An evening fundraising event for Israel’s Technion was cancelled on Sunday after staff at the Apollo Theatre in London refused to facilitate it.
Alan Aziz, chief executive of Technion UK, said staff could choose whether or not to work at events on a Sunday, when the theatre is normally closed. Technion had put together the event — a conversation between writer and broadcaster Douglas Murray and actress Louisa Clein — just three weeks ago.
He told Jewish News: “The Apollo told us that they had struggled to put together enough staff to work at the evening, but that eventually they did have a working crew.”
However, an unidentified person at the theatre chose, said Aziz, to distribute the email addresses of all those Apollo employees, to someone outside the theatre who was opposed to Israel. “All of them received threatening emails and told the management that they no longer wanted to work.”
The theatre, by its own and union regulations, is obliged to use approved personnel who have been trained in evacuation and fire security proceedings. In meetings between the Apollo and Technion in a last-ditch attempt to save the event, the Technion team were told that failure to use approved staff could invalidate the theatre’s insurance.
Nimax Theatres told Jewish News: “The event on Sunday 4 February was cancelled on the advice of Nimax’s security company which advised that the risk was too high to proceed. The safety of the staff, attendees and building is always paramount.”
Aziz said: “The Apollo were very understanding and apologised. They did everything possible to try to make it work.” At around 2pm on the afternoon of the event it became clear that the event could no longer take place, resulting in a frantic phone-round by Technion colleagues to try to secure another venue.
More than 800 tickets had been sold for the Apollo so it was vital for the Technion to locate another place large enough to accommodate such an audience. Eventually another venue agreed and almost 1,000 people turned up to hear Murray and Clein in conversation.
Murray himself tweeted after the event: “Wonderful event to a capacity audience in London. Shame on the Apollo Theatre for bowing to the mob. But London’s Jews will not be intimidated and neither will I.”
Paul Charney, the Technion chair, gave a fierce opening address in which he said how important it was for the community that the event should go ahead no matter where the location, and he paid tribute both to the synagogue and CST for their help and safeguarding.
The following night, Murray addressed another capacity audience for the charity Emunah. In conversation with the journalist Sandy Rashty, he reflected on the domestic political scene ahead of a General Election this year and didn’t rule out entering politics himself in the future.
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