That awful Denise one knocked on my door during the election. I said I wouldn’t vote Labour because of antisemitism. She started shouting ‘It’s a smear against Jeremy!’ Not surprised she was there. If that’s what Labour is now, I’m voting Green until Corbyn and his antisemites are gone. But not holding my breath.

  8. Mike Smith Reply

    Shocking that this should happen anywhere, especially in a city as tolerant and diverse as Brighton and Hove.

    Very many people want to see a just and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but would go nowhere near this crowd formed of “the usual suspects” that consider it normal to yell at elderly, Jewish cinema goers. – Doubtless they will claim to be simply “anti-Zionist” and not anti-Jewish. That begs the question: how many of them would be sitting quietly at home if there were no Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Or would they be yelling somewhere about “Rothschild bankers”, another common code term used in certain circles.

    Peaceful protest is one thing, intimidation directed towards a race or nationality is quite another, as is disruption of a lawful activity. How much overlap do you think we could find between these protesters and the baying mob that put people off entering an Israeli-owned shop in Western Road?

    Brighton and Hove police really need to look at where the balance lies between the right to peacefully protest and the right of residents to go about their business without facing intimidation.

    A particularly worrying aspect of this is the presence of a former Labour council candidate. One has to ask what vetting procedures the Labour party has in place and whether they would consider this acceptable behaviour by a member who holds a position of responsibility locally and who could have become an elected representative in the city. – If Labour wants to defend itself against accusations of tolerating anti-Semitism, then it will need to take a long hard look at some of those still in its ranks.

  9. Alan Ahkbar Reply

    Corbyn. For the many not the Jew

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