Anti-Israel protesters deface historic London cinema

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Anti-Israel protesters deface historic London cinema

Community raises more than £3000 to clean 'Say no to art washing' daubed in red paint at east Finchley's Phoenix art house ahead of Nova festival film screening

Phoenix cinema, east Finchley
Phoenix cinema, east Finchley

Local communities have raised more than £3k to clean and repair damage caused to an historic cinema in north London after it was defaced with blood-red paint ahead of a documentary screening about the Nova festival massacre.

Supernova: The Music Festival Massacre is part of the 13th Seret Israeli film festival and as reported by Jewish News, is normally held annually in Spain, the Netherlands, India, Germany, Chile and Argentina.

Artists for Palestine UK issued a statement on Tuesday calling on the Phoenix in east Finchley, as well as Jewish community hub JW3 and the Everyman cinemas in Hampstead and Barnet not to host any screenings of the 52-minute documentary.

The bright red graffiti appeared at the Phoenix, open since 1912 and London’s oldest continuously running cinema, overnight on Wednesday ahead of tonight’s showing.

Calling the act of vandalism “truly outrageous”, to date, 157 supporters across the local community have pledged £3,303 to the Phoenix Cinema Trust “to cover the costs of cleaning and repairing any damage caused by this senseless act. The Phoenix Cinema is much loved by all who use it.”

In a poster being promoted across social media, Artists for Palestine UK claim that “Seret is part of a broader artwashing strategy by the Israeli settler-colonial apartheid state that uses culture to whitewash and cover up its crimes against the Palestinian people.”


An online petition to stop the planned protests and protect the Jewish community has garnered nearly 10,000 signatures. Launched on 20th May, it says: “we respectfully demand that the relevant authorities take immediate and decisive action to disallow this planned protest to prevent any escalation.

Screenshot Seret Film Festival

“The Jewish community in this area seeks to continue living in peace, free from the threat of external provocations and disturbances.

“Unfortunately The Metropolitan Police have declared several time in several cases that it is dangerous for our community members to openly display their Jewish identity, speak Hebrew, or practice their beliefs. This statement underscores the urgency of our request. It is untenable for our community members to live in fear, particularly on Shabbat, when attending synagogue or engaging in communal activities may expose them to attacks from protestors coming from other parts of London.


“While we uphold the right to freedom of speech, this right must be balanced with our community’s right to live in safety and peace. We urge the authorities to relocate this protest to a different venue, far from our quiet and peaceful neighborhood, to avoid creating an unnecessary crisis.”

This evenings screening will see both a protest and counter protest from 7pm.


Ben Paul and Hannah Lyons-Singer, organisers of the counter protest told Jewish News: “Do we not have the right to show our own films in our own neighbourhood? We have to stand together against irrational, deluded and twisted hatred. We are shocked and appalled that anyone would choose to demonstrate so viciously against the showing of a documentary about the mass slaughter of innocent kids on Oct 7th.

“We are also embarrassed for them that they’d sink so low as to daub the cinema in hate speak. These hateful bullies will be back tonight to admire their work and incite more hatred against Jews and we shall not let them pass, we are strong Jews, we are a United community, we are deeply proud of Israel and we will not be bullied by these cowards.”

Ben Paul is taking part tonight out of respect to his father, for whom he is sitting shiva.

“That’s how I was brought up. That’s how strongly we feel about this hate crime on our turf. It sickens everyone we know. This area is a citadel for the Jewish community. Tonight’s counter protest will be peaceful, waving flags and showing support. Seeing Palestinian flags is an antagonism against the showing of the carnage and brutality that our people suffered on the morning of October 7th.”

CST issued a statement on Twitter/X, saying: “CST is appalled by the disgraceful graffiti on the Phoenix Cinema today, and we are proud to be working with @MPSBarnet to secure the counter-protest this evening.”

A spokesperson for the Phoenix Cinema said: “We believe that an independent cinema should uphold freedom of expression and want to show difficult content. For the sake of clarity, we would be equally supportive of a difficult Palestinian film, because, as a charity, we do not take sides.”

The statement continued: “While some of our audience may not agree with this screening, we consider others will be very supportive and would have been dismayed if we had refused to host Seret this year”.

However, on Thursday night filmmakers Ken Loach and Mike Leigh (the latter of whom is Jewish), announced their withdrawal as patrons of the Phoenix in protest at the cinema’s hosting of the Seret festival. Loach, 87, told the Guardian: “My resignation as a patron of the Phoenix shows what I think of their decision. It is simply unacceptable.”



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