LONDON – A fun filled pro-Israel festival in London had a brief brush with conflict on Saturday as several dozen Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists verbally clashed with a few very vocal defenders of the Jewish state.
“You want to talk in Gaza? These women can’t talk in Gaza! It’s a joke... This is bullshit! It doesn’t matter how many bombs are dropped in Syria or in London, this is just an excuse to hate Jews,” Golan Koresh, who is both Israeli and Brazilian, retorted to female activists chanting “Free Palestine!” “This is just a disgrace,” Koresh said in disgust. “These Jews whose parents stood in the gas chambers are now standing side-by-side with people who want to blow us up.
“London is poison. The atmosphere when it comes to Israeli is toxic,” he added.
The protesters gathered to speak out against the TLV in LDN Festival, a five-day event showcasing Israeli culture co-sponsored by the Strategic Affairs Ministry and British philanthropist Marc Worth.
“Thousands of Londoners were exposed to vibrant Israeli culture this weekend and saw the diversity and richness that the country has to offer,” Gilad Erdan, head of the ministry, told The Jerusalem Post.
“The festival is of great importance in its very existence in Britain as we mark one century of the Balfour Declaration. This festival is a cultural answer to the calls for a boycott against Israel.”
BDS organizations such as Artists of Palestine were dismayed when petitions and posters around the city calling on authorities to shut down the festival were disregarded.
“TLV in LDN is supposedly a celebration of culture, but its director Marc Worth has revealed in an interview that the festival is the dream child of Israel’s diplomatic mission in the UK, and was conceived in response to the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions,” the organization wrote on its website Wednesday.
Saturday’s ruckus took place outside of the Roundhouse Theater where most of the festival’s events are scheduled.
“Perhaps if this event wasn’t sponsored by the Israeli government, we wouldn’t be so against it,” Michael Kalmanovitz of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network said.
Pro-Israel activists were quick to lob retorts at those claims. “They’re not standing outside the Chinese or Syrian or Russian Embassy. They’re here in front of a peaceful festival with music,” Shadman Zaman, the first person from Bangladesh to visit Israel, told the Post. “They’re trying to disrupt a peaceful and lovely program into a riot. This is what they always do.”
Despite the brief confrontation, the festival continued as planned. In fact, Israeli chef Shaul Ben Aderet approached the activists with a peace offering – chocolate mousse – which some took happily.