UK funds Jenin-based theater group founded by terrorist

The Jenin-based Freedom Theatre was co-founded by a senior Fatah terrorist to back the armed fight against Israel with “cultural resistance.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The British government is funding two cultural groups that promote the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement  despite the Conservative Party’s stated legislative agenda of preventing such support, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The Jenin-based Freedom Theatre and London-based women’s Hawiyya Dabke dance troupe received nearly £75,ooo and over £16,000 respectively from the British Council this year for their activities. The theater also received tens of thousands of pounds from the Council in 2015 and 2021.

Both groups have openly called for supporting the BDS movement in tweets and promotions for their vehemently anti-Israel productions, said the report, based on research done by anti-racism Twitter account GnasherJew.

In the Queen’s Speech earlier this month, one of the items touted in the government’s proposed agenda for the year was to promote a “BDS and Sanctions Bill,” which would ban public bodies from conducting their own boycott campaigns against foreign countries or officials when they are “inconsistent with official UK policy.”

The British Council is sponsored by the Foreign Office. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has personally touted the strong relations between her government and Israel, saying that the UK has “no closer friend and ally” than the Jewish state. Several senior ministers, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have come out strongly against BDS over recent months and years.

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The Freedom Theatre was co-founded by Zakaria Zubeidi, a senior Palestinian terrorist jailed for life in Israel for planning and carrying out numerous security offenses, including the murder of two Israelis.  The theater’s website features his story prominently and quotes him as saying, “You can’t separate armed resistance from cultural resistance.”

It added that Zubeidi believes that the role of the latter “is to translate the armed, religious and political modes of resistance.”

Hawiyya was established in 2017 by Shahd Abusalama, a Palestinian associate lecturer at Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University who described as “heroes” six Palestinian terrorists – including Zubeidi – who temporarily escaped a high-security prison in Israel last year.

The dance collective says it “explores identity, culture and resistance through dance.” Earlier this year, it performed at an anti-apartheid protest in front of the Israeli embassy in London sponsored by Amnesty International.

On its website, the British Council says the purpose of its support for the arts is to “build creative … global communities that inspire innovation, knowledge, prosperity and peace. The connections we build through arts and culture transform lives and create positive change.”

A British Council spokeswoman told the paper that the funding decisions had gone through “vetting…and comply with UK Government policy.”