Pro-Palestinian campaigners are planning to protest outside JW3 community centre over a film it is showing as part of Seret, the Israeli film festival.
Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other far-left activists accused the festival of hosting a fundraiser for the IDF by showing a film called The Other Story.
JW3 was accused by the pro-Palestinians of trying to help recruit young people into the Israeli army to “kill children, medics and people with disabilities”.
Gerry Downing, who was expelled from Labour over alleged antisemitism, and a member of the left-wing extremist Socialist Fight group, said: “We are calling a picket of the JW3 [Jewish community centre] which is hosting a fundraiser to recruit young people in the UK to join the Israeli army – the same barbaric army that deliberately kills children, medics, press and people with disabilities.”
Writing on Facebook about the planned protest, JW3 Chief Executive Raymond Simonson said: “In case you’re wondering what heinous crime we have committed, we are showing an Israeli film, that a partner organisation has now purchased all the tickets to, and has resold them at a mark up to raise money for the Israeli Scouts association.
“You know, the Jewish youth movement with those Israeli teens who go into our Jewish schools and teach our kids Hebrew songs, and run ceremonies for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Rabin across the community.”
He told Jewish News: “We have had a protest outside before, when we hosted [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Barak. It was the same seven or eight people with big banners.
“We have to be prepared of course, on the assumption that something might happen. However, we have liaised with our own security, the CST and the Met to ensure people can feel safe.”
Simonson added: “I respect people’s right to protest, as long as they are not violent abusive or prevent people from entering the venue.
“It’s a shame, however, that of all the venues where this festival is taking place, it is only the Jewish community centre which has been singled out. Make of that what you will.”
A spokesperson for JW3 told the JC: “The Jewish Agency bought all the tickets out for the film and resold them as a fundraiser for the Tzofim, the Israeli Scouts in the UK, not the IDF.”
According to Seret’s directors, this year it highlights films and documentaries which “comment on the plight of ‘the other’ through examining immigration, sexual transition and disability”.
They said: “We have chosen films which examine fatherhood and family trauma with heart and soul; which open the lid on suppressed political intrigues, which share religious and spiritual journeys, and which demonstrate the effects of the wars of yesterday and today.”
Simonson called on people to show their support for the festival. “I’d love for each screening to be completely sold out, showing that boycotts of culture in a Jewish Community Centre have no place,” he said.