‘Anti Israel’ cinema that cancelled Eurovision party should lose charity status, says MP | Politics | News

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A cinema which cancelled its Eurovision Song Contest party because Israel is one of the contestants should lose its charity status, England’s former senior law officer has claimed.

Former Attorney General Sir Michael Ellis has written to the Charity Commission demanding that the Rio Centre in East London loses its charitable status over “prejudice” against Jewish people.

Ironically, the cinema was founded in 1909 by a Jewish woman called Clara Ludski, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Prussia.

But centre in Dalston declared that it would not hold the Eurovision event in protest over the war in Gaza.

In his letter Sir Michael, the Conservative MP for Northampton North, said: “This charity is boycotting a popular international music competition because the only Jewish nation is competing.

“Regardless of the views of any person, group, corporation or charity trustees on Israel-Gaza, it is incontrovertible that Israeli performers, singers and dancers have nothing to do with the conflict.”

He claimed that the boycott was hypocritical when considering the record of other participants.

He said: “This boycott is an expression of prejudice which as far as I am aware has not been applied to other countries during times of conflict. For example, Turkey, when they took part in Eurovision in the past, despite their conflict with the Kurds.

“It is worth noting that Turkey is reported to be taking part in this year’s interval performance at Eurovision. Belarus [an ally of Putin’s Russia] is another country which took part in Eurovision until 2019 and I am not aware of similar actions from this cinema then.”

He pointed out that the Charity Commission Guide stipulates that charities can only get involved in campaign or political activity as long as it supports their purpose and is in their best interests and are doing so within the law.

And he noted that the Rio Centre says in its objectives that it exists “ to promote, maintain, improve and advance education of the public in Hackney and East London…by…encouragement of the arts…for the residents of the area aforesaid without distinction of sex or political, religious or other opinions and with the object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants.”

Sir Michael added: “In my opinion, the behaviour of this charity is an intolerable affront to the Jewish community and to the longstanding principles of prudence required of charities by law.”

The Rio Centre (Dalston) has not replied to a request from the Daily Express for a comment.

But in its initial announcement it said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have collectively decided not to screen the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest this year.

“We firmly believe that the Eurovision Song Contest has the power to bring people together across the world, and when its core values of inclusivity, equality and universality are upheld, it can be a genuine force for good.”

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